Wimbledon is about to launch a massive online sale, probably involving somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 tickets, with the first batch going live on the tournament’s own website at 1pm on Thursday.
Would-be buyers for Thursday’s sale must move quickly, as they need to be registered with the Wimbledon website by midnight on Wednesday. But this will not be the last chance. More tranches are to be made available in the coming days.
“We are going to be phasing the volume of tickets that we put on sale,” said the All England Club’s chief executive Sally Bolton. “This will help to manage the demand, and to provide people with as many opportunities as possible.”
These are unprecedented times for a tournament which has traditionally distributed more than half its tickets through two main streams: the postal ballot and the allocations to tennis club members across the country.
Now we are dealing with a Glastonbury-type scenario of fastest finger on the refresh button, and it will be interesting to see how the delivery mechanism affects the event’s clientele.
There may well be a People’s Sunday feel in the grounds, with some fans behaving more boisterously than the usual polite and well-heeled regulars. If we see a high proportion of first-time attendees, they could potentially generate enough noise to make up for the reduction in numbers.
After an intervention from the government this week, Wimbledon is to admit 21,000 fans per day – which is 50 per cent of normal capacity – while Centre Court will be seating full crowds of around 15,000 over finals weekend.
This represents a huge boost to the original minimum figure of 25 per cent capacity, which had suggested a total ticket sale of something like 100,000.
But not everyone has welcomed the increase, which was announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening. The football pundit Gary Neville was among those complaining about double standards. He wrote on Twitter: “Can’t dance at a wedding, but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at the All England Club packed with tens of thousands crammed like sardines in a tin.”
Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at The All England Club packed with tens of thousands crammed like sardines in a tin. https://t.co/bN3v8zIyEi
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) June 14, 2021
Other unimpressed observers included Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester, who tweeted “One rule for tennis, another for everyone else.”
On Wednesday, Bolton defended the AELTC from charges of special treatment. “Our view is very clearly that Wimbledon is for everyone,” she said. “We want anybody interacting with the club, whether they’re a member, the guest of a member, someone coming along to take a trip around the museum or attending the Championships, to experience a welcoming environment. So I don’t recognise us as an elitist organisation. But clearly people can have their own view.”
In other Wimbledon-related news, Naomi Osaka is still on the entry list, despite her withdrawal from the recent French Open in controversial circumstances. Osaka was threatened with suspension from future grand slams if she continued to boycott press conferences, which she claimed were damaging her mental health. She remains a doubtful participant.
Asked about the hardline stance taken by the four grand slams on the Osaka issue, Bolton replied “It is really important that every and any player knows they can have a conversation with us about any issues, and that door is always open. As a group of organisations, we are always striving to do better.”
Finally, the British wild cards for Wimbledon were announced on Wednesday. They include two-time champion Andy Murray, who won his first grass-court match for three years at Queen’s Club yesterday. Liam Broady, Jay Clarke and Jack Draper are the other men on the list, while Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Jodie Burrage, Fran Jones and Samantha Murray Sharan are the women.