Monday, July 1, 2013

The Wimbledon Tennis Experience

Actual date of this event: 29 June

It's kinda an unwritten rule that if you live in Wimbledon, you must attend some matches during its two week Major Championship tournament. And since I am a rule follower, I decided to try it out this weekend with my friend Kristin (from Aberdeen), Emily (who also lives in Aberdeen, but for some reason never met her AND she knows my good friend/sorority sister, Tammy, cray cray world), and Chris (who just moved to London from Houston). Like all things, we had some idea of what to expect from some intertrons reading, but it wasn't clear cut. And my jog last Tuesday didn't give me a whole lot of information either.

We arrived around 2:30pm and entered "The Queue" which is for non-ticket holders. If you are a baller, then you just might have tickets. If you are not a baller, there is no way you would get tickets beforehand. We had no tickets, but we wanted tickets, so we had to enter The Queue <cue "dun dun dunnnnn" sound effect>.
Entrance to The Queue
We entered Wimbledon Park off of Wimbledon Park Road (specifically it is where Woodspring Road meets Wimbledon Park Road) and The Queue entrance was on the right labeled with signs. We walked through a long line of railing while on the right of this railing we saw hundreds of people laying down on the ground waiting. Things did not look good! As we entered, The Stewards were shouting that it would be 3-4 hours before we entered the grounds. I kept walking and walking until a person directed me to go to the green flag with a Q on it. This was the end of the line. When I reached the end of the line, I was given a "ticket" which noted my place in The Queue. The other three members of my party had arrived just a few minutes before I did, so I went to wait with them.
I am assuming people were camping out to get in the Queue early on a specific day or Championship day?
Waiting in The Queue
It sucked. The positive to waiting in The Queue is that you can drink. You can eat. And you can visit the toilets for free! And you can enjoy good company, if you brought some with you :-) Luckily, Kristin had read this on the intertrons before so she brought wine and beer. If I had known, I would have mixed a jug of Pimms to sip on. There was an ice cream truck in the park, so lots of folks got a cone. And there is a cafe in the park as well. It was a beautiful day, so we were lucky that we got to sit in the sun. Perfect day for sitting in a park! We sat without moving for about an hour and a half, then we moved about 50 or so yards up, and waited some more. This happened for the next hour and a half, until we finally reached the "ticket" check around 5:30.
An umbrella to block the sun!
Because I arrived a few minutes after my group, I could not enter when they did. I had to wait and enter when my number came up in The Queue, which was 75 people later. It wasn't a big deal though because they just waited for me once they went through. What's a few more people when you have been waiting for 3 hours? Thanks to them for waiting for me!
After that check point, we waited some more, but in a better line that actually moved, but very slowly. We saw signs posted that said things like "You are 300 yards from entering." We walked by the bag check area where if you had "too much stuff" from camping or something, you could turn over your items while you enter the grounds. Eventually, we reached security check. All bags go through screening, and every person goes through metal detectors. After that we were pretty much in!
security check
Entering the Grounds
After we went through security, we walked over a bridge (that goes over Wimbledon Park Road), and did a tiny bit more walking before we arrived at the grounds ticket entrance. By this time it was about 6pm, so we had waited for about 3.5 hours in The Queue. It wa£14 to enter the grounds, cash only (price of entering the grounds depends on the time you enter and the day of the tournament). This ticket allowed you watch any match except for those matches on Centre Court, Court 1, and Court 2 (and maybe Court 3 also) - there are a total of 20 courts at Wimbledon.

This is what you see right when you enter the grounds.
I think this was Court 19.
Resale Tickets
We wanted to watch a "good" match (one on the special courts), so we went to find resale tickets. Resale tickets are ones that ticket holders have turned in after they leave for the day (which is so nice of them, by the way). Any money made from resale tickets goes to charity. Centre Court resale tickets were £10, and Court 1 and Court 2 resale tickets were £5. We would have LOVED to get Centre Court tickets because Serena was playing an hour later, but the line for Centre Court was so long that it would have been impossible. The line was Court 2 was only about 5 people deep, so we went for that. Coincidentally, we got to see a doubles match between a German-Czech pair and a British-American pair! Go Team USA! And Go Britain, too. They ended up losing, but it is still super cool to say we got to see an American play at Wimbledon for £19! Without mentioning the fact that we waited almost 4 hours to do so. 

The German was a beast! And her partner, the Czech, was a firecracker!

Kristin and me
Emily and Chris
We sat at the top so we could see over the wall onto other courts.
On the Grounds
The grounds were packed! Some areas were shoulder to shoulder, and we had to move very slowly. The players walk with everyone, but are escorted so they get special treatment (aka everyone is told to move aside.)

We looked at flats in these apartments. Would have been AWESOME!
There are a variety of food stalls on the grounds and luckily alcohol is not frowned upon! We each got a Pimm's which is a delicious 25% liquor best mixed with lemonade (British term for Sprite) and some fruit thrown in with it. So yummy! Wimbledon has a few traditions, one being the spectators eating Strawberries & Cream. We got a couple bowls full, and the "cream" was basically milk. We had the option of sprinkling sugar on top, but we waited too long to make that decision and a lady shoved me out of the sugars-reach way.

After watching our doubles match, Serena was playing on Centre Court, so we sat "on the hill" to watch her play. This is literally a hill where everyone sits on the grass and watches a big screen showing Centre Court's match-up. It reminded me very much of tailgating and not having tickets into the big game. We could hear the crowd cheering inside as we cheered outside.

Around 9:1pm5, we decided it was best to start making our way out of the grounds since Serena was kicking butt, and the others didn't want to deal with the mad rush at the tube station (I walked home afterward as it was only 1.7 miles).

Helpful Tips
Food/Drinks - Each person entering the grounds is allowed to bring in 1 bottle of wine OR 2 550mL beers. This is nice because if you plan to sit on the hill, you can enjoy your own snacks and beverages. You are also allowed to bring in food. If you plan to wait in The Queue, I highly suggest being prepared with food and drinks.
Toilets - While waiting in The Queue, there are free toilets in the park that you can use. There was also one right inside The Queue "ticket" check area.
Transport - The best tube stop to get off at is Southfields on the District line, which is about a 0.7 mile walk to the Queue. There are also buses that drop off right at the entrance to the Queue, although the bus stops right in front of the entrance to the grounds are temporarily closed. There are also loads of cabs, but lines for cabs are pretty long at the stations and at the grounds.
What to Bring for the Queue - I highly suggest bringing 1.) a towel to sit/lay on, 2.) an umbrella to be used for either rain or blocking the sun, 3.) food/drinks, 4.) sunscreen, 5.) things to do like headphones to listen to the music, a book, cards, etc. 6.) wear proper clothing as you want to be comfortable while sitting for hours (as far as I could see, there was no strict dress code for entering the grounds, but I believe Members have one).
Bag Size - There is a limit to how big your bag can be, so coolers are not allowed. If your bag is too big, you will be required to check it and pick it back up when you leave.
Cash Only - Not once did we see an option for cards. There are a few restaurants on the grounds, and they may take cards, but I cannot be sure. Be prepared to buy everything with cash.

It is really really cool to say that I went to Wimbledon. Never in my life did I think I would get a chance to do that... but never did I think I would get to live in London. If there was another nice day, I would definitely do it again. I would just be prepared next time! It wasn't as bad as it may sound, but everything is better with good company!

Wimbledon players are required to wear all white uniforms, although some of them try to get around that by adding bits of colors to accessories. Federer was told he could not wear his colorful sneakers this year (some claim that is why he lost) as it is a rule for the male players, while the female players are allowed to wear colorful sneakers.


  1. What an awesome experience!! Jill and I are talking about next year and glad you learned the ropes.

  2. love the post! I'm gonna use it for my Travel RoundUp :)

  3. What a cool experience! I'd love to do this one day. But hopefully I'll be a baller and can just buy my tickets with no waiting:) I was sad about Federer. What a shame.
    Thanks for sharing and letting me live it through you! You gave great tips for the logistics of waiting in the queue.


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