The atmosphere at Wimbledon is like no other. Fast-paced tennis from the world’s best players – the most prestigious tournament in the wold. Wimbledon offers great accessibility for disabled visitors and spectators, and there is even a Wheelchair Tennis tournament.
The Championships, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Since the first tournament in 1877, The Championships have been hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) in Wimbledon, London.
The AELTC issue an easy access guide to Wimbledon with all wheelchair tickets, which is very comprehensive and contains all of the information that a disabled spectator needs to visit the Wimbledon Championships.
On entry to the grounds accessible toilet keys are available to borrow, and disabled spectators are told to contact a steward if they needed any assistance at all. Subject to availability, pre-paid 'Disabled' car parking may be available for Blue Badge holders. AELTC is well serviced by public transport and drop off points close to the entry gates are available. Assistance dogs are permitted entry to the Grounds and Show Courts
The grounds themselves are completely flat, and a smooth tarmacked surface ideal for wheelchairs. There are accessible toilets near most Courts, as well as food outlets which are either level with the ground or ramped. Each wheelchair tickets comes with a complimentary companion ticket, sold via a ballot system. On Centre Court, and Courts 1, 2 and 3, dedicated viewing areas for wheelchair users are reserved. Courts 4 – 18 have limited unreserved spaces for wheelchair users. The main grass level of the Aorangi Terrace, from which the Large Screen may be viewed, has ramped access and a reserved area.
For souvenirs of all kinds – branded polo shirts, rackets and balls, and treats like the famous Lanson Champagne - there are several gift shops and stalls, the largest being near court 1, which is more spacious and accessible than the rest.
Wheelchair tennis has been played at Wimbledon since 2005 when a doubles competition was first introduced, and in 2016 the first Wheelchair Singles competition was played. The one major difference to the standard rules of tennis is that the wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball before returning it. Great Britain is one of the leading nations in the world for wheelchair tennis.
As well as watching the Championships, you can also visit the Lawn Tennis Museum at Wimbledon. Here you can view trophies and tennis fashions, and learn about the histories and traditions of the Championships. The Museum and Museum Shop has step-free access. Seating is provided at various points around the Museum, and the displays are positioned for use by wheelchair users.
Museum ticket holders may also visit Centre Court, accompanied a helpful Tour Assistants, on a short 10 minute visit.
Wimbledon’s award-winning behind-the-scenes tours of the Grounds are the perfect way to see this world-famous site. Tour highlights include the Media Centre, BBC Studio, Players' Entrance, Main Press Interview Room and Centre Court. The Tour of the Grounds takes about 90 minutes. The route includes many steps which some might find challenging. An alternative step-free route is available.
With the Championships, the Wheelchair Championships, The Lawn Tennis Museum, and Tours of the Grounds all accessible to disabled visitors, there is so much to see and do at Wimbledon! In fact you may just want to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy some iconic strawberries and cream, cucumber sandwiches and a glass of Pimms!
Carrie-Ann Lightley is a traveller, a blogger and an inspiration for the less mobile traveller. She doesn’t let her Cerebral Palsy slow her down from enjoying the world, near and far. Living with the mantra of ‘there is always a way’ her travel blog provides expertise and inspiration for accessible travel. Visit Carrie-Ann at https://www.carrieannlightley.com