A guide to visiting Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London in 2024: Everything you need to know for your first trip to Wimbledon, from how to get tickets to what to wear and take with you.
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Wimbledon is as much a British summer tradition as Pimms and strawberries and cream – both of which are in ample supply – as London turns tennis mad for two weeks each year for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
The championships began in 1877 and have become one of the world’s most famous tennis tournaments. They’re one of four Grand Slam competitions, alongside the Australian Open, Roland Garros and US Open, and the only one of the four played on grass courts.
From the queue to the Royal Box, Wimbledon’s traditions are as much a part of the experience as the actual tennis. So whether you’re a Brit like me who’s grown up watching it on TV every summer (and still can’t believe we finally got our long-awaited British winner) or an overseas visitor wanting to experience a uniquely British tradition, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Wimbledon Tennis Championships this summer.
When do the 2024 Wimbledon Tennis Championships take place?
This year’s Wimbledon takes place from Monday 1 July–Sunday 14 July 2024. 675 tennis matches are played on 19 courts over the two weeks of the Championships. The main events are the men’s and women’s singles but there are also men’s, women’s and mixed doubles as well as junior events (boys’ and girls’ singles and doubles).
The grounds open from 10am each day, and matches start on the outside courts at 11am, at 1pm on No 1 Court and at 1.30pm on Centre Court (or 2pm during finals weekend).
How do you get tickets for Wimbledon?
There are a few different ways to get tickets for the Wimbledon Championships, but the main way is through the ballot. There’s been a public ballot for the tournament since 1924, and you can apply for a ticket in a lottery which is drawn at random. It’s very oversubscribed though so you might not get lucky, and you need to start applying early.
Until recently the ballot was done through paper forms, but it’s now run electronically – and you need to plan well in advance. The ballot opens in September and you need to apply using the myWIMBLEDON system by November. If you’re successful, you’ll start to hear back from mid-February, and have a certain number of days to pay for your tickets.
Tickets range from £50–£275 depending on the day (the second week is more expensive) and which court you’re on (and where you’re sitting for Centre/No 1 Court as the back rows are cheaper). You don’t get any choice on what day or court you’re allocated, and tickets are non-transferable so if you don’t want them they’re put back into the next ballot.
Ballots for returned tickets continue right on up until the tournament starts and tickets are issued electronically via the myWIMBLEDON mobile app.
What if I don’t manage to get a ticket in the Wimbledon ballot?
If you don’t get lucky in the ballot, the other ticket options are debentures, corporate hospitality and the queue – or you can watch the qualifying sessions.
At the pricey end of the spectrum are debenture seats. Debentures are five-year season passes to Wimbledon where you get the best seats on Centre Court and No 1 Court for each day of the Championships as well as access to exclusive lounges and restaurants.
Debenture owners can sell off any unwanted tickets on the Wimbledon Debenture Holders website if they can’t make certain days. They’re the only freely resaleable tickets for the tournament so are in high demand. You’re looking at around £1000 plus per ticket for Court No 1 going up to £6000 for a ticket to the finals on Centre Court.
Otherwise there’s the legendary Wimbledon queue. Five hundred tickets for Centre Court (except in the last four days), No 1 and 2 Courts are sold off on the day of play.
But if you want one you’ll have to get there the night before and camp in the designated area of Wimbledon Park (only two-man tents are allowed and you can store your camping gear in left luggage in the park for £5 – maximum bag size 60cm x 45cm x 25cm).
You can only get one ticket per person, so if you’re going with friends you all need to queue up, but there’s a great atmosphere. And this is a queue with its own etiquette, where you get given a ‘queue card’ to mark your place if you need to nip out, with toilets, food and drink outlets, and water refill stations all available in Wimbledon Park.
If you don’t fancy camping, a few thousand Grounds Passes are available on the day (arrive early before 9am). These cost £20–£30 and let you watch matches on the unreserved courts 3–18 and the big matches on screen from Henman Hill (or Murray Mound).
Grounds Pass holders can also upgrade their tickets for access to the show courts after 3pm by buying a resale ticket, where people who’ve left for the day let their tickets be sold on for charity. Tickets cost cost £15 per person for Centre Court or £10 for Courts 1 and 2.
If you’re not able to get tickets for the actual championships, you can see some of the players in action at the qualifying competition, where unseeded players must get through three rounds to earn their place in the main men’s and women’s singles.
It takes place at the Wimbledon Qualifying and Community Sports Centre (Bank Lane, Roehampton SW15 5JQ – nearest train station is in Barnes) over four days towards the end of June (Monday 24–Thursday 27 June in 2024). Tickets cost £15 per person and can be booked online from 1 June, with proceeds going to the Wimbledon charity foundation.
How do you get to Wimbledon?
The Wimbledon Tennis Championships take place at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (London SW19 5AE). The roads get clogged up and parking is at a premium, so the best way to get there is by public transport, but be prepared for queues.
The closest Tube station is Southfields, which is an easy 15-minute walk away straight down Wimbledon Park Road. Or Wimbledon Tube/train station is slightly further away, but there’s a shuttle bus available to the grounds (£3.80 single or £5.90 return).
What should I wear to Wimbledon – and take with me?
Unlike the players – whose white outfits are strictly enforced – there isn’t a dress code if you’re visiting Wimbledon, unless you’re in one of the hospitality or members’ areas. Think smart casual though, especially if you have tickets to Centre Court and No 1 Court.
The site is fairly big so you’ll be doing plenty of walking, so wear comfortable shoes. Also as this is the UK, you never know what the weather will do, so pack clothing for all seasons – it’s a good idea to bring a jumper, umbrella, raincoat and sunglasses with you.
If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day, there’s limited shade on most courts (other than under the roof overhang on Centre/No 1 Courts) so bring a hat and sunscreen.
There are water refill points around the site as well as a decent array of other services like ATMs and a pharmacy. You can’t take bags bigger than 40cm x 30cm x 30cm into the grounds, but you can leave bigger items at left luggage (which costs £1/£5).
And what if it rains?
This is England in the summer, so chances are there’ll be rain at some point during the Championships. But the days when everything ground to a halt when it rained and we had to rely on Cliff Richard to keep us entertained us are long gone.
If you have tickets for Centre Court or No 1 Court, both have a retractable roof which means play can carry on if it rains. It takes about 10 minutes to close the roof and another 20 to get the air conditioning conditions right so there is a short delay.
But on the other courts rain still stops play. You can hide out in one of the cafés, or there’s the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum on site which is the world’s largest tennis museum and tells the story of the sport from 1555 to today and is free for ticket-holders.
Is there anything to eat other than strawberries and cream?
Pimms and strawberries and cream are an integral part of the Wimbledon experience – 200,000 punnets of strawberries are served during the Championships. But they’re not cheap, with a punnet of 10 strawberries £2.50 and glass of Pimms £8.50.
There are lots of other eating options though, ranging from takeaway cafés to sit-down restaurants and Champagne bars. Centre Court and No 1 Court have a few options each and there are also plenty of places to eat and drink around the grounds.
If you’re on a budget (or are on a special diet, as gluten- and dairy-free options are limited), you can bring in your own supplies. There’s a handy M&S Foodhall opposite Southfields Tube station if you don’t want to carry a picnic too far. You can bring cool bags in (within the size limit) but not hard-sided coolboxes or vacuum flasks over 500ml.
Visitors can also bring alcohol in with them – up to a bottle of wine or two cans of beer/premixed aperitifs per person. You do have to drink them in designated areas though.
Where should I stay if I’m visiting Wimbledon?
Staying in southwest London makes things easiest – and if you’re within walking distance then even better as you can avoid the crush on the Tube. Hotels in Wimbledon* get booked up really early, so you might want to look at Wandsworth, Putney or Earlsfield too, or it’s easy to reach Wimbledon from anywhere in central London on the District Line.
Many local residents rent out their houses during Wimbledon. We rented a one-bedroom apartment 25 minutes’ walk from the grounds for £144 a night for two people. Check out VRBO* and AirBnB for listings, but again nearby places get booked up early.