The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has announced an end to the historic postal ballot process for tickets to Wimbledon, one of a number of amendments it has detailed ahead of this year’s edition of the grand slam tournament.
Wimbledon has traditionally operated a system through which fans were required to send a stamped and addressed envelope for an application form, which they then needed to return to AELTC to enter the ballot for tickets.
This system has been in place since 1924, but from 2020 applications for the public ballot will be conducted online.
AELTC said in a statement: “Ensuring the accessibility of Wimbledon tickets for spectators of all ages and geographical locations remains a primary focus and importantly the ballot will retain the principle that applications may be submitted at any time during the application window; there is no advantage to being the fastest to apply.”
The new online process will not mean an end of the queueing that is now widely seen as part of the Wimbledon experience. Fans often camp overnight outside the grounds in order to secure prime places in the queue for on-the-day tickets.
The 2019 edition of Wimbledon will take place from 1st-14th July and is set to herald the introduction of the new-look No.1 Court. The AELTC and main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine have announced the completion of the three-year project on time and on budget.
Among the enhancements are a new fixed and retractable roof; an increased capacity of 12,345; the replacement of all seats inside the stadium for improved spectator comfort; 15 refurbished hospitality suites; further enhancement to the two-level Walled Garden public plaza; and the installation of a living wall either side of the Big Screen facing Aorangi Terrace. This work raises the capacity of the grounds to 42,000.
Elsewhere, the Southern Village will be introduced. A new public area in the south of the grounds, the Village will feature The Tennis Shop, food and drink outlets, a new Tennis Fan Experience, and a sustainability activation space alongside No.2 Court and Court 12.
Within the Southern Village is the Rosewater Pavilion, the new official hospitality space inside the grounds, provided by official hospitality provider Keith Prowse, alongside The Lawn, which is situated across Church Road at the Wimbledon Club.
On a sustainability and environmental impact theme, several changes will be implemented for 2019. These will include the launch of the first 100% recycled, 100% recyclable water bottle from Evian, the official water of the Championships.
The removal of plastic bags from the player racket stringing operation will also mean there will be 4,500 fewer plastic bags used at this year’s Championships.
AELTC has also announced the latest rise in prize money for the event. The total prize money fund for the Championships 2019 will be £38m, an 11.8% increase on £34m last year. The ladies’ and gentlemen’s singles champions will each receive £2.35m, increased from £2.25m in 2018.
Commenting on the changes, outgoing AELTC Chairman Philip Brook said: “As I approach the end of my tenure as Chairman of the AELTC and the Championships, I have been proud to have witnessed a period of significant change over the past decade.
“The investment we have made in our estate, in the grass court season, in facilities for all of our guests both onsite and around the world, in prize money, in the surplus to the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), and in our staff, has resulted in strong foundations for the future of the Championships and of our sport as we plan for a new period of leadership.
“The enhancements announced for 2019, in particular the successful completion of the No.1 Court Project, continue to reflect our confidence in the future and in our strategy of continuous improvement, to maintain Wimbledon’s place at the pinnacle of the sport.”