Players in pristine white, ball boys in purple and green, freshly cut grass, strawberries and cream and uppity sunburnt Brits. Ah … the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
One of the world’s four annual Grand Slam tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is held in a southwest suburb of London over two weeks every summer. What began in 1877 is the oldest running—and some say most prestigious—of the tournaments. With this year’s overall prize money totaling a record of $40.9 million, Wimbledon will again offer the highest money prize ever in professional tennis. So, yeah, we’d say it’s pretty prestigious.
This year, from June 29 through July 12, over 500,000 fans will unite to watch players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray and Roger Federer hit over 50,000 balls at The All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Whether you are a tennis junkie or a British culture fanatic, attending Wimbledon is a bucket list item. When you finally get the chance to go, don’t mess it up. Just like the perfect swing, there is a precise art to getting the best out of Wimbledon, from where to stay to where to sit.
For a game, set, match Wimbledon experience, use our guide to the tournament.
When to Go
If all you care about is seeing lots and lots of tennis, go during the first week of the tournament, as you will see more players and matches during this time. If you want to see the best of the best, wait until the second week or the finals to watch the top players go head to head.
Play begins at 1 p.m. on Centre Court on days 1-11, and at 2 p.m. on the final Saturday and Sunday. On No.1 Court, play begins at 1 p.m. every day.
The Grounds are open from 10:30 a.m. daily until one hour after the close of play or 11 p.m., whichever comes first. Play is scheduled to begin on outer courts between 11 and 11:30 a.m.
Photo via Getty by Matthew Stockman
If you are really determined, you would have applied for the ballot in November in the hopes of getting picked from the ticket lottery for this year’s tournament. This is one of the cheapest ways to get tickets. However, this is also the hardest way to get tickets.
If you missed the ballot boat, you can check Ticketmaster the day before you want to attend, as a small amount of Centre Court and No.3 Court tickets are sold online the day before play.
If that doesn’t work, there’s the famous queue. Park yourself at the gate-three turnstiles with plenty of time before the turnstiles open at 9:30 a.m. (some people camp overnight) and join the daily queue. Once you reach the turnstiles you can purchase a ticket for that day’s matches (one per person). For more information on queuing, read Wimbledon’s handy guide.
If you’re looking for an easy route, you can throw a lot of money at ticket agents like Get Me In for Centre Court seats around a thousand bucks.
However, if you are going to spend the money, you might as well put it toward a package. The Wimbledon Experience specializes in designing packages for out-of-towners that include accommodations, food, transfers and first class seats in Centre Court, No. 1 Court or No. 2 Court, which start at $388.
If you want to see the top players, get Centre Court seats, where the finals and semifinals of the main events are played, as well as many earlier round matches involving top players. Obviously, Centre Court tickets are the most expensive, and get more so as the tournament continues. Court No. 1 is the next best thing, and so on.
There’s good reason to get a grounds pass, besides the price (between $7 and $38). This ticket gives you standing room and unreserved seats on courts 3-19, and while there’s only a small chance you will see players like Djokovic, Federer or Nadal on these courts (chances are better in the early stages of the tournament), you will get to see the most matches and you’ll be right beside the action.
According to Wimbledon’s website, Centre Court tickets range from about $77 to $248, Court No. 1 from approximately $43 to $138, Court No. 2 from approximately $57 to $100 and Court No. 3 from approximately $60 to $100.
What to Wear
Photo via Getty by Clive Brunskill
There is no dress code and this isn’t the type of tournament where crazy hats crowd the grounds. However, feel free to wear something colorful and fun (as long as it’s comfortable and weather-appropriate), as many Brits will be.
Where to Stay
London is an expensive city already, and it gets even more so during their beloved tennis championships. For this reason, we recommend booking an apartment via HomeAway, where you will easily find a lovely London flat for less than what hotels are charging.
If you plan on spending your time seeing London sites as well as tennis, Homeaway has flats like this 2-bedroom with a rooftop terrace in Chelsea for as low as $185 per night. This flat is conveniently located on the District line, which will take you directly to the matches.
If all you want is Wimbledon and couldn’t care less about the Queen (yeah, we went there), the Antoinette Hotel in Wimbledon will meet your needs. Wimbledon’s largest hotel offers basic rooms with royal charm via jewel-tone curtains and pillows, and bathrooms with dramatic freestanding tubs. Only 1.7 miles from the hotel, the action is easily accessible via foot or 20-minute bus ride. Rooms start around $168.
is Paste Magazine’s assistant travel editor.