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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Wimbledon Experience: What To Expect & How to Get Tickets

So I was lucky enough to get tickets for the first two days at Wimbledon this year and after reading up on various forums and travel sites, I've created a guide on what to expect for those who are thinking of visiting the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

How To Get Tickets

The Ballot
The first way to get tickets is by winning the lottery, or what Wimbledon calls, the ballot. You have to send a request by snail mail with a self-addressed envelope so that they can send you a form by snail mail to fill out to request to be placed in the ballot. Then you have to snail mail it back to them to have a chance to win the right to buy tickets via a random draw. If you’re not in the UK, you can imagine how long it takes and requests happen a year in advance. They say that the form is “special” and cannot be completed online. Welcome to the 1960’s Wimbledon. I guess they want to make it hard on purpose but it really just makes it a hassle. Tradition dies hard and given the elitist status of Wimbledon, I bet this will be around for a while.

The Queue
So for those who like to camp out in a tent, this is for you! There is apparently a whole experience in sleeping overnight for limited tickets released on the day of play. I guess people tell stories and meet other hardcore fans but I’ve never been so if you’re reading this and you have stories, feel free to comment. I don’t think this is an option for someone from overseas as lugging camping gear is out of the question. Show Court tickets (Central Court, Court 1-3) require you to maybe even camp out for two nights and ground tickets also get gobbled up by those in line 3-4 hours before the gates open at 10:30am.

Returned Tickets
If you can get pass the gates, (i.e. at least a ground pass which allows you to all the non Show Courts) you can buy upgrades starting at 3pm to get a seat on a Show Court with all proceeds going to charity. I’ve even seen people give away their tickets so if you aren’t shy, you can simply ask those who are leaving Center Court for their stubs. At around 7pm, those people are pretty sure to be leaving for the day. 

Getting Tickets Online
This is how I got my tickets which I think is the best way. Tickets usually go on sale at 9am the day before and sellout within minutes. I got a ticket for Court 3 and the next day on Center Court. I’ve been to the Rogers Cup in Canada every year for the past 12 years or so and felt that seeing any player up close on a small court is a lot better than seeing a top seed from the nose-bleeds. I wanted to try both and I discuss later on what is was like on those Show Courts. 

The Courts

Court 3
Not the biggest court, but you know what, this works to your advantage. I got to see Stosur play and a great match between Isner and  Falla (Falla in 5 sets). You can see the action up close and personal.

Stosur wins on Day 1
Isner's big serve...but loses in 5 sets

Center Court
I saw Kvitova, Nadal and Murray. My seat was the in the second last row in the entire court. However, being almost behind the players, I was surprised about how good the view was. I think that seats on the side of the court would have a bad viewing angle – you wouldn’t be able to tell the trajectory of the ball and when it goes out.  Not only was the view pretty good (much better than the highest section at the Rogers Cup) but you’re also under a permanent roof so no worries about the rain or sun. A few hours flew by so quickly and the cool weather made it much more bearable compared to other tournaments where the sun is just draining.

Waiting for change over to finally get to Center Court!

Kvitova wins after a slow start
Rain delay of's Wimbledon!
Nadal was down 0-4. 15-30 in the first set! Bellucci had an easy volley to go up 2 game points for 5-0 and missed.
Murray kills Daveydenko

Courts 4-19
The thing with Wimbledon is that there are TONS of matches to watch. With 15 “free” courts and say four matches on each on, there is bound to be something exciting going on. I’m not sure how the other Grand Slams are but I’m guessing it’s similar.

Young vs. Youzhny

Other Stuff

Sony 3D TV Kiosk
Sony had some demos for their new 3D TVs. While it is interesting I still find them to be a bit annoying as the pictures never seems to quite line up perfectly for me. Anyways, I tried the latest Virtua Tennis game on PS3 with the Move Controller and must say that it’s lot better than an Wii tennis games out there. You can actually move your guy around the court and have a bit more control on your shots. Of course, nothing beats the real thing.

Serving Speed Booth
This was a disappointment. First they only have a small junior racket and decompressed red balls. To top things off, the radar was weird with people serving what seemed to be 80mph or even 100mph and the radar registering 12mph. C’mon Wimbledon, doesn’t anyone oversee the festivities?

Really good and ripe! £2.50

Henman Hill
Nice spot to sit down and relax.

Autograph Section
Anne Keothavong, UK #1 Ranked Player

Free Photo 
Fun but you have to wait 20minutes for them to print it.

Random Pictures

Overall, I am quite happy with my Wimbledon experience. Things can be overhyped to the point where there is an inevitable let down but I must say that I was surprised by the whole experience. Center Court tickets were amazing, even from far back, although I don’t know how it would have been from the side of the court (where I usually sit in other tournaments and it’s hard to enjoy when you can’t tell if the ball is out until it hits the ground).

So now you know how to get tickets and what to expect so if you are in London, I recommend that you try to go for at least one day!

1 comment:

  1. Randy, I finally got around to viewing your blog and the photos. Thanks for sharing and thanks again for hitting with me while I was in Montreal. I'll see you in San Francisco the next time you're out this way. With best regards, Jonathan