Tennis fans complain about long queues outside Wimbledon Championships

·4-min read
Queues outside Wimbledon (REUTERS)
Queues outside Wimbledon (REUTERS)

Tennis fans on Monday vented their frustration at long queues and ticket problems outside Wimbledon on the first day of the Championships.

Hundreds of fans could be seen lining up outside of the All England Lawn Tennis Club from about 11am to get into the famous sporting grounds.

Some claimed they were standing in the rain for as long as two hours as staff struggled with the number of arrivals and tickets didn’t work.

On arrival, spectators must put on their face covering, show their tickets and provide proof of a negative Covid test or double vaccinated status. They then have their bags checked by security as normal.

Tickets are usually obtained through an online ballot - or thousands of people every day queue up in order to get onto the AELTC’s show courts to watch Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Sir Andy Murray play.

Due to the pandemic, capacity is set at 50 per cent - or 22,000 - which will increase to full capacity on Centre Court for the women’s and men’s finals.

But this year, tickets were sold online - which seemingly lead to a number of “teething issues” when people arrived.

Teething problems outside the AELTC (REUTERS)
Teething problems outside the AELTC (REUTERS)

Tennis fan Joe Cane said: “Enormous queues for [ticket] assistance as so many tickets won’t work. Whole process from purchasing to getting in has been shambolic.”

Pamela Gupta said: “Still long queues to get into Wimbledon even with tickets.”

Maggie Rawlings wrote: “Massive queues to get into Wimbledon -having wanted no ticket queue they’ve created one - sort it out.”

One twitter user- who goes by the name of Adi Bop - wrote: “2 hour + queues for ticket holders despite allocated entry time slots , stewards unaware of gate entrances for specific courts, rain. Awesome! Can’t wait to miss the matches we paid for.”

However, at the Championships some fans seemed happier with their experience.

Matt Jones told the Standard: “We were in line for about 20 minutes, it was fine. There was a queue but it wasn’t too bad - nothing we’re not used to at the moment and not too overcrowded.”

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Ahead of the competition, Sally Bolton - the AELTC CEO - told the Standard great effort had been put in to ensuring arriving at the Champsionships was smooth.

“We want to deliver a safe Championships,” she said. “But one fans can recognise. Our priority is to keep people safe and you will see a number of measures that we are now all very familiar with across the site - increased hand sanitizer, the use of face masks. Everyone has worked incredibly hard in a very short amount of time to make it happen.”

Meanwhile, medical staff and other “inspirational individuals” from the pandemic on Monday took their seats in the Royal Box and were given a standing ovation before the first match on Centre Court.

Guests included Hannah Ingram-Moore, daughter of veteran fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised over £32 million for the NHS, as well as designers of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Announcers paid tribute to the “important work” done by keyworkers before the first game on Centre Court between defending champion Novak Djokovic and 19-year-old Jack Draper from the UK.

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Dame Sarah Gilbert, who co-designed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also attended the Royal Box.

She and her colleagues were applauded and cheered by other match-goers.

She was joined by the Duke of Kent and former British racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart.

Ms Ingram-Moore, who wore a blue dress, smiled widely and waved as her father’s name received cheers.

Organisers have issued hundreds of free tickets to keyworkers throughout the tournament to say thank you for their work during the pandemic.

“In order to say thank you, the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club) has provided 100 daily Centre and No.1 Court tickets to various groups ranging from the NHS to Transport For London … and other inspirational individuals, all in recognition of the service they have provided to those in their communities throughout the pandemic,” the organisation said on its website.

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