No end in sight for Wimbledon queue

Wimbledon queue (Getty Images)
Wimbledon queue (Getty Images)

London - Tennis-lovers camp out overnight for Wimbledon tickets - and the All England Club's boss wants to keep it that way, having slept on the pavement himself to get in.

Chief executive Richard Lewis, 64, said he slept outside the grounds as a teenager in order to see the 1968 men's final.

Queueing is a great British tradition - and the most traditional of Britain's summer sporting occasions is not seeking to end it.

Every day, approximately 500 tickets are available on each of Centre Court, Court One and Court Two for those in the queue.

But thousands more who want a simple ground pass face a lengthy wait - and there are no plans to eliminate the queue by selling such tickets online.

"People seem to love it and I think it's a good example where technology could change things if you wanted to, but you'd think very carefully before you did away with it, because it does seem to be so popular," said Lewis.

"We haven't looked at technology for the queue. I wouldn't consider it, not for the foreseeable future."

"Most people say it's a wonderful experience."

Wimbledon remains one of the very few major British sporting events where visitors can still buy premium tickets on the day.

Since 2008, fans queue on the soft grass in neighbouring Wimbledon Park in southwest London rather than on the hard pavement alongside the All England Club boundary walls.

"I queued here myself overnight. It's almost a rite of passage. I wouldn't do away with it in a hurry," said Lewis.

"I was 13. I queued up on the pavement and saw Rod Laver play Tony Roche in the final.

"My brother and I came along and it was a great experience. It was wonderful - and it's wonderful now to meet Rod Laver and say to him, 'I saw you win that match'!"

In Centre Court's Royal Box on Saturday, Australian great Laver, 80, was presented with a special replica of the men's trophy to mark the 50th anniversary of his fourth and final Wimbledon title.

The tennis-lovers camping in the park come from all over the world.

Lewis went to meet fans camping out on middle Sunday, when Wimbledon has a rest day.

For Monday's play, a Centre Court ticket cost £130, while Court One was 110, Court Two 85 and a regular grounds pass 25.

"I walked around there on Sunday and the atmosphere was amazing. People were really enjoying themselves. It's just one of the great traditions," said Lewis.

"People on Saturday night, because play finished late, they didn't bother to go home, they just camped."

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