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Top 10 Moments of 2021: Wimbledon's transformed queue
The global pandemic moved the notoriously in-person ticketing queue online; the first batch of 170,000 tickets offered were sold in 40 minutes.
Published Dec 17, 2021
5. Ticket Stampede: Wimbledon's queue transformed
Getting a Centre Court ticket was once synonymous with camping all night in Wimbledon's famous 'Queue,' which stretched hundreds of meters down the road from the All England Club. This year, it involved camping in front of a screen in a queue with a few hundred thousand of people at the same time.
The traditional queue having been scrapped by coronavirus pandemic restrictions—temporarily, the Club insisted, ticket sales moved online instead. The first allotment went on sale at 1 p.m., 11 days before the tournament, and there was a rush to get them. All 170,000 tickets offered were sold in 40 minutes.
Still, it wasn't entirely smooth. The website did not collapse like the LTA's had just three weeks before when tickets for warm-up events went on sale, but there were long lines and problems with codes for purchases. All across the country, fans were logging in from work, from home, and more than a few from the stands at that week's tour events. There was word of one particularly determined fan at Birmingham who was clicking on the site so often, he was suspected of being a gambler and almost booted from the tournament grounds.
But those who got tickets experienced some memorable sights and sounds, especially striking following the cancellation of the 2020 event. There was Serena Williams walking on Centre Court in a half-ballgown, but limping it off it in less than half and hour when she slipped and got a hamstring injury that sidelined her for the rest of the season.
There was Andy Murray, playing singles on Centre Court for the first time since hip surgery, going up two sets and 5-0 but needing four sets to win his opener, then going five sets in the second round in front of roaring fans.
There was Roger Federer, nursing a still-troublesome knee to the quarterfinals. Around the grounds, there were Venus Williams and Nick Kyrgios pulling crowds by pairing in mixed doubles.
And Ashleigh Barty, slicing and volleying her way through the draw, plus Ons Jabeur drop-shotting and trick-shotting her way to the quarters. Also Emma Raducanu, riding the home crowds to a fourth-round meeting in her first appearance at the Championships, and tennis couple Ajla Tomljanovic and Matteo Berrettini both got to the quarterfinals, with Berrettini reaching the final.
The online system also brought a new type of crowd to the tournament—many had never before been to Wimbledon, but took advantage of the expanded offerings to get seats. The event was limited to half-capacity until the finals and ticket purchases had been only open to those in Britain, but it didn't seem pared down. Unlike the polite applause that usually fills the stands at SW19, spectators were noticeably louder and more involved this time round—especially following a year away.
The virtual line for tickets had brought a lot of people to the courts in person.