Wimbledon is one of the most famous sporting events in the world.
For two weeks, the entire UK seems to sit down with a Pimms and cheer on their favourite tennis players on the TV.
But, there are ways you can get into the All England Club and experience the pomp and tradition first hand.
One of the major questions I get asked is how to buy tickets. All of the other opens have the usual ticketing sites, usually using Ticketmaster etc. However Wimbledon has a ballot system in which to apply for tickets. Yep.
You have to write to the club with a self addressed envelope requesting a form to be posted back to you. Then you fill in your details and send it back and cross your fingers.
The ballot for this year closed on 15 December last year. Yes, you have to think that forward ahead.
Just a note here. I have never actually won tickets in the ballot. My aunt this year managed to get tickets for No 2 court in the first week which is pretty good going.
So I did mention that tickets are only by ballot but there is one exception. Every morning several hundred tickets for Centre Court and Number 3 court are put online.
They are a mix of returned tickets and reserved tickets. You can find out more about them here.
Again, I have tried and failed at this method. Perhaps this year will be my lucky year!
Now this is the method I have been most successful in. For me, it’s all part and parcel of the fun of going to Wimbledon.
A number of tickets for Centre Court, Number One Court and Number Two court are available to those who queue.
But be warned, fans get there incredibly early. If they know a good player will be there (i’m looking at you Federer) then people are known to queue 48 hours before the day they want to go.
Aside from those tickets, several thousand ground passes are available meaning that you can see all matches on outside courts.
Again, people tend to get there quite early. When I went on the Friday, I got to the queue at 6am and my queueing number was in the thousands – but I also got in so that was good!
Other times, i’ve queued at 7am and gotten into the site by 1pm – which again isn’t bad going!
It’s also worthwhile going down after work. I’ve been several times and managed to see some good games including one on Number One court! People tend to go home around this time which means that there are plenty of seats available for tennis fans.
Read more: A trip back to Wimbledon
Honestly it’s my favourite open i’ve been to. Sure, the heat of the Aussie Open is great but the traditional old school feel of Wimbledon is amazing. There’s none of the advertising crap. Everything is back to basics.
I like to think of it as Disneyland for tennis fans. Beware of the gift shop, it’s actually amazing.
There’s always something to see – so many matches around to get hooked on. One of my favourite matches has to be seeing Heather Watson play doubles and the crowd were really into supporting a British player. It was so much fun.
Plus the Pimms there is great. One thing I would say though is that the food and drink there is pretty pricey so always worth bringing something with you.
If you’re queueing then definitely bring a battery pack with you for your phone and perhaps some light reading material. There’s only so many times you can read the Wimbledon guide to queuing to keep you occupied!
It’s also worth downloading the Wimbledon app so you can keep an eye on games and track where all of the courts are.
Water bottles – there are plenty of places in both the queue and at the site where you can fill up your water bottles.
A hat and suncream is always a good idea. When I was there last year, it was over 30C and it was sweltering hot.
Food and drink is allowed into the grounds. You can only bring one bag into the grounds with you. You are also permitted to bring in alcohol however you can only bring one bottle of wine or two 500ml cans of beer or alcoholic drink per person.
Read more: Getting inside Wimbledon