With Rory McIlroy still wiping the US Open champagne from his lips, maybe now is the time for another much-heralded celtic sportsman to claim a major championship. By common consent Andy Murray, winner at Queen's Club a week ago, is in good form and has the game to win Wimbledon. It's just that he has to get past at least one all-time superstar and a guy who has only lost one match all year to do it. James Ward, Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha might also have fortunes we'll be following for at least a few days, and, unlike next year's Olympic tournament at the All England Club, there's plenty of tickets left and you only have to queue to get one.
The basic rules of how it all works have remained very similar since we brought changes to the system to your attention when they were first made in 2008. Last year we added the experiences of Londonista Caroline who succesfully camped overnight for her Court Two tickets in 2009. This year there's a new showcourt, No. 3, and some slightly different procedures to follow, especially online. Here's the rundown.
- Surprisingly few people know that about 500 Centre Court tickets are made available via Ticketmaster for the following day's play at £47.30 each. They used to go on sale at 8.30pm the day before they were to be used, but now they're available much earlier, at 9am. New online this year are tickets for the rebuilt Court No. 3 priced at £38.50, or £19.25 for a wheelchair space. Returned tickets for either court may also be available at the same price with availability refreshed at noon each day.
- If you decide on the more traditional queueing in person, a single queue operates from Gate 3 of the All England Club.
- On joining the queue you receive a dated and numbered card that you must keep until the turnstile. In 2009 Caroline and her friends arrived at 8pm and found that there were already 1,704 people in the queue ahead of them.
- There is camping overnight in Wimbledon Park for an expected 2,000 people per night. Caroline and friends enjoyed their evening, though, courtesy of some friendly folk with frisbees and volleyballs as well as the handy availablity of burgers, ice cream and decent toilets.
- Campers are woken at 6am by Wimbledon stewards. Caroline found that, in practice, many wake up with the general hubbub starting at about 5am.
- Around 7.30, 1,500 or so coloured wristbands are distributed indicating entitlement to a ticket for Centre, No. 1 or No. 2 court. Tickets for the new No. 3 court CANNOT be acquired in this way. They can only be bought the day before via Ticketmaster (as above), though there is some free seating on the court that you can grab with a simple ground pass. Caroline says she was allocated a court two wristband around nine o'clock despite being about 1,700th in the queue. Her good fortune may indicate that the odds (and times) have changed a little thanks to the opening of the new, larger Centre Court. Caroline was also able to deposit her tent and sleeping bags at the Left Luggage area for a mere £1 an item.
- At least 6,000, and as many as 9,000, general entry tickets are available, but by 10am there will already be more people than that in the queue. Once inside, very few spectators will leave until after 5pm.
- Sales are strictly one ticket per person and cash only.
- You may take in only one bag, which must be soft-sided and measure no more than 16” [was 18"] x 12" x 12" (40cm [was 45cm] x 30cm x 30cm).
- Neither equipment nor another person may hold a place for anyone unless there has been prior negotiation.
The British Tennis site will help you identify whereabouts in Wimbledon Park to actually find the queue.
Photo of a Wimbledon queuing ticket via acme's Flickr stream.