I thought it was about time that I did one of my detailed guides for Wimbledon. I’m lucky enough to live just 25 miles away from one of the four Slams and have been very fortunate over the years to visit Wimbledon. Despite being so close, every year is always a challenge trying to get tickets so there’s a hefty section to open! Hope this guide is helpful to anyone that may be a considering a trip to Wimbledon in the future..
So… of the four Slams, Wimbledon is the most difficult Slam to get tickets for. Here’s all the different ways to get tickets that I am aware of.
Public ballot (UK): This has famously consisted of sending a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to return an application form that needs to be filled in and sent back. You may have read recently that Wimbledon are updating their ballot to an online system. Selfishly, i’m not too thrilled about this! The SASE method was a faff but it probably put people off for that reason so i’m expecting it to be even more popular next year.
My family combined have always put in about four applications through the public ballot each year. Back in the day, at least one of us would always get tickets. It’s definitely got harder (success of Andy?) although my jammy brother continues to ride his luck as he’s got tickets in the public ballot for the past two years. Hey, i’m not complaining! The best tickets we ever got was back in 2009 for the men’s final.
Successful applicants normally find a lucky envelope through their letterbox in mid-February, often on a Monday. We now know immediately from the font! Funny story – we visited my brother’s house earlier this year thinking it was the magic Monday in February where they do their big release. I stayed in the car while he went and checked. A few seconds later, he came out, running and grinning profusely, waving the magic letter 🤣. Wimbledon will keep sending returns up to June so there’s still a small chance of success after February if you haven’t received anything.
Public ballot (International): For anyone overseas that is interested in visiting Wimbledon, the first port of call should be the International ballot (FAQs here). The deadline for applying is normally mid-December with successful applicants notified between January and March. I don’t know of anyone who has been successful in the ballot from Tennis Twitter but definitely worth a shot!
LTA venue ballot: My tickets this year came from my tennis club’s annual ballot. Depending on the size of the club, LTA registered venues often get an allocation of tickets. My club gets five sets of tickets which we dish out through a lucky dip. There’s normally less than 20 entries and my brother and I are both in it so good odds! Last year we got nothing but normally one of us gets lucky.
LTA ballots: Even if you don’t play tennis, you can sign up for the LTA team membership. This costs £30 with one of the main perks being entry into their Wimbledon ballot. For the past two years, the LTA has sold returned show court tickets throughout June and i’ve seen quite a few people be successful on Tennis Twitter. You have to be a LTA member to be eligible to purchase the resales.
Ticketmaster: Several hundred Centre Court and No.3 Court tickets are sold for each day of the Championships on Ticketmaster. This includes returned tickets (on sale 48 hours before play) and reserved tickets (24 hours before play) for every day of the Championships. I’ve had quite of a bit success with the reserved tickets which are sold at 9am each morning for the following day’s play. It’s all luck of the draw and depends on a good Wi-Fi connection and clicking refresh at precisely 9am! Both times I have been successful is when i’ve bought a lone ticket for Court No.3. Two years ago my brother managed to get a pair of tickets for Court No.3. Generally, I think it’s more difficult when trying to purchase a pair.
Tickets purchased through Ticketmaster allow you to enter through Gate 7 next to No.2 Court. The queue is normally much shorter than standard gates so it’s quick to get in! I believe the Centre Court seats via Ticketmaster are all at the back. We’ve had front row on No.3 Court going with Ticketmaster so would definitely recommend trying if you just want to get into the grounds.
The Queue: If all else fails and you’re not lucky to know someone with Debenture seats, then the only other way to get tickets is to queue! I’ve never tried this way and never intend to. Camping for tickets just personally isn’t for me. I have no interest in going to Wimbledon on little to no sleep and I wouldn’t be able to blog! The Wimbledon website has all the details you need for queuing. For live updates, there are various Twitter accounts such as @TheWimbledonQ and @ViewFromTheQ. It seems to get more popular by the year!
Getting to the venue
The best way of getting to Wimbledon is using public transport. If coming from central London, then you should get off at Southfields Tube station on the District line. I always arrive into the Wimbledon main line station. Back in the day, we used to queue at Wimbledon station for a bus to the grounds. Now we always walk and see more and more people doing this. While it is a bit of a hilly route, I would definitely recommend walking. It’s about a 15 minute swift walk. The players often stay locally so you might see a name or two – top spots over the years have included Petra Kvitova, Mirka Federer and Amelie Mauresmo.
Entering the grounds
The gates open at 10:30am around the grounds. There are numerous gates to enter and we often go in through Gate 12, adjacent to Court 12 on the western side of the grounds (see map from guidebook below). We always arrive close to when gates open and normally don’t wait longer than five minutes to get into the ground. We did have a problem this year where we had to wait 20 minutes on Friday to get in. We were queuing at Gate 12 which was then closed, so we had to go to the next one at Court 13. As play now starts at 11am, i’d recommend getting to the grounds for when they open. Perhaps because of the earlier start time, there wasn’t a mad dash like i’ve seen in the past to get a seat for the first match of the day on Court 3 or Court 12.
Restrictions on what to take into the grounds
A full list of restrictions can be found on the Wimbledon website. For cameras, you can take any lenses up to 300mm. There are no major restrictions on taking food and drink and we’ve never had a problem before. You can take in alcohol if you wish with one bottle of wine/champagne allowed. This year, they made you take a sip of your drink when checking bags.
Grounds and facilities
I always get goosebumps walking down Church Road and seeing Centre Court gloriously appear for the first time. I still feel the buzz every year! The grounds are immaculately kept and there are so many nice touches. It’s definitely not as spacious as say the Australian Open and there are times when it can feel really busy. The busiest time is about midday because Centre Court and No.1 Court don’t start till 1pm so everyone is out and about. After 1pm, things get a bit more manageable and we noticed this year that it seemed to empty from about 6:30pm.
There are toilets dotted all around the grounds and as to be expected, there can be queues when a match finishes. There are facilities for filling up water bottles with many located near toilets. There were queues at times after matches but definitely a BIG improvement with many more bottle refill facilities installed for the 2019 Championships.
I haven’t been on Centre Court since 2014 and I hope to get the opportunity again in the future! Even in the back row, the view on Centre Court is pretty damn fine. Our best ever seats were for the men’s final back in 2009 when we were about eight rows from the front. Seats were upgraded with the roof back in 2009 and are comfortable. The leg space is pretty decent too from what I remember. Matches under the roof are always a special occasion.
The new roof for No.1 Court came into operation during the 2019 Championships and it was exciting to be on the new court this year, even if we were so high up that we couldn’t actually see the roof! I’ve attached pre-roof pictures for a better view closer to the court. The seats have all been upgraded and are the same as on Centre Court. The leg space is OK. There can be some queues getting into the court on changeovers but it’s like any big stadium to be honest. No.1 court is a wonderful court to watch tennis. Even in the back row, you get a decent view. I’ve always found the atmosphere to be fantastic and it never fully comes across on the TV.
There isn’t a bad seat in No.2 Court and the sunken nature provides a superb view for all. It’s a bit out of the way in the South of the grounds and is generally quiet in between matches. It can get very busy at the ends of matches as the passages outside the court are quite narrow. I think the master plan is for Court 12 to go so this should hopefully open up this area. Note that this court is currently all reserved seating and you need a No.2 court ticket to get in. I believe this is to be reviewed in the future which i’m glad about as my personal feeling is that it should be unreserved and available to enter on a grounds pass.
Much like No.2 Court, there isn’t a bad seat in this court with great vantage points from every seat. It’s the biggest court you can get on without a ground pass with only about 25% of seats reserved. We’ve walked past No.3 Court before during the day and there have been massive queues outside. I found in 2019 that there were seats available up to the start of matches on 11am. I would suggest trying seats on the west stand which often seem to have less queues as it’s a bit more hidden.
This is my least favourite court and i’ve only been on it twice in 2018 and 2019. There is a big temporary stand which had an extra 680 seats installed in 2019. I like the new seats behind the court. It’s not a particularly enjoyable place to watch tennis with little leg space and this year, when we entered later in the day, the stands were packed with used drinks and rubbish. On a positive note, you do get a great view across the southern area of the grounds. When I watched a match here in 2018, sat close to court 8, I felt quite disengaged from the actual tennis on court 12.
Court 18 is legendary. I love watching from the roof as it gives a unique angle that you don’t get from many other stadiums in the world. There’s a great view across the grounds! Some of my favourite pictures (see Belinda Bencic below) have come from the roof. You have to walk up the steps adjacent to Henman Hill and then past the ticket office selling resales. You can normally get a space unless it’s a high profile match. Even the view from the main stand behind the court is good and there’s also two rows of seating either side of the court.
I’ve NEVER watched a match on Court 14 as it’s always packed! It’s on the main thoroughfare between Centre Court and No.1 Court so catches a lot of passing traffic with people tending to congregate at the entrance to the court.
Generally less busy than the outside courts in the south of the grounds and with seats on either side. I have found in the past that Court 17 is the easiest to get on and have watched Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka on this court in the past.
Courts 4, 7, 8 and 11 in the South of the grounds all have one stand of seating, while the other four courts have only benches and quite a few of these spaces are reserved for player coaches. Before Centre Court and No.1 Court play starts at 1pm, this area of the grounds tends to be rammed. Just walking between these courts can be a challenge. After 1pm, these courts are a bit more manageable. I think there will be the more space with the next stage of Wimbledon’s master plan. Even if it’s busy, they’ve got a kind of charm to them and I love watching doubles on these courts in the early evenings with the sun still shining.
The practice court facilities at Wimbledon are currently poor and i’m hoping they will be upgraded as part of the master plan. There’s a viewing area down at Aorangi in the North of the grounds which you have to queue for. This is often long in the morning, perhaps even a 10 to 15 minute wait. I tried in the afternoon this year where there was no queue but just one player practising! It’s normally quite cramped and taking pictures is difficult, often through fences and netting.
The best opportunity to see players practising is before play on the outside courts in the south end of the grounds (normally Court 9). We’ve seen the likes of Maria Sharapova, Grigor Dimitrov, Karolina Pliskova and Kristina Mladenovic in the past few years. Fingers crossed for some improvements in the years to come as Wimbledon are way behind the US Open and Australian Open for watching player practices.
Food and drink
There are numerous places for food and drink dotted around the grounds. I would say the main areas are probably on the eastern side of Centre Court and around No.1 Court, near Henman Hill. The former Court 19 has been replaced with the Walled Garden with food halls and large seating areas, and the new Southern Village was new for 2019 near No.2 court. We never buy hot food as we always bring our sandwiches but prices look pretty much in line with the other Slams. For example, fish and chips costs £9.50.
I always have a Pimm’s every year! They are pricey though at £8.50 a cup and they always fill them with a lot of ice. For the first ever time, we had strawberries and cream this year! Note that if you are a HSBC customer, I think you can get a free voucher. Otherwise, they are £2.50 which I think is surprisingly good value. You get 10 decent-sized strawberries with a generous portion of cream. Delicious!
I never tend to go in the shop during the Championships as i’m too busy watching tennis! The main store is on the South East corner of Centre Court. I bought a cap when I did the tour and museum last year. It was the perfect opportunity to buy something as it was much emptier! We did visit the shop this year (the brother wanted to look!) on the corner of No.1 Court before we left and it was manageable with not too many people later in the day. They do everything you could imagine but prices are steep. A pair of oven gloves cost £20!!!!
In terms of watching tennis, and personally that’s a big focus for me, Wimbledon is not my favourite of the Slams. I don’t like that there are three fully reserved courts. I loved the US Open because an Arthur Ashe ticket got you into every single court. Practice court opportunities are pretty limited too which is one of the reasons why I always enjoy spending some time in Eastbourne.
Wimbledon though is a special place for all tennis fans and being in the grounds is something special that I think stands out from the other three Slams. I’ve been so lucky with tickets over the years and I always like to try and go once each year because it’s such an experience. I can’t wait for my next Wimbledon adventure, hopefully in 2020!