Here we go again: Wimbledon fans join early morning queues after chaos sparked by increased airport-style security left some waiting for 10 HOURS on first day (and they may have to battle heavy rain too)
- Security measures include a 100% bag search and ‘elective body search at gates
Fans who missed out on watching the first day of Wimbledon after a security crackdown on Just Stop Oil left the queue in chaos may be forced to wait hours and battle through rain for another chance to watch today.
The Wimbledon queue was condemned as as being in ‘complete shambles’ yesterday after some tennis fans were forced to wait up to 10 hours in a bid to secure on-the-day tickets to the tournament.
Organisers said extra security measures, which included a ‘100 per cent bag search’ and ‘selective body search’ at all gates, that had been put in place over concerns about protests were to blame for the slow queue.
Security arrangements had been boosted after the climate change group disrupted the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, the Gallagher Premiership rugby final at Twickenham and the World Snooker Championship.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman will hold talks tomorrow with senior sporting figures and police leaders on protecting Wimbledon and other events this summer from disruptive protests, but queuers today are fearful they will be met with the same disappointment they experienced yesterday.
The Met Office has also forecast occasionally heavy rain across the south today, but that’s unlikely to stop home fans from braving the grey weather to watch Andy Murray face off against Ryan Peniston on Centre Court.
Wimbledon fans join early morning queues on Tuesday after chaos sparked by increased airport-style security left some waiting for 10 hours on the first day of the tournament
Wimbledon regulars who queued for on-the-day tickets on the first day of the tournament described the famous queue (pictured on Monday) as the ‘worst they had ever seen’, while others chose to give up and walk away
Staff yesterday were thoroughly checking paints for paint, coloured powders and glue amid fears that Just Stop Oil (JSO) could target the high-profile sporting event.
Fans eagerly who eagerly waited for the first day of the Championship were understood to have had sun cream, deodorant and metal water bottles confiscated amid dramatically heightened security at SW19.
Those arriving at Wimbledon on a rain-affected first day of tennis were subjected to airport-style security as staff look out for banned items of chalk dust and powders which were not listed as prohibited items in 2022.
Specialist undercover police spotters have also been deployed in the queues to try and identify potential protesters, which could result in fans being subjected to body searches.
Wimbledon regulars described the famous queue as the ‘worst they had ever seen’, while others chose to give up and walk away.
A spokesperson for the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said there was ‘high demand’ from queuers yesterday and thanked them for their ‘patience and understanding’.
They added: ‘Understandably, our security team on the gates are conducting an enhanced bag check operation.
Queuers arrived early on the second day of a tournament after Monday’s security chaos
‘While there has been a steady stream of guests entering the grounds since gates opened at 10am, entry via the queue has been at a slower rate than in previous years as a result of these checks.’
The club’s chief executive, Sally Bolton, attributed to increased security to fears that JSO would target the prestigious tournament,
Event organisers and national sporting bodies will meet Ms Braverman and Sports Secretary Lucy Frazer to discuss the JSO and Animal Rising groups.
Ms Bolton added: ‘We are really confident in the measures that we’ve taken but I think, as we’ve seen at other sporting events, we can’t guarantee anything – but we’re extremely confident that the measures we’ve got in place are the right measures and we are ready to deal with something if it happens.’
She also said the club is working with behavioural detection officers from the Metropolitan Police.
‘They’re not a new thing this year. We have them every year. So again they’re part of our operation this year and in a slightly enhanced way and maybe looking for slightly different things than they would in any other year,’ she said.
The Wimbledon queue has been condemned by fans as a ‘complete shambles’ after some were forced to wait 10 hours amid fears that Just Stop Oil will stage another protest
Fans were visibly impatient as they waited to get into the prestigious annual sporting event
Spectators have their bags checked as they enter the grounds at the start of day one of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships
Marvin Humes was among those who was stopped and searched as staff were on high alert amid fears of protests
Fans eagerly waiting the first day of the Championship are understood to have had sun cream, deodorant and metal water bottles confiscated amid heightened security at SW19
Fans have been forced to spend much of day one of Wimbledon queuing up in hopes of getting hold of a ticket
One ticket holder yesterday shared a picture of themselves watching the tennis on a TV back at home with the caption: ‘After a 6am start, a 6.5hrs queue, wind, rain, traffic – I am finally watching some Wimbledon tennis. #shambles.’
How does the ticket process for Wimbledon work?
The queue is a staple of Wimbledon – but this year it has been branded worse than ever, even by organisers themselves.
The Championship remains one of very few major sporting events where fans can buy tickets on the day.
For those who did not get lucky in the public ballots, a large queue to buy Show Court or Grounds tickets forms each day, starting at Wimbledon Park.
Tickets are sold on a best available, one per person queuing basis.
The queue often starts the evening before and gets busier throughout the morning.
There are 500 Show Court tickets – which comprises of Centre Court, No.1 Court and No. 2 Court – sold every day.
Grounds Pass tickets gives fans access to the rest of the courts including No.3 Court, Court 12 and Court 18, as well as The Hill, where the action from Centre and No.1 Courts is screened.
Another claimed to have spent £80 on a Centre Court ticket – only to be swept up in seven-and-a-half hour queues.
The queue is a staple of the Championships – with non-ticket holders able to obtain entry on the day by joining the line in Wimbledon Park
Tennis fans from across the world often travel days in advance to get a spot, but this year even organisers have admitted it is worse than ever.
Fans had been queueing since the early hours of the morning to make sure they can catch a glimpse of the action, with Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, and British hopefuls Katie Swann and Dan Evans among those on display.
The queue chaos forced Wimbledon to warn people against travelling to the venue on their official Twitter account as they revealed they were at full capacity.
Wimbledon admitted that queues were longer than previous years, releasing the statement: ‘There has been a high demand from members of the public to join the queue on day one at Wimbledon.
‘Understandably our security team on the gates are conducting an enhanced bag check operation.
‘While there has been a steady stream of guests entering the grounds since gates opened at 10 am, entry via the queue has been at a slower rate than previous years as a result of these checks.’
Becky Deeming, a communications and events manager from London, said she was told by a steward that delays were the result of tighter security measures because of concerns over potential JSO protests.
Ms Deeming said: ‘One of the stewards said that they were worried about protesters coming in after seeing protesters at the Ashes so they were doing extra bag searches for everyone.’
The 29-year-old arrived to queue at 3.45am on Monday and got into the grounds at 1.15pm. ‘There was no water, nowhere to sit, it was the longest queue,’ she said.
‘Everyone around us had done it multiple times and they said: ‘We have never seen it like this. People were getting up and leaving.’
She said she queued for Wimbledon in 2018 and got into the grounds in a much shorter amount of time.
Ms Deeming added that it was ‘such a bad experience’ and it would put her off queuing in the future.
One fan decided to pack in the queue chaos and return home to watch it from the comfort of his sofa
Furious tennis fans vented on social media as they battled with long queues at SW19
Some Wimbledon fans decided to give up on queuing up, with one describing is as ‘absolutely shambolic’
One fan claimed that he that he had a Centre Court ticket and still had to queue for seven-and-a-half hours
Spectators queue in the Wimbledon Park ahead of day one of the Championships at SW19
The queue, which starts in Wimbledon Park (pictured), is a staple of the Championship, but organisers admitted it was worse than previous years
Wimbledon regulars said the queue from Wimbledon Park (pictured) to get in was worse than ever
Thousands of ticketless fans descended on Wimbledon this morning but many were let down by massive queues
Filip Reha, who flew to London from the Czech Republic for the tournament and has been to Wimbledon four times, said yesterday: ‘This is the worst time I’ve seen. Normally we went here around 8am in the morning and got inside around 12.30pm.
The 30-year-old added: ‘This time it’s terrible.’
One tennis fan making her first trip to see the action at Wimbledon yesterday was left disappointed after an hours-long wait in the queue forced her to give up.
Melissa Donaldson, 28, from Guildford in Surrey, said she and her friends had ‘coordinated around our calendars and had this planned for months’ and was not sure ‘whether to even bother’ in future.
‘So this was my first time attending the Wimbledon championships and (I) was assured by friends, if we get there by 8am then we’d max wait about three hours to get in, and would be able to make the first matches,’ she said.
‘I live in Surrey, was up at 5.30am, on a train by 6.30 and arrived at 8am. We didn’t move from our original spot in the queue for 5.5 hours. There was no communication from staff, no statements from Wimbledon.
‘When it got to about 1pm we were asking volunteer staff for updates but they didn’t have any updates for us either. I was number 9,898 in the queue and by 1pm I heard that they hadn’t even reached 3,000 so we left.
‘I’ve been a tennis fan for decades, finally decided to commit to the event, and it was the worst queuing experience of my life. I’ve had four-hour flight delays that were better coordinated. It’s making us question whether to even bother for future years.’
Wimbledon fans bring a sofa to the park as they brace for ridiculously long queues in SW19
Wimbledon were forced to issue a statement about the lengths of the queues, where they admitted it was longer than usual
A man sleeps on the grass as people queue on the first day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships
Spectators have their bags searched amid heightened security at Wimbledon this afternoon
Long queues outside Wimbledon have marred the opening day of the Championships
Some fans who have been queueing since the early hours claimed they have waited over ten hours in the queue
Fans have demanded refunds on social media in angry messages to Wimbledon’s official Twitter account
Wimbledon were forced to warn fans not to travel to SW19 as they had reached full capacity
The queue is usually busy on the first few days of the tournament for non-ticket holders who are able to obtain ground passes on the day by waiting in Wimbledon Park.
It normally starts forming the evening before and increases in the morning of play with Wimbledon’s website stating fans who join the queue by 9am have a good chance of getting hold of a ticket or grounds pass – though this is not guaranteed.
Ticket holders noted an increase in time in the security process on gates on Monday morning – with arrangements uplifted in the wake of a series of environmental protests at other sporting events.
Chalk dust or powder substances have been banned this year and were not listed as prohibited items in 2022, according to organisers.
Cable ties, glue, chains and padlocks are also listed as banned items.
Speaking about increased security, AELTC chief executive Sally Bolton told reporters: ‘Of course we’ve taken account of what we’ve seen elsewhere, so security has been uplifted in various places around the grounds.’
She added: ‘We are really confident in the measures that we’ve taken but I think, as we’ve seen at other sporting events, we can’t guarantee anything – but we’re extremely confident that the measures we’ve got in place are the right measures and we are ready to deal with something if it happens.’
It comes after Just Stop Oil disrupted the first morning of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s, storming the pitch with orange powder. England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took matters into his own hands by carrying one of them off the pitch.
Wimbledon’s website makes it clear that visitors with any banned item ‘may be refused entry or ejected from the grounds’ and any items surrendered as a condition of entry cannot be reclaimed.
Warnings had also been issued around potential disruption to travel as Aslef said last month its members would withdraw non-contractual overtime with 16 of the country’s 35 rail operators for six days from Monday.
Novak Djokovic was in action on day one, but many fans were unable to see the Serbian play
Venus Williams played Ukraine’s Elina Mykhailivna Svitolina in a first round women’s singles match on day one
Jodie Burrage celebrates winning her match against Caty McNally earlier this afternoon
Yesterday also saw play suspended on some courts after rain poured down in south-west London in the afternoon.
There were farcical scenes on Centre Court as ground staff used leaf blowers to try to dry the surface so Novak Djokovic and Pedro Cachin could resume play, which they eventually did after a delay of almost 90 minutes.
British players Jodie Burrage, Liam Broady and Jan Choinski all made it to the second round after winning their matches yesterday.
The championships will run until July 16, but today will see Andy Murray play fellow Briton Ryan Peniston on Centre Court.
Cameron Norrie will face Tomas Machac from the Czech Republic on Court One.
British colleagues Katie Boulter, Heather Watson, George Loffhagen and Sonay Kartal will also take to the courts today.
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