Wimbledon Fortnight - Lawn Tennis's Biggest Grand Slam Tournament

Andy Murray, Wimbledon 2013
Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2013. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Wimbledon is the top grass court tennis tournament and probably the most famous tennis event in the world. Although the tournament - and the popularity of the game originated in Britain, the chance of a British player winning at Wimbledon these days is rare. And when it happens - as with Andy Murray's Championship singles wins in 2013 and 2016 - they become national heroes.

These are the basic facts:

  • What: The top competitive event in grass court tennis. All the world's top ranked tennis players compete.
  • When: From the end of June and through the first week in July. The dates change, depending upon when the weekends fall but its nickname - Wimbledon Fortnight - should give you an idea. In 2020, the tournament takes place from June 29 to July 12.
  • Where: The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Church Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5AE
  • Telephone: + 44 (0)20 8971 2473
  • Admission: On-the-day tickets for center court range from 70 pounds for early matches to 240 pounds for the men's final. Queueing tickets for admission to the grounds cost from 8 to 25 pounds depending on the day and time of day. No Center Court tickets are sold at the turnstiles during the last 4 days of play. People leaving the show courts before the end of play on any given day are encouraged to return their tickets to a kiosk near the entrance for resale. These are then sold, after 3 p.m., on a first come first basis. The price, in 2020, is 15 pounds for Centre Court and 10 pounds for Courts 1 and 2. Seeing Wimbledon is less about the price of the tickets and more about either qualifying in the public ticket ballot to buy one or getting into the daily queue early enough to score one of the tickets saved for the public. Find out more about how to get a ticket for Wimbledon before making the journey to the All England Club.
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My first summer in England began the week that two of America's top men's tennis players were facing off against each other in a 4th of July Wimbledon Men's Final. I wasn't really a tennis fan back then but it was impossible not to be caught up in the intense interest that took over London. It was a hot day, so people had their windows open. My city neighborhood seemed empty and through all those open windows, the regular, televised impact of tennis balls hitting tennis rackets, followed by polite applause, was all the only sound in the streets.

Wimbledon is the crowning championship for the world's top lawn tennis players and fans. In England, during Wimbledon fortnight, it is the only sport that anyone talks about. The little Wimbledon cars that chauffer the players around town - usually driven by young women LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) members who can't believe their luck - are everywhere.

Unlike some of England's other major social sports events, the majority of Wimbledon tickets are reserved for the public who compete in the Wimbledon Ticket Ballot for the right to purchase a pair of seats.

A limited number of tickets for the Center Courts and Courts 1 and 2 are reserved for sale to the public on all but the last four match days. Another 6,000 Ground Admission tickets are available every day. And all you have to do to get one of these is get their early and, rain or shine, stand in the queue. These days, they've turned camping out for an early place in the ticket queue a more civilized affair - with a wake-up call, toilet and washing up facilities and even tea. 

Read more about how to get last-minute tickets and camping out for Wimbledon.

Traditions at Wimbledon

As the world's oldest lawn tennis tournament (Wimbledon was founded in 1877), the event is bound on all sides by traditions - from what the players and spectators wear to the way they're expected to behave inside the tennis club and what they eat and drink.

If someone gives you a free hat or tee shirt on your way into Wimbledon, better tuck it away in your bag. If that kind of kamikaze advertising is on show, you'll be politely asked to hand it in. If you don't you may not be admitted.

To make sure you get it right, check out some Wimbledon Dos and Don'ts.

And, whatever you do while you're on the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, don't dis Andy Murray.

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