Wimbledon – The Queue Exam
Since the Championship was taking place, I thought I’d see if I could attend. It turns out that Wimbledon is one the very few, if not the only, major sporting events that reserves tickets for people who show up the day of an event. Everyday they sell 500 tickets to each the show courts and 6000 ground tickets that get you access to all the other courts. This policy spawns one the largest and most infamous lines (or queues as they call them over here) in all of England. I mean they give out 7500 tickets in the morning and there are always more people in line than that. That’s one heck of a line. But queueing is an art form in Britain. Check out the handy pamphlet I received when I joined the back of the queue:
Ah, ‘A Guide to Queueing For The Championships,’ everyone’s favorite early morning read. Speaking of early morning, here’s a quick view of my day at Wimbledon:
4:00 AM – 1st alarm goes off
4:15 AM – 2nd alarm goes off and I actually get out of bed
4:45 AM – Leave for the train station
5:12 AM – Catch a train for Wimbledon Station
5:50 AM – Arrive at Wimbledon and share a taxi to the back of the line
6:00 AM – Begin queueing
10:30 AM – Get inside the club, get a seat at a court
12:00 PM – Tennis starts
9:00 PM – Tennis ends
9:15 PM – Catch a bus to the station
9:45 PM – Catch a really slow train to Guildford
11:00 PM – Get back to my room an proceed to sleep for many hours
Hey that’s only 4 and a half hours in line for 9 hours of high-quality tennis. Not a bad deal if you ask me. It turns out that I was 30 minutes or less away from getting a ticket to Court 2. To get one of the tickets to Center Court, you would have had to been camping out since 4PM the day before.
A portion of the queue. If you look closely you can see that it extends all the way to the back of the picture and is 3 or 4 people wide everywhere. Oh, and there’s at least as many people around the curve in back. And, at least that many in front of me too. And did I mention that the line comes into the gate from both sides? So there’s an entire other queue on the other side of the entrance, and one the people working told us that that one was 40% longer than this one. Yeah, it’s one heck of a line.
The first match I watched was former champion Conchita Martinez losing to Peschke. I then proceeded to wander a lot, watching a lot of doubles and mixed doubles because you could find a seat there.
Penneta after defeating Danilidou (at least I think that’s how you spell her name).
The view from the front row
of Court 13. The rightmost building is
Center Court. The thing in the middle
is one of the many places in the All England Lawn Tennis Club where people way
more privileged than me can go. The
tall thing is an apartment building that looks like it probably has a better
view of the courts than most of the seats.
The huge screen outside of Court 1. All the people here are watching Maria Sharapova. I wonder why? Probably because she’s the defending champ. Yeah, that must be it.
The same hill as above, but when Scotsman Andy Murray was playing his match on Center Court. This used to be called be called Henman Hill after English player Tim Henman, but when Henman lost earlier in the week, it was quickly renamed Murray Mount.
Sorry I don’t have more pictures. I felt odd taking pictures in the middle of a point, so I didn’t do it. All in all, it was a great experience. I saw professional poker player Gus Hansen there. Although I’ve seen him win several million dollars on TV, he seemed to just a ground ticket like the rest of the peons. And don’t worry, I ate my portion of strawberries and cream.