Monday, June 30, 2008

Wimbledon – A real reckoner ready.

This reckoner is based with a lot of help from my memory and work put in to attend the Wimbledon / The championships on 28th June 2008 – Saturday.

What is Wimbledon?

There are two answers to this.

Answer 1: Wimbledon (pronounced /wImbaldan/) is a suburb of London, part of the London Borough of Merton and located 7 miles (11.3 km) south west of Charing Cross(another place close to London Waterloo). For most of the past one hundred years, Wimbledon has been internationally known as the home of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

Etymology: The name Wimbledon means "Wynnman's hill", with the final element of the name being the Old English dun (hill). The current spelling appears to have been settled on relatively recently in the early 19th century, the last in a long line of variations. The village is referred to as "Wimbedounyng" in a charter signed by King Edgar the Peaceful in 967 and is shown on J Cary's 1786 map of the London area as "Wimbleton".

Wimbledon was not only famous for Tennis but also for football – Wimbledon football team which won the FA cup against Liverpool in 1988, but with teams like Chelsea and Fulham rapidly developing in close proximity saw this team decline rather rapidly.

Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer - English scientist and astronomer; joint discoverer of helium was one of the famous resident who has resided in Wimbledon.

Accessible by: Wimbledon station train, Wimbledon tube, Wimbledon bus.

Credits and for more information, my memory &

Answer 2: The Championships, Wimbledon (commonly referred to as Wimbledon) began in 1877 and is the oldest tennis championship in the world (four years older than the US Open). Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments.

The tournament is held in the London suburb of Wimbledon, England, at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It is held annually from late June to early July. The tournament is calendared so that it ends on the second Sunday of July and begins on the Monday, 13 days earlier. It is the third Grand Slam tournament played each year.

Surface: It is preceded by the Australian Open, which is played on hard courts, and the French Open (Roland Garros), which is played on clay courts. It is followed by the U.S. Open, which is played on hard courts.

The Championships were first played under the control of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in 1877 at a ground near Worple Road, Wimbledon; the only event held was Gentlemen's Singles. In 1884, the All England Club added Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles. Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles were added in 1913. Until 1922, the reigning champion had to play only in the final, against whoever had won through to challenge him. Championships moved to their present location, at a ground near Church Road, in 1922. Britons are very proud of the tournament, though it is a source of national anguish and humour – no British man has won the singles event at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, and no British woman since Virginia Wade in 1977. The Championship was first televised in 1937.

The first Sunday is always considered to be a rest day, but if rain has disturbed any of the previous day’s matches, then on each of these occasions, Wimbledon has staged a "People's Sunday", with unreserved seating and readily available, inexpensive tickets, allowing those with more limited means to sit on the show courts. Additionally, if the tournament is not completed by the end of the second Sunday, all remaining matches are postponed until "People's Monday".

Wimbledon historian Richard Milward recounts how King George V opened the new courts. "He gave three blows on a gong, the tarpaulins were removed, the first match started - and the rain came down..." The club's old grounds continue to be used as the sports ground for Wimbledon High School.

Credits and for more information, my memory &,_Wimbledon

How many courts are available and what are the premier courts?

There is a center court, then courts 1-19. Center court, Court No 1 and Court No 2 are the premier courts.

What are the various ticket categories?

There are 4 varieties of tickets,

a) Center court – The most sought after ticket which allows entry and seating into/in the center court and then unreserved standing in the Court 2 and free access to Court 3-19. This ticket doesn’t allow you in Court No 1.

b) Court No 1 - The second most sought after ticket which allows entry and seating into/in the Court 1 and then unreserved standing in the Court 2 and free access to Court 3-19. This ticket doesn’t allow you in Center Court.

c) Court No 2 - The third most sought after ticket which allows entry and seating into/in the Court 2 and also unreserved standing in the Court 2 and free access to Court 3-19. This ticket doesn’t allow you in Center Court and Court No 1.

d) Ground passes – The only tickets which are obtainable by many people visiting the Wimbledon. It allows entry in the unreserved standing in the Court 2 and free access to Court 3-19. This ticket also allows you access to the Henman’s Hill.

How to buy tickets?

Many would think…What a stupid question; buy it like you would buy any other sporting ticket from specified centers, from online websites. THAT’S RIGHT AND WRONG! There are some different set of ticket buying rules that apply to the Wimbledon.

1) Debenture Tickets: These are the only Wimbledon tickets that can be transferred legally; all other tickets must be used by the original applicant. These are in the close range of 250 – 3000 GBP which is 20000 – 2, 40,000 INR. These can be bought from many online stores and other places.

2) Partners / Affiliated Organisations / Agents Tickets: There are certain quotas of tickets which are given to affiliated organizations to distribute to their members and the agents can sell it to their corporate clients or various other uses.

3) AELTC Public Ballot Tickets: Every household can apply for the draw of tickets of the premier courts. This only ensures a chance to be part of the draw to get few tickets from the draw. But members can’t decide day, time and place as this process is computerized. The application for next year’s ballot would be given out in the month of August.

4) Queue Tickets: The most interesting ticket ever possible. It gives every trier a fair chance to get a premier court ticket or a chance to get a ground pass. Will explain this in detail ahead.

5) Resale Tickets: Godsend option for the center court, premier court lovers. Will explain this in detail ahead.

If some decides to become generous they can also hand over their premier court tickets to you and leave.

Queue Tickets: For getting a chance to get the premier court tickets or to get the ground pass, one has to queue up. The tickets counters open at 10:30 every morning. If you really want a chance of the premier court tickets you will have to start queuing up on the previous day around 6:00 in the evening. This was achieved by camping on the pavements etc. From this year they have been allowed access to camp in the Wimbledon Park. So you can bring your own camp, sleeping bags etc and camp in the night, in the morning at 6:00 the stewards will wake you up and get you to remove your cars and remove the tents. I have heard that if you are in the top 300 – 500 you will get a fair chance to get the premier court tickets. Then on the day of the event, from 3 – 4 AM, people start coming to queue in the car park 10 / Wimbledon park, they also join the main queue. I left home by 6:00 in the morning and was there in the queue by 7:00 only to be dazzled by the number of snakelike queues, and immediately knew I was in for a worse than a roller coaster ride before I buy the tickets. The only beauty is it’s so well organized that it’s not a painful experience rather it lets you soak yourself in the Wimbledon tradition. As I sleep for an hour and by 8:30 the queue cards were given. Queue cards are a way by which they make sure you don’t reserve place/space for anyone else rolling in sleepy pleasures back home. My number was 4844 for all my best efforts of getting to the ground early. Anyways I had read somewhere that up to 6000 there is a very good chance of getting the ground passes. After getting a bit bored again I clicked a few pictures in the Wimbledon lake close by and joined the queue fast, because one should not be missing from the queue for a long time though no one bothers once given with a queue card. Then the slow moving of the queue bought joy to many once to realize quite soon that they were just being given some stretches and activity by the Stewards there, we moved from xx longitude to xy longitude. Another small snooze from moi and I joined some locals who were playing ball catches. Must bring to these queues are water, snacks, playing cards, books, paper to sleep/read, games etc.

Then by 11 we were finally in the security check area and then presto you are at the gates of the Wimbledon – ticket area, Sir one ground pass please…thank you…wow the Wimbledon arena. Magnificient!

The cost varies on each day.

People had started queuing for Monday’s match tickets on Saturday morning a cool 48 hours before.

Queue pictures

Queue Card with Mahesh Bhupathi's Signature

Ground pass

TODO: There is a central board across the entrance where the entire days draw is listed, you must make take a pen and note down which all matches you would like to watch, and ideally you can watch 4 short matches or 3 matches which are well fought out.

My match list along with the scores is as follows,

1) Gentlemen's Singles - 3rd Round – Court 3

Rainer Schuettler (GER) def Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

6-2 6-3 6-4

2) Ladies' Doubles - 2nd Round – Court 4

Bethanie Mattek (USA)/Sania Mirza (IND) def Maria Kirilenko (RUS)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA)

6-3 6-4

3) Gentlemen's Singles - 3rd Round – Court 2

Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) def Radek Stepanek (CZE)

7-5 6-7(5) 6-4 6-7(4) 6-3

4) Ladies' Doubles - 2nd Round – Court 3

Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB)/Darya Kustova (BLR) def Anne Keothavong (GBR)/Melanie South (GBR)

6-4 4-6 7-5

5) Gentlemen's Singles - 3rd Round – Court 11.

Marin Cilic (CRO) def Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)

6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 7-6(6)

6) Mixed Doubles - 2nd Round – Court 19

Igor Andreev (RUS)/Maria Kirilenko (RUS) def Mahesh Bhupathi (IND)/Sania Mirza (IND)

7-6(4) 6-3

7) Gentlemen's Singles - 3rd Round – Center Court

Rafael Nadal (ESP) def Nicolas Kiefer (GER)

7-6(3) 6-2 6-3

It was a mixed day for India with Sania winning the ladies doubles, but losing in the mixed doubles with Bhupathi, and Paes losing in the mixed doubles too.

Resale Tickets: Now many of you reading this with a little bit of attention would notice that my list of matches also holds a star match of the center court, how did I with a ground pass get to watch this match. Yes by buying a resale ticket. When premier court ticket holders decide they have had enough and would like to get back home have an option of turning in the tickets at the counter which are processed again and resold again as resale tickets. These are priced at 5 GBP. What a steal, a ticket which could have cost 3000 GBP coming to you at 5 WoW. As we were watching Bhupathi and Sania lose we decided we will try for these tickets and we did get some real fast. I got one of the seats in the A row accessible by the P entrance, that’s the first row of the court, pretty close to Nadal and Kiefer, luck played a major role. Else you would get some very good seats too.

The best part of this concept is that the monetary funds go towards charitable causes. Whoa bravo effort.

Center Court ticket


1) Watching Rainer Schuettler GER who had won over James Blake in the second round.

2) Watching Sania Mirza win the ladies doubles match.

3) Watching R Stepanek and M Youzhny battle it out.

4) Watching Cilic score some cracking forehands.

5) Watching Anne Keothavong play well.

6) Watching B Bryan battle it out.

7) Getting an autograph from Mahesh Bhupathi.

8) Seeing Tim Henman.

9) Seeing Jelena Jankovic.

10) Seeing R Bopanna.

11) Seeing Alan Wilkins

12) Watching Nadal steam maul Kiefer badly. Kiefer played superbly though. Nadal is raising his game to new standards.

13) Watching the live challenges on center court, the Mexican wave etc.

14) Hearing Sania’s mom egg her on.

Must do’s and Tips:

1) Be early – worth the wait for at least few times.

2) Carry snacks for the queue.

3) By 5:00 in the evening be on the continuous watch out for the resale tickets.

4) Visit some of the premier courts.

5) Visit the Graveyard of courts - Court No 2, which has been dubbed the "Graveyard of Champions" due to its reputation as the court on which many seeded players have been eliminated during the early rounds. Famous players who have lost on the Graveyard during early round play include Joe Creedon, Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams.

6) Visit Henman hill - at the northern end of the grounds there is a giant television screen on which important matches are broadcast. Fans watch from an area of grass officially known as the Aorangi Terrace, but more commonly called Henman Hill. The "hill" takes its name from local favorites Tim Henman, who many fans once hoped would become the first British man to win the tournament since Fred Perry did so in 1936. Now they are watching on it for Andy Murray.

7) Eat Strawberry and Cream for the spectators, strawberries and cream is the traditional snack at Wimbledon. Approximately 28,123 kilograms (62,000 pounds) of strawberries and 7,000 litres (1,540 gallons) of cream are sold each year during the Championships. Strawberries are the only fruit which have it's seeds on the outside.

8) Another secret tip is if you want to watch any match in court 2 grab the last row seat of Court 3 as you can turn back and stand and watch the Court 2 proceedings with a clear view.

9) Similarly for court 19, you can view it from court 18 left most side.

10) You can also visit the Wimbledon shop or the Museum if you wish.

11) Take your camera; remember flash photography is not allowed.

12) Take the Wimbledon shuttle from the tube or station as it’s a time saver and helps in getting ahead by at least 500 positions in the queue. Try not walking because in most likeliness you would be standing for the major share of the day.

13) Take cash as cards are not accepted at the ticket counter.

14) Take a hat, cap, shades, sun screen and an umbrella would be quite helpful.

The quotation that meets each player while entering in Centre Court?
The quotation above the players’ entrance to Centre Court:
If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same
is an extract from If by Rudyard Kipling.

How do the electronic referees work?
The electronic referees at Wimbledon (called 'Cyclops') monitor the service line deciding if serves are in or out. The system resembles a burglar alarm, with beams of infrared light directed just beyond the line. When the ball interrupts the beam — as it must if the serve is long by a small margin — an alarm goes off. This produces an audible 'beep'. The electronic eye derives its name from the mythological Greek race of one-eyed giants and was invented by Bill Carlton of Malta. It was first introduced to Wimbledon in 1980 and is now used in many other major tennis tournaments around the world.
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What is Hawk-Eye?
Hawk-Eye is a multi-camera system which electronically tracks the flight of a moving ball and has become part of the umpiring process on Centre Court and No.1 Court at Wimbledon. The 2007 tournament was the first time this technology was used at Wimbledon by players to challenge an umpire's decision.
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Picture Gallery

Rainer Schuettler

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez

Sania Mirza

Tim Henman

Moi in front of Court No 1

Me with Bhupathi

Anne Keothavong

Mikhail Youzhny

Radek Stepanek

Henman Hill

Mirza and Bhupathi

Alan Wilkins

R Nadal

N Kiefer

Me gracing the center court :)

Nadal at his aggressive best

Victory is sweet - Nadal

I have soaked myself in this great experience and hope this article helps you to get this experience in an easy manner. Contact me if any further details are needed.



kathleen said...

I really enjoyed your article. Could you please tell me specifically how you got the resale tickets for Centre Court after you gained the ground passes? where did you go, how long did you have to wait, what did you have to miss to get them, etc.? thanks.

m I m said...

Thanks for reading and the compliments...

Once you are in the grounds of wimbledon - the resale counter is close to Henman Hill's. Please check if this year also it is in the same location. Wait till the center court / 1st and 2nd court matches start and then rush to the resale counter you might have to wait for 5 - 10 minutes or even more but you should get a good ticket pretty soon.