No matter how long, Wimbledon’s quintessential queues are something to enjoy, not endure, as Associated Press reports

 

People queue for admission to the Wimbledon championships at the All England Club in south London on July 3. The long wait for tickets has become part of the fabric of the tournament, with many people relishing the process and the culture and tradition attached to it. Reuters

For Viv Kean, and thousands of tennis fans like her, the Wimbledon experience always starts in a tent.

In a small park across from the tournament grounds, they gather to camp out for days. The reward is being woken up at 5 am by stewards, then spending hours standing patiently in line to get herded into the All England Club.

And hopefully, after all that waiting, a ticket to Centre Court.

That’s life in “The Queue,” a decades-old Wimbledon tradition that has grown to become its own phenomenon, as much a part of the tournament as strawberries and cream.

Kean, a 69-year-old from northwest London, wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“I’ve been coming every year since 1983, except one,” Kean said, sitting in a camping chair outside her tent. “I spent my 50th birthday and my 60th birthday out here. It’s almost more about the queue than about the tennis these days.”

Kean was among more than 2,000 people who showed up to Wimbledon Park last Friday night hoping to be there early enough to get tickets to one of the top courts. Not for Saturday’s third-round matches – but Monday’s fourth round.

For some of them, even that wasn’t early enough. Only about 500 tickets are made available most days for each of Centre Court, No 1 Court and No 2 Court. Several thousand passes for the smaller courts are also available each day.

Alex Leonidis and Ryan Kirkman, two 23-year-olds from London, were around 250th in line – meaning they were assured of succeeding in their goal of seeing Roger Federer on Centre Court.

“Last year we camped out one night and got tickets to No. 1 Court. But we’re willing to push it to three for Federer,” Leonidis said.

“He’s a must for us,” Kirkman added. “These days you never know when he might retire. It could be our last chance.”

The queuing tradition at Wimbledon dates back to at least the 1920s. Even Richard Lewis, who is now the chief executive of the All England Club, remembers spending a night on the street as a teenager in the 1960s.

“I was 13 at the time. Queued up on the pavement,” Lewis said. “Saw Rod Laver play Tony Roche in the final.”