Wimbledon, the world's greatest Grand Slam tennis tournament, kicks off on July 5 in 2018. Anyone can go but getting a ticket is down to perseverance and the luck of the draw. You have to be lucky and you usually have to plan ahead.
If you're a tennis fan and you are going to be in England at the end of June or the beginning of July (in 2019), you still have a chance to apply for tickets the lawn tennis championships at Wimbledon. If it's the 2018 championships you're after, you may not be too late. There are still four ways to go after tickets. Here's how:
1. The Wimbledon Ballot
The only people who can count on Wimbledon tickets with no trouble at all are the members of the All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), who run the tournament.There are only a few hundred of them, and if you are reading this, it's a good guess that you're not one of them. Almost everyone else has to take a chance in a draw following a public ballot.
Since 1924, the AELTC has sold the majority of tickets for the show courts - Centre Court and Courts 1 and 2 - in advance. Applications for the ballot for the following June and July are obtained from the club in August and must be postmarked by no later than mid December. (So if you are reading this after December, you're too late for the current year.)There is a separate wheelchair ballot for show court spaces suitable for wheelchairs.
The ballot is always oversubscribed. Entering the ballot doesn't entitle you to a ticket but instead you get a place in a draw. Successful applicants are chosen at random by a computer and notified in in the February before the tournament. If you manage to win a seat, you must accept the day and court assigned to you in the draw. Tickets can't be transferred or sold and become invalid if they are.
To Enter the Public Ballot for Wimbledon 2019
From about September 1, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) accepts applications for the public ballot from UK applicants. To obtain an application, send in a stamped, self-addressed, DL size (4 1/4" by 8 5/8") envelope to AELTC, P.O. BOX 98, SW19 5AE before mid December - the exact dates are posted on the AELTC website about a month after the end of the current year's tournament. Applications postmarked after the specified date are not processed. And callers to the office after that date are not given applications.
Overseas applications are taken online. Information about how to apply for the public ballot for Wimbledon tickets from overseas is available on the AELTC website, usually from November 1.
If you are successful in the ballot, you pay for your assigned tickets online. In 2018, the price of Center Court tickets ranged from £60 for opening day to £210 for the finals.
And, by the way, the organizers of the tournament are super strict about applications so be very careful when filling out yours. You application will be void if you ask for more than one form, if you cross out or make amendments on your form or write any special requests and instructions on it. And, forget about applying for tickets to give as a present or to sell. If you don't use the tickets you apply for yourself, they become void.
But don't be discouraged; there are a few other ways to get tickets to Wimbledon.
2. Queue to Buy Tickets on the Day
If you missed the ballot for this year or you were not successful in the draw, don't despair. Anyone willing to get up early and stand in line, rain or shine, can buy tickets on the day of the matches by joining the queue. This usually involves camping out overnight, but the atmosphere in the queue is friendly and many overseas visitors enjoy the opportunity of meeting and talking tennis with other fans while waiting to get into the grounds.
Standing in line - on the day - is one of the great traditions of the tournament. Unlike many other major sports events, the organizers of Wimbledon reserve a good proportion of tickets for members of the public to buy at the gates. But you have to be patient and you have to really want those tickets. In recent years, the whole queuing process has become much more civilized, with organized camping, a wake up call and "left luggage" facilities for your camping gear.
Every day, except the last four days, 500 tickets for each of the Center and No.1, No.2 and No.3 courts are reserved for sale to the public at the turnstiles. They cost from £60 to £210 for center court, £30 to £105 for No.1 - 3 courts depending on the day.
Another 6,000 Grounds Admission tickets are sold every day. The Grounds Admission ticket is good for the No. 2 court standing enclosure as well as unreserved seating and standing on Courts 3 to 19. Tickets cost between £8 and £25, depending on the time and day.
Each person queuing can only buy one ticket so if you've come with a partner or with family, all of you have to be in the queue. Find out more about camping and queuing for tickets here. And tickets on the day are sold for cash only - so better visit the nearest cash machine if you are aiming for one of the pricey tickets for the show courts.
3. Hospitality Packages
Two tour operators are authorized to sell hospitality packages that, in addition to tickets, usually include food and drink, and may also include accommodations and travel arrangements. These packages start at about £400 per person. Visitors from the the UK, Europe and the Americas can book a package through Keith Prowse, starting at £400 per person and climbing to more than £5,000 for posh seats at the final. In 2018, their center court suites included stylish food and drink, afternoon tea and the services of a private limo throughout the day.
Tickets cost about £1,600 per person for the opening matches to nearly £5,000 per person for the men's finals. But if that's a bit too rich for your budget, there are packages starting at £400 for reserved, Number 1 Court tickets and a meal designed by Albert Roux in an informal, private restaurant.
Those from the Asia and Australasia can book a package through Pure Wimbledon by Sportsworld, ranging in 2018 from about £400 for day one, Number 2 Court tickets (with bed and breakfast accommodation in nearby hotels based on two sharing) to more than £5,700 per person for Centre Court finals tickets with accommodations.
4. Daily Ticket Resales
If you are already in the Wimbledon grounds ( having succeeded in getting one of the 6,000 grounds admission tickets sold every day), you may be able to grab courtside seats at the Ticket Resale Kiosk. Ticket holders leaving the grounds before the close of play are encouraged to put their unwanted tickets in special boxes to make them available for resale. The resale proceeds go to tennis related charities.