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Wimbledon queue enjoyable but ‘victim of its own success’ says boss

The queue is unique among the Grand Slams, and camping out for tickets has become increasingly trendy.

Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis has admitted the Wimbledon queue has become a victim of its own success but its future is not in doubt.

Fans began queuing on Saturday for Centre Court tickets to watch Andy Murray open the tournament and on Monday there were 1,000 more people waiting in Wimbledon Park than on the same day last year.

Wimbledon announced on Sunday that the queue was already at capacity for show court tickets and that is set to be a familiar theme of the fortnight.

The queue is unique among the Grand Slams, and camping out for tickets has become increasingly trendy.

Lewis said: “So many people enjoy queuing. I don’t think it will ever be unsustainable but it’s a victim of its own success at the moment.

“We put out messages often where we say the queue is full. Predicting how many people will get in is the trick.”

This year’s tournament is being played amid tightened security after terrorist attacks in the UK.

“The most visible difference is the vehicle blockers in the park, which have been put in based on recommendations of the security services for obvious reasons,” said Lewis.

“There’s other increased measures in place but most of them are below the radar. There’s an increase in surveillance both from the security services and ourselves.

“The comments I’ve seen (from the players) have been positive and say they feel safe and secure, and I think it’s something they’re used to around the world.”

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The first people in the queue for day one of Wimbledon 2017 (Philip Toscano/PA)

Another change this year saw a more formal approach to qualifying, held at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton.

For the first time fans needed a ticket to get in, with 1,000 available each day for £5, while a stand was built around one court and matches televised.

Wimbledon insisted the changes had nothing to do with Maria Sharapova’s likely presence in qualifying – the five-time Grand Slam champion ended up pulling out through injury.

And Lewis said the changes will stay despite criticism from some fans, who felt the event was emptier than in previous years.

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Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis (John Walton/PA)

“Definitely, and I think we’ll try to improve it,” he said. “We had the broadcast court, we ticketed the event, which we had to do because of the way the world is changing.

“One of the things in terms of counting the numbers is the Bank of England members can bring guests so we have to allow for that.

“It was more spread out because of the new court but actually we felt there were pretty much the same number of people and I think the first day was the only day we didn’t let everybody in.”

One thing that will not be changing, though, is the strict dress code for the Royal Box.

MPs may no longer have to wear ties in the House of Commons, but Lewis said: “It’s part of the charm of Wimbledon that in some places, like the queue, it’s incredibly relaxed, and in other parts it’s jacket and tie so no plans to change.”

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