Empty seats at Wimbledon are frustrating tennis fans desperate to buy tickets, so why are there so many?

Although this is the first time since 2019 that Wimbledon matches have been played in front of capacity crowds, the world’s best tennis players have often been greeted by rows and rows of empty seats.

Millions of desperate local fans usually vie with international enthusiasts to get their hands on Wimbledon tickets.

The fourth-round match between French Harmony Tan and American Amanda Anisimova barely filled the stadium. (Reuters: Hannah McKay)

The chance to step into the 5.4 hectares of verdant grounds of the All England Club and see players such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters compete for tennis’ most famous trophies has attracted growing numbers these last years.

Pre-COVID tournament drew half a million

In 2019, the last championships held before the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 500,397 spectators attended the 13-day tournament, the second highest in Wimbledon history.

On the opening day of this year’s competition, however, even the presence of Britain’s first Grand Slam champion in 45 years failed to sell out on center court.

Emma Raducanu fist pumps on tennis court
Emma Raducanu played in a half-full stadium. (Reuters: Toby Melville)

When US Open champion Emma Raducanu walked the lush green carpet for the first time last Monday, the half-full stadium that greeted her was not what she, or the organizers, could have expected. expect.

So why aren’t there enough spectators?

A tennis player in front of a crowd with several empty seats seen in Wimbledon Stadium.
Wimbledon usually attracts a much larger number. (Reuters: Matthew Childs)

With 42,000 spectators allowed onto the pitch at any one time, not including ticket resales, 256,808 fans attended the Championships in the first six days of 2019.

In contrast, 237,927 spectators came through the gates during the corresponding days of this year’s event.

Benches of empty seats, along with the dwindling of nearly 19,000 fans, do not make headlines at an event considered one of the highlights of the British summer – especially when thousands of disgruntled viewers turn up complain of having tried in vain to buy tickets.

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Many empty seats were visible around the Royal Box, which is usually reserved for corporate guests or members of the All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association.

In previous years, punters have been eagerly waiting to find out if they’ve managed to get their hands on a ticket after having their names thrown into the mix in a public ballot.

This year, however, there was no ballot, as those who had secured tickets for the canceled 2020 Championships were offered places for the same day and the same ground this year.

Technical problems impact resales

Two people seated in four rows of seats
Many empty seats were visible around the royal box.(Reuters: Hannah McKay)

The number of those fans who bought tickets for this year’s tournament has not been made public, but it means tickets for 2022 have been hard to come by.

Organizers were also frustrated on the first two days of the tournament when technical issues impacted resales as the original center court ticket holders decided to walk off the pitch.

The issue resulted in long lines at resale centers and empty seats inside the arena.

Wimbledon organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters

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