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Your Ultimate Guide to Wimbledon

June 29th, 2016

The Wimbledon Championship reigns as the oldest tennis tournament, dating back to 1877. Only 200 people attended the first Wimbledon, a stark contrast to the 484,391 in attendance over the 13 days of the 2015 tournament. While crowds have grown, the rich traditions have remained, making Wimbledon a coveted event — even for those who aren’t fans of the sport.

Attending Wimbledon Tennis Championship

There is no question that Wimbledon is the most prestigious of tennis events in the world. If this Grand Slam tournament is on your list, you’ll want to read this guide to Wimbledon before you plan your trip to this annual tennis tournament.

Interesting Facts About Wimbledon

Before we delve into the when, where and how of attending the tournament, it’s helpful to explore the event a little more to fully appreciate the experience. Wimbledon is the only major tennis tournament still played on grass courts, which helps contribute to its prestigious standing and its rich connection to the past.

Many of the same rules and expectations that governed the tournament in the early years still ring true today, with some slow adaptations along the way. An all-white dress code for players has been around since the beginning of the tournament. Over the years, the all-white rule has loosened somewhat, but players are still expected to mainly wear white from head to toe. The umpire makes the final decision on whether or not an outfit is white enough. Here are some other interesting Wimbledon facts as well:

- The clothing wasn’t the only thing that was white. Yellow tennis balls weren’t used at Wimbledon until 1986. Prior to that tournament, only white tennis balls were used.

- The tournament gets extensive media coverage, with an average of 3,250 media personnel in attendance.

- 350 umpires make the calls throughout the two weeks of competition.

- Rain delays are part of the tradition at Wimbledon. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait for the rain to pass. The exception is action that takes place on the Centre Court. Thanks to the addition of a retractable roof, this court stays dry to keep games moving.

Wimbledon Media Coverage

The When and Where of Wimbledon

When is Wimbledon played? The third of the four Grand Slam tournaments always starts at the end of June and goes into July for a total of two weeks of play. As the days pass, champions emerge. Underdogs take down sure bets, and many exciting tennis matches take place.

The tournament gets its name from its location. Wimbledon is in the southwest section of London and is the locale for the annual tournament. The specific location of the tournament is the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Getting Tickets to the Oldest Tennis Championship

How To Get tickets To Wimbledon
If you’re wondering how to get into Wimbledon, the simple answer is a ticket, but figuring out how to get that ticket is not so simple. You have a few different options on where to buy Wimbledon tickets, depending on how willing you are to wait in line and the flexibility of your schedule.

Here are the ways tickets for Wimbledon are allocated:

Public Ballot: To get tickets via the public ballot, you need to enter during the qualifying period. The ballot generally opens in August of the year prior to the tournament, with the cutoff in December of the year prior. This option requires several months’ advance knowledge of your trip to Wimbledon in order to beat the deadline, so it won’t work if you’re thinking of a last-minute trip. You are also not guaranteed tickets if you enter the public ballot, as more people generally enter the ballot than there are available tickets. 

In addition, tickets are randomly assigned by a computer, so you won’t have control over the date, court or seats you get, which is another consideration when you go this route. If you are lucky enough to get tickets through the public ballot option, you are notified and required to pay for your seats. Additional ballots may occur close to the tournament dates if tickets are returned or declined, so failing to get a ticket initially does not mean you are completely out of luck.

Daily Ticket Queue: Want a shot at Wimbledon tickets on a particular day? Be prepared to stay in a queue in hopes of scoring a ticket from the limited quantity available each day except the last four days for Centre Court, No.1 Court and No.2 Court. Get in line early to snag one of these tickets. Each person may only buy one ticket and must pay in cash. You can also get Grounds Passes in the queue, which provide access to unreserved seating and standing room on Courts No. 3-19.

Online Ticketmaster Option: Online ticket sales for several hundred tickets for Centre Court and No.3 Court open the day before play. These tickets are available exclusively via Ticketmaster and typically sell out almost immediately.

Debenture Tickets: A final option is to get your hands on a debenture. Issued every five years, debentures offer a guaranteed seat for each day of the tournament for five consecutive years. The 2,500 Centre Court debentures for 2016 to 2020 cost holders £50,000 each. No.1 Court debentures were less at £13,700 for the 2012-2016 period. 

Tickets for debenture holders are the only Wimbledon tickets that are transferable and free to be sold on the open market. Other tickets are highly controlled to prevent a black market on Wimbledon tickets. If you don’t want to become a debenture holder yourself, consider buying a ticket from a debenture holder to get one of the best seats at Wimbledon without entering the pubic ballot or waiting in a long queue.

How much are tickets for Wimbledon? The type of ticket and location of your seat affects the price. At the low end, Ground Passes generally cost between £20 and 25. Prices go up from there, depending on the day in the tournament and the court, with the final matches costing the most.

Another way to get into Wimbledon is by purchasing one of the Wimbledon packages offered by Keith Prowse or Sportsworld, the two official tour operators of the tournament. The packages typically include Wimbledon tickets and hotel accommodations, crossing off two major items necessary to get you to the tournament. Cost for the packages depends on the date and location of the ticket selected as well as the rating of the hotel you choose —with options for three-, four- and five-star hotels.

Are you still looking for another way to buy tickets to Wimbledon? Contact us today to learn how you can purchase tickets through Quintessentially People.

Where to Stay for Wimbledon

Having tickets is only part of the logistics of how to get to Wimbledon. Staying at one of the hotels near Wimbledon keeps you close to the excitement with easy access to the grounds. Many hotels are within walking distance or a short trip via public transportation. If you don’t purchase a package that includes hotel accommodations, consider one of these hotels:

The Dog & Fox Wimbledon: This boutique hotel rests in the heart of the Wimbledon village, with an attached pub and restaurant for easy access to good drink and food while you’re away from the courts. The close proximity to the grounds makes this an ideal choice for your Wimbledon stay.

Hotel du Vin: Soak in the rich history of this property, which includes a refurbished home visited by Lord Tennyson, Oscar Wilde and other well-known historical figures. Close to the All England Club, this is another hotel option that keeps you close to the Wimbledon action.

Antoinette Hotel Wimbledon: With a convenient Wimbledon location, the Antoinette Hotel features roof gardens for a peaceful retreat when you aren’t enjoying action on the court. Air conditioning in the bedrooms keeps you comfortable in the summer heat. With a railway station and the tube location just minutes from the hotel, this location gives you easy access to almost any part of London if your vacation plans include more than just the Wimbledon matches.

Transportation to Wimbledon Grounds

Public transportation provides you easy access to the Wimbledon grounds without the headache of navigating traffic yourself. Organizers encourage spectators to use public transportation when possible. The London Underground, National Rail and public buses help you get to the site.

To get to Wimbledon via Underground, take the District Line to Southfields or Wimbledon, with a 15-minute walk and 20-minute walk respectively.

Wimbledon offers parking options on the grounds if you prefer to keep your car close. Two lots offer unreserved parking for a fee when available. Visitors also have the option of booking parking ahead of time in order to ensure a spot. Parking at Wimbledon gives you easy access to your car without waiting for public transportation, but it may cause delays because of the volume of traffic in the area.

If you prefer not to drive near the actual grounds, a park and ride option is available, with public buses shuttling people to and from Morden Park throughout each day of the tournament.

What to Eat at Wimbledon

Of course the tennis is the main focus at Wimbledon, but dining on delicious foods is also a big part of the experience — and no Wimbledon trip is truly complete without the famed strawberries and cream. Each year, roughly 28,000 kilograms of strawberries and 7,000 liters of fresh cream are served over the course of the tournament.

The tradition of eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon started long ago and continues to this day. Why the draw to strawberries and cream? It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reason, but it was likely due to the overlap of the tournament and prime strawberry season, as well as the popularity of strawberries in Victorian England.

These days, strawberries are picked fresh daily to be delivered, inspected and hulled at the Wimbledon grounds. Be sure to indulge in at least one of the roughly 142,000 portions served during the tournament to get the true Wimbledon experience.

Strawberries & Cream At Wimbledon

Since you can’t survive on strawberries alone, however, you’ll want to have a lineup of other dining options in mind. There are many restaurants near Wimbledon to satisfy the cravings of everyone in your party.

Fuel your Wimbledon trip with one of these restaurants, which are close to the action:

The Wingfield Restaurant: When you feel like table service, head to the Wingfield Restaurant for luncheon or afternoon tea. Reservations are available during the Championships to avoid a lengthy wait.

Food Village: The Food Villages offers hot, take-away food with a wide range of options. Items on the menu at the various dining spots in the village include pizza, sandwiches, salads, Cornish pasties and fried chicken. This dining area also offers alcoholic beverages, coffee and ice cream.

The Baseline Diner: Choose from three different dining options within one facility. The Grill is a table service option serving American-style food and Wimbledon favorites. Roast uses a farm to fork format with a wide selection of British offerings. Lavazza Coffee Shop is also within this diner and offers assorted coffee drinks.
Debenture holders have access to additional dining options. These on-site restaurants are exclusively for use by debenture holders.

Afternoon tea is another tradition that remains at the Wimbledon Championship. The on-site afternoon tea is available at the Wingfield Restaurant, Conservatory Kitchen and Café Pergola. The tea includes reception sandwiches, Devon scones, tea pastries and strawberries and cream.

If you prefer a picnic tea, you can pre-order an afternoon tea picnic for two, which includes all of the same foods, plus two hot drink vouchers and two Evian mineral waters, all packed inside a Wimbledon cool bag. This allows you to leisurely enjoy your afternoon tea picnic when you are ready.

Wimbledon Etiquette

Wimbledon Etiquette
Wimbledon is steeped in tradition, so it stands to reason traditional tennis etiquette is in play. While the tournament has a celebratory feeling about it, you won’t find fans heckling players, and certain behaviors won’t pass.

Follow these Wimbledon etiquette tips to avoid making waves:

- Don’t distract players in any way. Silence during rallies is expected Wimbledon behavior.

- Banners, flags and noisemakers are not allowed. Even your oversized hat may be banned from the grounds.

- No formal dress code is set for spectators, but wear clothes fitting of a major tennis tournament with traditional roots. Dress casually for the weather, but don’t show up looking scruffy, and leave shirts boasting political stances at home, as articles with the potential for ambush marketing are not allowed. A hat to block the sun and an umbrella to keep you dry are also smart options.

- Silence your phone, and leave your selfie stick at home, as it will not be allowed inside the tournament.

- Only bring well-behaved children. Any child five and older needs a full-price ticket, must always be accompanied by an adult and must not disturb other spectators.

- Leave large bags at home. Each spectator is allowed one bag, which cannot exceed 16” x 12” x 12”. Hard-sided bags, such as briefcases, are prohibited. Expect to have your bag searched upon entering.

Plan Your Wimbledon Trip

A trip to the Wimbledon Championships requires an understanding of how the ticketing works, as well as an understanding of and respect for the rules and etiquette surrounding this traditional tennis tournament. With this guide to Wimbledon, you are on your way to planning an exciting trip to experience one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.