Who’s for Tennis? A Guide to Wimbledon Etiquette

As the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament gets underway in leafy South West London, we take a look at some of the (written and unwritten) etiquette rules of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.

Lat year, the British grand slam was cancelled due to coronavirus and, while tennis fans will delight in the return of on-court action from Djokovic, Federer, the Williams sisters et al, additional restrictions are in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.  

The Queues

The British are famous for their love of orderly lines but Wimbledon takes the art of queuing to another level. The seemingly never-ending line of tennis fans hoping to get their hands on a coveted on-the-day ticket has become as much part of Wimbledon tradition as strawberries and cream.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club even has its own Queuing Code of Conduct, which stipulates that “overnight queuers must only use tents that accommodate a maximum of two persons” and bans the use of barbecues or camping stoves.

Anti-social behaviour, such as smoking, loud music or excessive alcohol consumption is also strictly forbidden and comfort breaks should not be longer than 30 minutes. And don’t even think about trying to sneak to the front. All tennis fans who join the queue are handed dated and numbered Queue Cards to mark their place in the line.

This year, queuing is not allowed and only spectators who have secured tickets online will be allowed to enter the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Fans are still allowed to watch the action from the iconic Henman Hill, although numbers have been capped at 50% of normal attendance. 

The Dress Code

Unlike Royal Ascot, there is no official dress code for Wimbledon spectators. The only exception is if you are lucky enough to be invited to the Royal Box, where gentlemen have to wear a jacket and tie and ladies are in formal day dress.

The Wimbledon etiquette guidelines advise against ripped denim, dirty trainers and sports attire while T-shirts with political slogans or personal brands are not permitted. Big hats are not allowed either, as they could block the view for other fans. This year, ticket-holders are also required to wear face masks when moving around the venue although they can be removed when seated. 

It is a different story for the players, who have to adhere to the famous ‘all white’ dress code. In fact, the rules are so strict that the referee can force players to change or face disqualification if they fail to comply.

Food and Drink

Wimbledon is synonymous with British classics like strawberries and cream and Pimm’s. On average, 190,000 portions of English strawberries are consumed every year at the Championships along with 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s.

Food within the grounds is not cheap so you may prefer to bring your own picnic. Do bear in mind that there are limits on the amount of wine, beer or premixed spirits you are allowed to bring in. Flasks, travel mugs or opaque bottles are not allowed either.

Clapping and Cheering

You may be at one of the world’s biggest sporting events, but do contain your excitement or you may find yourself being shown the door. Cheering in the middle of rallies is strictly forbidden, as is calling out players’ names before they’re about to serve.

Once the point has been played, clapping and cheering is allowed. However, you should never clap a net cord or double fault as this is considered very rude. Moving around the courts is also rigorously monitored by the stewards. You can only enter or leave a court after the third game of the set and when the players change sides.

Some Final Words of Advice

• Bring an umbrella as the British weather can be unpredictable.
• Leave your selfie stick at home as they are not allowed around the courts.
• Do not forget to switch your mobile phone off before taking your seat.
• Always be polite to the stewards. They are there to make the event run smoothly for everyone.
• Do keep your queue card or ticket with you at all times.

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