Summer in the UK: A Day at Wimbledon
This summer, after months of planning, and more than a couple of years of hoping we’d get across the pond sooner than later, we were finally off on a 2-week family trip to England!
Day 3: Wimbledon
Attending Wimbledon was Mr. M’s “MUST DO” activity for our trip. That meant that we would do whatever it took to attend the green grass tennis paradise, and in this case it just meant a little extra effort and some research before we got to the UK. But in the end… IT WAS THE BEST SPORTING EVENT I HAVE EVER ATTENDED!
We had tried to secure tickets through the International ticket lottery but we were not successful. If one has the means, you can secure debenture tickets to Centre Court and Court 1 for insanely high prices (think thousands of pounds per ticket). Or… you can join the masses and participate in the greatest sporting event idea ever: “The Queue.”
Queuing for Wimbledon
The first thing to know about queuing for Wimbledon is that you must be up at dawn. And in London, that means at 4:50 am in July.
We chose to ride the District Line on the Tube to Southfields station (aka. one stop before the Wimbledon station). If it’s a busy London weekday, it may feel like you’re the only one headed anywhere other than a stuffy office for the day, but once we got near the station the whole train was filled with Queue-goers and we knew we were doing the right thing.
Once we departed the station (following the masses), there were all sorts of volunteers helping us cross the road, providing Queue pamphlets and showing us the way. There was no question about where we were headed, and within 10 minutes we would ourselves in a field next to a purple flag with a giant “Q” printed on it.
We arrived at the end of the Queue at 6:35am and were rewarded with #4930. Yup… the field was filled with 5k other crazy people and it was barely morning!
The Queue is filled with everyone in the world… literally. There are the obsessive Federer fans from China who pitch tents and live on the grounds for two weeks, posh country club tennis fans from Beverly Hills, BBC personalities interviewing folks, London teens with an Instagram-perfect picnic spread at 7am, and random masses of everyone else. We brought giant water bottles and snacks in our backpacks and brought Miss L her Kindle Fire to pass the time. And while we waited, moved, waited, moved again, and waited some more… it really wasn’t that bad of a time thanks to all the people watching.
Around 11:30am, we started moving out of the field and toward the official grounds. There were free product samples, interview booths with celebrities, and lots of entertainment before we went to security and finally approached the booths to purchase our tickets.
We expected just to get Grounds Passes for the day, but as we approached we asked if there were any Court tickets left… and one booth had 8 Court 2 tickets left! They were all single tickets and not next to each other, so people had passed on paying the premium for the tickets. But we grabbed them with a frenzied rush for £42 and a giant smile on our face! Instead of having to fight for seats on an open court, this meant we had reserved seats for 4 matches for the day!
Which meant it was incredibly easy to grab our fill of Strawberries and Cream, cold refreshing drinks whenever we needed, and quite a bit of retail therapy as well!
We also wandered away from our seats a few times to catch matches on the other open courts, and just count the petunias as well. The green you see watching Wimbledon on TV is almost eclipsed completely by PURPLE on the grounds… purple and green everywhere!
It may seem improbable after such an early start to the day, but stayed at Wimbledon with the final crowds until 8:45pm. Because just as the sun comes up early, it stays out incredibly late as well. We somehow managed to wander the wrong way to the downtown of Wimbledon, get on a train and make it back to our hotel, but all of that was a deep blur.
In the end, our trip to Wimbledon became this magically timeless day unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in sports. It was incredibly hot, sweaty, fancy and fun, and I can’t believe it was all available to the masses of people in “The Queue.”