The Wimbledon queue has been condemned by tennis fans as a ‘complete shambles’ after some were forced to wait up to 10 hours.
Staff have been thoroughly checking paints for paint, coloured powders and glue amid fears that Just Stop Oil could target the high-profile sporting event.
Fans eagerly who eagerly waited for the first day of the Championship are 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 have been subjected to airport-style security as staff look out for chalk dust and powders which have been banned at the prestigious tournament for the first time ever.
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, The Telegraph reports.
Wimbledon regulars described the famous queue as the ‘worst they had ever seen’, while others chose to give up and walk away.
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 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.’
Meanwhile another claimed to have spent £80 on a Centre Court ticket – only to be swept up in seven-and-a-half hour queues.
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.
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 have 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 protests.
The high-profile sporting event comes after Just Stop Oil disrupted the second Ashes test at Lord’s, the Gallagher Premiership rugby final at Twickenham and the World Snooker Championship.
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.
Filip Reha, who flew to London from the Czech Republic for the tournament, also said he heard delays were caused by security issues.
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
Fans blasted staff for not doing anything and keeping them in one queue rather than spreading out to other ticket desks
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
The 30-year-old, who has been to Wimbledon four times, said: ‘This is the worst time I’ve seen. Normally we went here around 8am in the morning and got inside around 12.30pm.
‘This time it’s terrible.’
Michelle Martin, from Sydney, said she has not moved in the queue since 7.30am. She has seen Wimbledon eight or nine times in the past, and said she has never seen the queue in such a bad way.
‘This is where we started the queue,’ the IT worker said.
‘It’s very frustrating and disappointing.’
Her friend Naheed Tapya, from London, added: ‘I think it’s really poor that there’s been no information because you can’t make any informed decisions.’
One tennis fan making her first trip to see the action at Wimbledon on Monday 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.
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
‘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.’
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.’
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
She told journalists there is ‘100% bag search’ and ‘selective body search’ at all gates – the latter of which will be conducted ‘on the basis of intelligence’.
A number of fans have wrote angry messages to the tweet from Wimbledon’s account, revealing their frustrations with some demanding refunds.
In response to Wimbledon saying grounds are set to be at capacity, Farhan Abrol wrote: ‘Worst tournament I’ve been to. 7 hours in queue. Still at least 2 hours away from getting in. Need news coverage of this.’
Karen Fletcher commented: ‘Been in nearly 4.5 hours not moved. Queue cards took over an hour so loads pushed in.
‘Not enough toilets, very limited communication. Not like the normal, efficiently managed queue at all today I’m afraid.’
Jennie Saxe added: ‘I’m around 3,000 in the queue and it is NOT moving. Been here since before 6am.
‘I’m all for tradition but everyone says this is unprecedented. What’s going on?’
The comments were all in response to Wimbledon’s official tweet before midday which read: ‘Our Grounds are set to be at capacity today, which means those already in the Queue will be waiting several hours for admission.
‘We advise people intending to Queue today not to travel to Wimbledon.’
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 online have 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.
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.
Spectators were urged to pack raincoats and umbrellas and brace for scattered showers.
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.