Visiting Wimbledon for the first time

Stephen Fry, a Wimbledon lover himself, once said that when you visited New York for the first time it was exactly what you were expecting but this wasn’t a disappointment. He meant that every wonderful thing you had ever seen and imagined about New York – the sky scrapers, the yellow taxis, the mass of humanity – were all there and were only enhanced in real life.

The same, I believe, is true of Wimbledon. I grew up in a country town in Australia watching highlights of The Championships late at night and early in the morning. Unlike any other sports event in the world, with the exception of a Lord’s Test match, I felt I understood Wimbledon. And on my first visit to the All England Club in 2001, I was right.

Having to queue for several hours was completely expected and if the British were to make queuing their national sport then the queue at Wimbledon would be, well, the Wimbledon of queuing. The courts, especially in the first couple of days, looked immaculate, like billiard tables. And all the players wore white; again this is no surprise, but when you see the contrast of white on green you wonder why players would want to wear any other colour anyway.

What do you remember about your first visit to Wimbledon? Any advice for people making their first trip this year? Or perhaps you are one of those people coming here for the first time in 2010?

48 Comments

  1. Pat
    Posted 11 February, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    I visited Wimbledon for the first time last year-i’ve been a tennis fan for years but this tournament was the first one I attended. I absolutley loved it, its so well organised and so much going on. Queuing for centre court tickets overnight might seem crazy but the atmosphere in the park is fantastic, and you get to meet people who attend the event every year (they usually had good tips for which booth had the best seat-tickets as well!). Gutted I can’t go back this year but couldn’t get the time off work:(
    Would recommend it to any true tennis fan.

  2. Big Blue
    Posted 15 February, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I am lucky enough to have watched many sports in many countries. Nothing compares to SW19. It is my Xmas Day. Get there for the gates opening, do your shopping, grab a bite to eat. If you are fortunate to have a ticket for a show court, get to an outside court for the earlier start. Watch a bit of tennis but head to your seat in Centre or Number One in plenty of time. When play is finished on your court for the day, head to another show court or to an outside court. When the last ball has been struck, go to the top of the hill and watch the sun go down. Walk back down through the grounds and off to Southfields. It is simply the best run sports event anywhere.

  3. Posted 19 February, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I first went in 1981 and at that time they let you queue for every match, so we(my sister and I) got in to see 4th, Q,Semi and finals of all the matches, great!! except Borg lost and he was my hero.Nowadays there is no standing room on centre court, it was very squashed and a few people passed out but a great atmosphere!!

    • brucew
      Posted 4 May, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      I am planning to go this year..But I am finding the search for reasonably pricied tickest to be quite frustrating..Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks.
      Bruce
      bwanatick@yahoo.com

  4. Linda
    Posted 19 February, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    We are living the dream this year and going to Wimbledon on our trip to London. We live in the states (Delaware) Anything special I should know? I dont want to miss anyting really good becasue of timing.

  5. char
    Posted 22 February, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Hey,

    I moved to London a couple of weeks ago and would like to watch some tennis this year on Henman Hill. Dies anybody know if this is free or not?

    Char x

  6. Anna
    Posted 24 February, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Wimbledon truly is a great day out. I have been going on and off most years since I was 16 (I am now 31). I normally get tickets, but have quequed up once-the best seats I have ever had!!! If you get an opportunity to attend-don’t say no. Make sure you go to the practice courts, and if a Brit is playing and you haven’t got tickets for that court, then go and sit on the hill-the atmosphere is phenomenal. If you love tennis, then it really is a must!!!

    • Posted 1 April, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Folks,
      If you haven’t got tickets already allocated, unless you queue or pay over priced debenture tickets, then I can’t see how you’ll get tickets. You might be able to buy them online somewhere, but I would suggest getting there early and joining the queue. You might not get show court tickets but you’ll get into the grounds and the first week is fantastic. We were lucky enough to get tickets for the semi’s last year, but the atmosphere wasn’t as good as all the outer courts were shut. And we still went and sat on Henmen Hill for the atmosphere, especially when Andy M was playing.

  7. Posted 1 March, 2010 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    We will arrive in London with a group of people on the first Monday of Wimbledon. I currently attend all the sessions of the US Open, and this will be my first experience at Wimbledon. Does anyone have any suggestions of the best way to enjoy the Wimbledon experience without paying some overpriced package tour? Or are some of the package tours the best way for the experience. I really don’t need anything that gives me free alcohol, but front row seats would be very special.

    Thank you for any assistance,
    Jeff Hand
    hand_jeff@hotmail.com
    914-960-3055 (New York City)

  8. Bobbie
    Posted 4 March, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I will be in London on the day before the championships open (unfortunately, I have to fly out on Monday). I was wondering if it would be possible to see some practice sessions on the Sunday (20 June). I can’t find out anything about them. If so, is there anything I should know prior to arriving? Any info would be most appreciated

  9. Georgina Spasic
    Posted 8 March, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m finally going to Wimbeldon this year. I can’t wait.I ‘ve always watched on tv.

  10. Jane
    Posted 9 March, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    I live near to Wimbledon Tennis and every year my father used to take me up there, we would manage to get into the grounds and somehow found our way into some of the best matches & finals ever, it was easier then, this was the 80’s after all! Now I just apply in the ballot and have been successful and enjoyed it very much.I now take my disabled mum who has managed to get lucky and get men’s final tickets this year we cant wait.

    However, just being there, walking around the outside courts, up on the hill, the people, the atmosphere, the view, everything is wonderfull, it truly is a great way to spend a day and watch great matches.

    Good luck to those hoping to get tickets from the queue system, i have heard that is great fun to do.:)

    Jane
    Wimbledon

  11. jose
    Posted 12 March, 2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Hello everyone, I want to travel this year to Wimbledon 2010, i´m from Spain and i love tennis … i see ticket for internet and i think are very expensive … anyone can tell me how much cost tickets for the first rounds 1rst, second, and thirst?? o any form to watch good tennis for less money? thank you very much

  12. Rob
    Posted 18 March, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t believe I was there. The weather was awful. The food expensive but delicious. The tennis players are smaller than expected. Lots of green, lots of crowds. But the best thing about Wimbledon is that it’s very civilised. I was young and went on my own and the stewards and official etc are play fair. They won’t allow Mr So and so to push in before you just because they talk with a plum in their mouth.

  13. kate
    Posted 21 March, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Went last year total tennis addict. Just won tickets in lottery for this year…so excited. Does anyone know how to get close to the practice courts? I was watching from afar but could not get close up.

  14. K. Sreenivasan
    Posted 28 March, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I first listened to Wmbldn Final between Drobny and Rosewall on SW radio with my dad and wept when Ken lost. I saw the ‘Kashi of Tennis’ in Oct. 2000 on a guided tour. Finally we will be there this summer for the final week. Oh can’t wait. I hope I manage to buy tickets soon.

  15. lou wingfield
    Posted 3 April, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    I installed a grass tennis court in my yard in 1993 and I love it. I will be visiting London in May and want to tour the grounds and museum. Is there anything else I can do while I’m there? Play???? Someone, please let me know.

  16. Tammi
    Posted 7 April, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I first visited Wimbledon in June 2009. My nephew was playing in the Junior’s tournament. Walking up the hill, watching the ball girls and boys march in formation each morning, queues, heat, seeing the tournament as an “insider” all just dreams come true. I loved it all!

    • Janet Griffiths
      Posted 29 April, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      Hi Linda – I got my confirmation of my tickets (2 for Centre Court for the first Monday) today (29.4.10) – so pleased! Good luck to you.

    • Lynda
      Posted 6 May, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      oh brilliant – so pleased for you. Still not heard anything as yet, but will try again next year. Enjoy it – we did last year.

  17. Lynda
    Posted 7 April, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I went last year for the first time. Absolutely brilliant. I had centre court tickets for the opening day via the public ballot. Sat on Henman Hill, had strawberries and cream, Pimms and bought a few souvenirs from the shop. Would love to go again this year but not been lucky as yet. Does anyone know if it is too late now to get the tickets or could I still get a letter?

  18. Posted 12 April, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    HI Second time lucky with ballot tickets for this year. I am travelling to london on the monday of the first week and staying in a hotel in croydon. Someone told me there are lockers at wimbledon to store holdalls etc. Does anyone know if this is the case? I dont fancy lugging an overnight bag around all day!

  19. gemma owers
    Posted 15 April, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Hi everyone me and my sister really really want to go to wimbledon this year we are planning on queing for tickets maybe spending one day on a main court, if were lucky, and a day chillin on henman hill (yes it will always be henman hill in my book). Does anyone know if you can just go into the grounds or if you need to have a court ticket to get in. Also does anyone know if there are showers and toilets in the camping area? Please help a little confused and very exicited first timer

  20. Ann Glover
    Posted 15 April, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Trying to figure out if it is possible to get tickets now (post ballot and before the actual tournament) for one day the first week. Traveling with daughters and need to commit to our flights now but want to know that we will have tickets then.
    Any help is appreciated. 🙂

  21. Joreen B.
    Posted 15 April, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to be studying abroad in London this summer, and Wimbledon is one of my priority events! I simply can’t wait to experience my favorite sporting event in person–and to run into Roger Federer (my tennis idol), Rafa, Andy Roddick, etc. would be just incredible! I’m hoping to go sometime during the first week and get a grounds pass to catch some of the players practicing, and I’d love to get a grounds pass for Finals Sunday. Anyway, I look forward to this first-time experience!

  22. Louise
    Posted 19 April, 2010 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Hi, am a tennis fan but have always watch the Grand Slams on TV. This year, there is chance for us to be in London during Wimbledon and we would love to catch some matches but tickets online are really expensive. Can someone help advise that if we join the queue, what is the ticket cost for the 1st few rounds we have to pay? Thanks much in advance

  23. Stacy
    Posted 22 April, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Hey!
    Love Wimbledon and watch it every year on the TV. This year however, my sister and I have got tickets for the men’s semi-finals!! I am so looking forward to going. Just wondering if anyone had any tips, like we have tickets to how long will queues be? etc
    Thanks

  24. Hunt
    Posted 22 April, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi everyone.
    For the first time I´m going to The Championships, and I can´t wait. I`m going with my mum and sister, we´re travelling from Denmark and spend day 3 at the Centre Court and day 4 at Co.no.1. It´s fairly expensive, but for us it is a dream come true. We have booked witk Keith Prowse, the official tour arranger. The booking went through last august, so we had quite a few choises at that time. We hope we get to see Caroline Wozniacki play one of those two days. See you all.

    • Lynda
      Posted 29 April, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dr Eve On this website go the the heading tickets and then on the public ballot and you will find all the information you need. I was lucky last year on my first time of trying but had not luck this year. Good Luck and I really hope you get some tickets. I will be trying again next year.

  25. Dr. Eye
    Posted 28 April, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    We want to go to Wimbledon in 2011. Could someone tell me how to apply for the tickets or how to get in the lottery. This is going to be our first trip to England and want to go on the first week in the middle of the week Thurs. and Fri. Any helpful tips on planning this trip would be greatly appreciated

  26. Judith
    Posted 28 April, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    My sister and I are taking our mum for her 60th birthday to Wimbledon this year as a surprise. We understand that the only way to get decent priced tickets now is to camp overnight. Our only reservation is that camping would be our mum’s worst nightmare and don’t want this to spoil her birthday. Has anyone got any suggestions on alternatives? When do you think we would need to queue from to be guaranteed tickets?

  27. Avi
    Posted 29 April, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know where is the best place to stay during Wimbledon? Any recommendations? I am planning to get there on the 20th for a week. Any accomendation recommendations? Thanks.

  28. Phil and Nicola
    Posted 30 April, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    We are visiting Wimbledon for the 1st time this year and have tickets for number 1 court on the opening day. We are totally thrilled and can’t wait to make the journey down from Leeds. We have booked the trains, the hotel and we are counting the days.

  29. Posted 23 May, 2010 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    our first time this year and orgasmic with excitment. Tickets through the ballot but would love to do the queue maybe next year?

  30. Angela
    Posted 30 May, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    After being unsuccessful in the ballot many times I have at last got a ticket – only one, but it’s for Centre Court on the first Friday so I am being brave and coming on my own. Got my hotel, train and flights all sorted. I am so excited, I just can’t believe I am really going to be there – I love Wimbledon and watch every year. I just got my letter from the ballot yesterday so there is hope for all you others out there who may still be waiting.

  31. Posted 7 June, 2010 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Queueing isn’t necessarily de rigour if you plan your day right!

    Go early and make an event of it!

    The grounds are expansive, extensive and exotic, and if you plan right, there’s something for everyone, from the exceedingly poor, to the extraordinarily wealthy!

    Do do the strawberry and cream!

    And while in London, check out the parks! There’s ALWAYS something going on!

  32. Posted 24 July, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Something to add to my bucket list of things I must do. Congrats on another fantastic event this year. Quite something that marathon match!

    Joe 😀
    Dentist in Toronto Etobicoke (Canada)

  33. Posted 25 July, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Queuing for centre court tickets overnight is an amazing experience in itself and highly worth it!!

  34. Posted 29 July, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I grew up in country Australia as well, and late nights/early mornings during Wimbledon was a yearly ritual. I lived in London from 1999 to 2001 but missed the Wimbledon season, so I came back in 2005. I still have my Wimbledon Queue certificate. I just got the outside court pass to get a feel of the atmosphere and it lived up to my expectations.

  35. Posted 31 July, 2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    We have been dreaming about Wimbledon. My wife was fortunate enough to go to the tournament at Indian Wells a few years ago. We watch Wimbledon religiously, even getting up at 5:30am Saturday morning to watch it live (thank God for big screen HDTVs!). With any luck, we’ll get to go someday in the not too distant future.

  36. Posted 2 August, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I am great lover of wimbledon, try to make program many times to go wimbledon. But unable to do that. At this time when i read the above blog, it gives me energy to see the wimbledon. Sure next wimbledon, I am coming.

  37. Posted 4 August, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I agree Wimbledon could never be a disappointment no matter where you grew up. It is not just the excitement of world class tennis that grips you nor even the tranquil peaceful feeling of strolling round the grounds. The very history of the place seems to add to the electrifying energy!

  38. Posted 8 August, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I have never thought of Wimbledon as a must-to-visit place. I am fine with watching the games on TV. But now I will consider a visit next year.

  39. lou wingfield
    Posted 13 September, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I made it to Wimbledon and the French Open while in Europe in May. I did an extensive tour of Wimbledon and it was great…beautiful grass tennis courts..
    Lou

  40. Alison
    Posted 7 October, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi I am trying to organise tickets for a surprise for my sisters 40th next year. Is we sent her to queue up which day is best to go on and what time should she que from?

  41. Posted 5 November, 2010 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    I have been to London but not Wimbledon. I am hoping to get there but am not having much luck digging up information on the camping facilities.

  42. Posted 2 December, 2010 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    And if you happen to come to North America, do check out the parks there too! Plenty of backpacking, hiking, and camping to enjoy! Cheerio!

  43. Posted 14 December, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Wimbleton is truly one of the world’s great sporting events as much enjoyed for it’s attendees as it’s tennis! Great atmosphere even when its raining and who knows maybe we might even get to see Tim win!


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