Wimbledon to showcase top tennis - and the art of waiting

Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:21am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Tennis fans will descend on Wimbledon from Sunday to join Britain's line of the year in which thousands wait patiently to see their sporting idols during the two week championship.

Thousands will camp out overnight or arrive at dawn each day to join the line, known as The Queue, which has become as much a tradition at the world's oldest tennis tournament that dates back to 1877 as strawberries and cream - and rain.

For Wimbledon is one of the few major British sporting events where people can still buy premium tickets on the day, if they are prepared to spend up to 24 hours in a line.

But newcomers beware because The Queue has transformed over the years to epitomize the British obsession for orderly lines, with strict rules ensuring fairness and civility and a list of websites and Twitter accounts giving tips on how to queue.

"QUEUE JUMPING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED," shouts a message on the Wimbledon website.

As people join the line they are handed a card that is dated and numbered and has to be given in at the ticket office where several thousand tickets are sold daily at 20 pounds ($31) each for unreserved seating and standing room on courts 3-19.

Wristbands are issued only to those at the front of the line, who then pay from 45 pounds ($70) for one of the 1,500 tickets available each day for the top three courts - Centre, One, and Two.

The rules, set by Wimbledon's organizers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), state no saving places for others, no reserving spots with equipment then nipping off somewhere more comfortable, and no loud music in the line.   Continued...

Andy Murray of Britain runs to hit a return to Roger Federer of Switzerland in their men's singles final tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London July 8, 2012. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez