What is the Etiquette at the Wimbledon Championships?
By Ed C
Updated 18th January 2022
There are various Tournament rules in place to ensure that spectators have a safe and enjoyable experience, and players can concentrate on the game without distraction.
Etiquette, however, is all about the unwritten rules. If you are a first time visitor to the Championships, how do you avoid making an embarrassing faux pas? What is the established etiquette at Wimbledon?
The AELTC rules
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) prides itself on a continuum of tradition and decorum at the Championships. There are a variety of rules that apply to spectators and players, some of which are particularly idiosyncratic,.
We cover the formal spectator rules in detail here. This article focuses on the unwritten and unspoken rules, as well as what passes as polite and acceptable social conduct at the Tournament.
There are a number of rules that players must abide by when competing in the Championships. The all-white dress code is probably the best known of these rules, which is unique amongst the Grand Slam Tournaments.
Player etiquette has become well ensconced (if occasionally tested!) over the years in this historic tournament. Player etiquette includes:
- Always shaking hands before and after a game
- Not engaging in ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’
- not making obscene gestures, swearing or engaging in any aggressive or inappropriate behaviour (players can actually be fined up to $20,000 for violations).
If you are attending Wimbledon with a Public Ballot ticket or if you have braved the Wimbledon Queue, there is no specific dress code. However, spectators are encouraged to dress smartly - particularly on Centre Court or No.1 Court.
Getting it right is a fine line between being too casual and overdoing it. Combat trousers. ripped jeans and T-shirts will be frowned upon. Your Ascot top hat and tails would be far too formal.
Aim for a smart casual look. Linen and cotton clothes can capture the spirit of the Summer Tournament. Summer dresses for ladies and a shirt and blazer for men is a classic choice. If you want to wear a hat, a Panama hat is de rigueur. A tall hat that could block the view of others will not be popular.
If you are attending the Tournament with a Wimbledon Debenture Ticket, the rules do require smart casual dress, especially if you want to enter the exclusive Debenture bars, restaurants and lounges. This doesn't mean you have to wear a jacket and tie, but smart chinos and a shirt would be the minimum standard.
For ladies, again, a summer dress would be perfect. The trick is to be noticeable without looking like you tried too hard.
Eating and drinking at the Tournament
Attendees can bring food and drink with them into The Championships, but must not bring picnic hampers, flasks, cool boxes, hard sided containers or camping chairs.
You may also bring alcohol into the grounds but are limited to one 750ml bottle of wine or Champagne, or two cans of 500ml beer. You may not bring spirits and fortified wines into the grounds. All drinks taken onto the Show Courts must be covered to avoid spillage.
Eating lunch in the Courts is not considered good form. You are allowed to take a packed lunch into the Courts, subject to the above rules. If you do decide to eat during the game, you should try do so in the least distracting way possible and you must be respectful of people around you. In particular you should not take strong smelling foods or foods in noisy packaging into the Courts.
Although the food and drink is not cheap at the Championships, there are a lot of food options to suit all budgets.
Cheering, clapping and heckling
Wimbledon matches can certainly peak spectator emotion. It can be very tempting to shout an encouraging "come on", as your favourite player prepares to serve. Cheering in the middle of a rally is strictly prohibited.
Timing is everything and less is certainly more. If you can’t hold your tongue, any words of encouragement must be expressed before the preparation to serve.
Cheering in the middle of rallies is strictly forbidden, as is calling out players’ names before they’re about to serve.
Once a point has been won, a cheer, yelp, shout or gasp is perfectly acceptable. A round of applause is actively encouraged. Note that spectators are specifically asked not to clap a net cord or double fault.
You can talk to your friends during play, as long as you keep the volume to an absolute minimum and don’t upset the enjoyment of others.
Generally respecting the personal space of those around you is the order of the day.
With thousands of spectators sharing the stadium with you, seats are closely spaced. Sitting up straight is good manners. Avoid using other spectator’s seats as a footrest or placing your belongings on other people’s seats.
You are allowed to take photos during the game, but not if doing so constitutes a nuisance or distraction. Taking too many photos, using a flash or loud camera and using a long zoom lens will be a quick way to earn the disapproval of those around you.
Moving around the Courts
Moving around the courts during the match is strictly regulated. Spectators are only allowed to leave their seats after the third game of the set and then after the players change ends every other game.
If you do take a toilet break, you must return to your seat during the same times.
The Wimbledon Queue
If you are planning on trying your luck in the famous Wimbledon queue, there are a few things to be aware of.
No one takes queueing more seriously than the British. Queue jumping is absolutely not done.
You may be camping out for the night. You must not pitch any larger than a 2 man tent and barbecues, and fires are not allowed.
You should refrain from playing loud music. Any drunk or disorderly behaviour will likely result in you being asked to leave.
You can leave your place in the queue for a maximum of 30 minutes for toilet breaks or to get food. If you are absent for longer than 30 minutes, you will forfeit your place in the queue.
Secure your place at the 2024 Championships now
We currently have Wimbledon Debenture Tickets available to buy for Centre Court and No.1 Court, for every day of the 2024 Championships.
To get the ball rolling:
We had a great time on Saturday
"Just wanted to let you know that we had a great time on Saturday and that it all went smoothly. I didn't realise it was better than making a booking in a restaurant, but even then we were very lucky to get a beautiful table for 6 at the Wingfield restaurant. It was the only one available! Thanks for helping me organise this nice day with the family and let's stay in touch for future years."
Gabriel ButelerMore testimonials