The Wimbledon Queue: One of Sport’s Greatest Traditions | ATP Tours

From strawberries and cream to players wearing all-white uniforms, Wimbledon has been an event steeped in tradition since 1877. It’s a day that underpins the British summer, with thousands of fans watching the action at SW19.

Most supporters are fresh-faced after a good night’s sleep. For others, however, their Wimbledon experience begins a mile from the All England Lawn Tennis Club in a park, where they spend the night in a tent.

Since 1922, thousands of fans have camped out and joined the queue at Wimbledon to get a ticket to the grass-court Grand Slam, with 1,500 tickets offered daily on the main courts, while several thousand passes are given away .

Over the years, The Queue has become a phenomenon in its own right, moving from Church Road pavement to parkland in 2008 as its popularity grew. It’s a key aspect of the Wimbledon experience and it’s not hard to see why.

A walk in the park during the fortnight reveals a sense of energy and anticipation in the air. There’s a constant buzz of excitement as fans chat with their ‘neighbours’, reminiscing about past Wimbledon memories, while making bold predictions about the matches and players they hope to see.

For couple Chris and Freya, it was a very special experience this year, with their two-year-old son Raffi making his The Queue debut.

“Wimbledon is why you want to be in the UK this summer because the events are what make the UK and Britain so special,” said Chris, 40, who has been attending The Queue since my adolescence. “We come here from the back of Glastonbury so we have spent six of the last seven nights in a tent. We had never spent a night in a tent with a baby until last week and thought it would be difficult, but Raffi was a little soldier. He loved it and slept better than at home.”

“Three days ago she was dancing with Diana Ross on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury and now she’s cheering on Novak Djokovic on center court!”


Photo credit: Sam Jacot/ATP Tour
As on the Tour, there is a wide range of ages and experiences at The Queue, with two-year-old Raffi just yards from veteran tennis fan Ed, who was the first ‘Queue’ in 1977 .

“We used to line up on the sidewalks and we were just in sleeping bags and no tents were allowed,” Ed recalled. “It was raining on us, but it was okay. It was very informal , when we woke up the morning I was here in 1977, we saw Martina Navratilova across the street and she waved at us! You just wouldn’t see that today. He feels five stars now. We have showers and you can brush your teeth.”

“He is so friendly and really kind. You meet people online the night before and everyone is very positive and there’s a lot of commotion. Came alone this year but would do it again as you don’t feel alone. It’s a great experience.”

Wimbledon
Photo credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images
Upon arrival, fans are given a card which has a number indicating their place in the queue. Then, on the morning of the match, the participants wake them up at around 5 a.m. and guide them slowly and safely through the club, with entry to the pitch starting at 10:30 a.m. Following The Queue’s cancellation in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, its return was welcomed by everyone involved in the operation.

“It’s great because The Queue takes care of itself and a lot of people come year after year and they know how it works. It’s great to see him again,” the chief commissioner told ATPTour.com. “Our job is to get people in, in the right order, and to make the experience enjoyable. People really like queuing , so if we can make them happy and get them in quickly, our job is done.”

After watching the action inside the All England Lawn Tennis Club, weary fans can pack up their tents and head home after 24 hectic hours. However, some fans aren’t ready to go just yet. They return to the park, pitch their tent, and join The Queue again.

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