Whether you're a legitimate tennis fan or just in it for the Pimm's and oh-so-toned players, Wimbledon Tennis Championships are once again upon us (Monday June 29 – Sunday July 12) and it's time to get excited. If you missed out on tickets in the public ballot, here's our eight-step guide to camping, queueing and buying grounds passes on the day. Or if you're happy to witness all the tournament's action outside SW19, discover where to find the free live screenings across the capital.
How do I get tickets for this year’s Wimbledon?
Getting tickets to the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club does require a lot of forethought. Seats on Centre and Number 1 courts are distributed by ballot the preceding year, although die-hard tennis fans who queue on the day may well get the chance to gain entry. The ticket queue for this year’s Wimbledon officially opens at 8am on Sunday June 28 2015, however hundreds of people will have been camping in line since the previous evening. Around 500 tickets every day are available at the Gate 3 turnstile for Centre Court (except for the last four days; tickets for those days are like gold dust) and court numbers 1 and 2, plus several thousand grounds tickets. If you’re intending to turn up to The Championships after work, the late entry queue opens at 5pm daily. You can often pay a reasonable rate for the seats of spectators who have left the venue early. Do note, tickets can only be purchased by cash.
Tennis fans willing to splash a bit more cash can purhcase unwanted debenture tickets fromwww.wimbledondebentureholders.com. Prices vary depending on demand – Centre Court tickets in the later stages of the competition come at a heafty cost, but tickets for less-sought after seats can be snapped up for competitive prices.
How do I get to the tennis grounds?
The best way to get to the Championships is by shuttle bus from Southfields tube station, which is on the District Line. There are also shuttle buses from Wimbledon station, though it is marginally further from the site. Both stations are walking distance from the site (15-20 minutes), or you could splash out on a taxi. Be prepared to shuffle up and share your taxi during peak times, though – it's faster, cheaper and you may make yourself some picnic buddies for lunchtime.
What should I wear? Is there a dress code?
Only the competitors have a strict dress code (all white kit), spectators typically come in comfy casual wear. There are some posh frocks and blazers to be seen, particularly around the hospitality areas, but if you’re heading to the tournament more for the tennis and less for the strawberries, just be sure to wear layers – the day may begin with blazing sunshine but come the afternoon, it’ll most likely be sleeting. Bear in mind the British summer weather and take clothing suitable for all conditions.
Is it acceptable to heckle during the match?
Swearing, booing and heckling are not the done thing at Wimbledon (not that the players adhere to that), although a little tutting may be heard when one of the players throws a tantrum. It is acceptable however to 'ooh' and 'ahh', as if watching the New Year Eve’s fireworks, and then cheer when the Hawk-Eye replay appears on the screen. Never applaud double faults or unforced errors, even if they are the errors of Andy Murray’s opponent.
What's the etiquette when the ball lands among the spectators?
Spectators should throw the ball back to a ball boy or girl, but never during play. If you'd like to get hold of a ball as a souvenir, you'll have to cough up for a used one from the shop.
What happens if it rains?
In 2009 a retractable roof was installed on Centre Court, enabling play to continue during rain, but if you’re watching on any other court, rain will always disturb play. You can take shelter in the museum and there are a few merchandise shops as well as restaurants and cafés around the site. Other than that, the grounds are quite exposed, so be sure to take an umbrella.
Should I take my chances and queue for day tickets?
Camping out the night before is the best way to raise your chances of getting a court ticket. If you’re planning to head down on a day when Andy Murray is playing, the queue will inevitably be longer so you may need to set up camp even earlier.
Are there places to eat? Can I take a picnic?
Food within the grounds isn’t cheap so taking a picnic is a thrifty way to eat at the tournament, plus you’ll avoid any queues for the restaurants. Only one bag per person is permitted into the grounds and it must measure no more than 40 x 30 x 30cm. No hard-sided picnic hampers, coolboxes or briefcases are allowed, so take a disposable bag, which you can bin once you’ve eaten your lunch.
How do I get tickets for next year?
The majority of tickets are distributed via public ballot. The draw for this year’s Wimbledon closed last December (this is where the aforementioned ‘forethought’ comes in), but the ballot for the 2015 tournament will re-open later this summer – keep your eyes peeled for the exact date here. Holders of successful ballot entries are usually contacted by the following February.
More from our Wimbledon tennis guide
'Not everyone can win'
You might have watched a tennis match about this time last year. Two tennis matches actually – one ending in heart-wrenching failure, the other in national triumph. Both featured Roger Federer and Andy Murray, and both were played out in the genteel cauldron that for two weeks every summer is the centre of the world’s attention: Wimbledon.The pressure to become the first British men’s Wimbledon singles champion since 1936 has broken lesser men and seemed to get the better of Murray when he publicly sobbed after losing the 2012 final. ‘I was very upset,’ he happily admits today, a tall, muscled presence draped over a chintz sofa that appears to shrink beneath him.‘It was a really tough loss for me. I played well, I had chances, I gave everything I had on the day. And it just wasn’t enough.’ So how did he recover so well and reach the Olympic final? ‘Because I’d played a good match, I’d played well. Because,’ he says with finality, ‘I hadn’t let myself down.’Murray’s been at Wimbledon, hitting balls, before meeting Time Out in a Shepperton studio where he is filming a commercial. His shorts have been kicked off into the middle of the floor and his socks are scattered around the dressing- room. He eats strawberries from a punnet, each one disposed of in a single chomp. Between bites he recalls that crazy second match, the riotous Olympic final, where Wimbledon decorum and recent defeat were so spectacularly turned on their heads. ‘It was different to any atmosphere I have played
Meet Wimbledon's hawk, Rufus
Rufus is a Harris Hawk that keeps the courts of The All England Lawn Tennis Club pigeon-free for the tournament
Watch the tennis on the big screen
End up empty handed after the ballot? Enjoy all the action and atmosphere at one of London's big screens
Wimbledos and Wimbledon'ts
It’s not just the players who run the risk of humiliating themselves at Wimbledon. Check out our guide to spectator etiquette
Where to go in the area
Walk • Wimbledon Common
Of Merton's many green spaces, Wimbledon Common (the stamping ground of Elisabeth Beresford's loveable eco-warriors The Wombles) offers 1,140 acres of woodland, including its own windmill and golf club. It has also proved hugely popular with fungi foragers, although recently there has been a clampdown on wild mushroom picking.