A couple of bits of news released by the A.E.L.T.C this last week had me thinking again. This was obviously that they are looking to operate at a minimum 25% capacity this year and the news that next year the middle Sunday will become a regular fixture on the calendar.
It is really positive news that all being well we should have fans attending this year. We have always known it would not be business as usual but the thought of seeing those Presteigne grass courts with a crowd does something for the mind, the body and the soul. The summer wasn’t the same last year without SW19 and I am not just speaking on behalf of tennis fans there. It was the only one of the majors that we missed in 2020 and that will make it a bit more special this year.
I am all for play on the middle Sunday. The one major negative with it is that we will lose Manic Monday, which is an absolute feast of a day. If you are trying to spin a positive on that though you won’t get lost in what’s going on so easily over the last 16. I think making the Sunday a fans spectacle would far outway the negatives of ‘falling into line’ with the other three majors and losing a bit of uniqueness. We have some great memories from the peoples Sunday and with those being virtually a free for all in terms of tickets. The atmospheres we experienced in the ’90s and ’00s were quite something. I know with how times are now the queues cannot possibly be like that going forward, as much as a shame as that is. It can still be made about the people and more importantly the true tennis fans though. Even if that doesn’t include camping down Church Road like the good old days.
With this in mind, I was pleased to see my public consultation from the A.E.L.T.C in my inbox, asking me a variety of questions surrounding the Championships and relevant matters close to my heart such as tickets. I can honestly say I was more than happy to give my time to this. It is something having been so many times I feel pretty passionately about. I have been to the Championships every year since 1995. Some years I have been to the event for 4/5 days during that fortnight, sometimes just a day but judging by my list of programmes and pictures I must have racked up approximately 60 appearances. I boast an impressive range of Centre Court, Court One, Court two (both the originals included) and just general admission, that has included pretty much every player I could desire. The first day, Manic Monday, Finals day, you get the picture? As hardcore as this is, some fans, will make that record look pretty average I guarantee. The problem is there is no proof of it, in terms of being rewarded in the future. If only it was like my fan card at Liverpool where you have your attendance on record and could use that to your advantage in the ticket system. Basically, your loyalty being rewarded. Wouldn’t that be great? Especially if it gave priority to fans that had attended the ATP/WTA/Challenger/Wimbledon qualifier events during the grass-court campaign. These are the real fans at the end of the day. Probably not as easy as it sounds but there must be a possibility, especially if you bring LTA memberships into it.
After the year we have had it is great to be thinking about all of the above and long may it continue.
Andy Del Potro