Scores of tennis fans have grabbed their tents and pitched up outside Wimbledon to secure their place in the orderly ticket queue for the upcoming Championships.
Although prime spots in the stands are like gold dust, any mad scramble for the box office is squashed by a strict set of rules which all spectator hopefuls must obey.
The All England Tennis Club – which prides itself on hosting a civilised sporting event – claims that queuing is ‘as much a part of the Wimbledon experience as the tennis itself’.
Therefore instead of the campsite descending into a jungle of tents, the famous south west London patch is instead organised into neat single-file rows.
Today tennis lovers hauled their camping gear on to the grass and formed a long procession of tents under the watchful eye of the marshalls who imposed the rigid queue structure.
Yet the peaceful ambiance was interrupted by a group of Extinction Rebellion eco-activists who charged through the campsite waving banners and chanting.
Fans were pictured in shorts and t-shirts erecting their tents early this morning to bag entry to the Championship which kicks off tomorrow.
Although temperatures cooled from yesterday’s record-smashing 91F annual high, Wimbledon revellers will still roast in 82F heat.
The lines of tennis fans are forbidden from playing loud music, the ‘excessive consumption’ of alcohol and any other anti-social behaviour if they want to avoid being kicked out before they even get in.
Those camping out in a bid to land prime seats are only allowed tents holding a maximum of two people while barbecues, fires and smoking are all banned.
Queuers are allowed a ‘temporary absence’ from their place in line to get food or visit the toilet, but these ‘should not exceed 30 minutes’.
In 1924, Wimbledon introduced a public ballot to apply for tickets, but this has always been oversubscribed.
The first round of the ballot opened in September and the last people to find out if they have been successful are informed as late as July.
But a limited number of tickets are released on each day of the competition, which is why so many fans have today flocked to the Wimbledon lawn.
By Chris Dyer
Fears Extinction Rebellion protesters would disrupt the Wimbledon Championships appeared to be unfounded as activists took part in a light-hearted demonstration.
Around 30 activists arrived at the gates of the All England Club today to give advice to tennis fans waiting in the queue.
Dressed as a giant tennis ball, a pink squid and a bottle, the protesters handed out leaflets as well as gave fans lessons on how single-use plastics damage the ocean.
The activists also carried tennis rackets and a net with plastic bottles tied to it, as one demonstrator dressed as a yellow ball jumped over the obstacle.
Attached to the net was a sign that read, ‘if the bath tub was overflowing, you would turn off the tap before reaching for the mop’.
The demonstration was to coincide with the build up to the tournament as fans camped in the ticket queue ahead of the first day of Wimbledon.
The climate change group successfully blockaded several parts of London earlier this year, including Parliament Square, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge.
Before the Wimbledon protest Extinction Rebellion activists said their campaign was against the excessive use of single-use plastics rather than the event itself.
The main focus of their latest campaign are drinks companies Evian and Robinsons, whom they claim are adding to the climate crisis.
Evian has vowed to become a circular company by 2025 and is using this year’s tournament to launch its new 100 per cent recycled water bottle.
Extinction Rebellion said: ‘Our message is simple. No more plastic bottles. No more single-use plastics – it’s naive to think we can recycle our way out of this problem.’
It added: ‘[Evian and Robinsons] are adding to the unacceptable proliferation of single-use plastic waste that threatens biodiversity in our oceans and contributes to climate chaos.’
‘The Ineos plastic manufacturing plant in Grangemouth uses the same amount of electricity as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen combined just to keep it running, plus huge quantities of fossil fuels, which are used to manufacture nearly all plastics.
‘Recycling isn’t enough. If we want the Earth and its seas to remain habitable, we need to radically reduce the amount of plastic we use – and particularly single-use plastics.’
There has been growing public anxiety about the mountains of plastic waste making its way to the ocean – triggered in part by Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II which aired last year.
There are a number of initiatives at Wimbledon this year to reduce plastic, including extra recycling bins and ‘eco champions’ on the ground to encourage visitors to recycle.
The Met Police have been approached for comment on Extinction Rebellion’s plans.
Extinction Rebellion branded the products of both companies ‘unnecessary’.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘The action will be peaceful – in line with everything Extinction Rebellion does.
‘It is targeting sponsors such as Evian and Robinsons and it is not intended to disrupt the tennis or interfere with fans but it will be very visible – we are fans of tennis, it’s just single-use plastic and bottled water that we object to.’
Backing the demonstration, celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who co-hosted the recent BBC documentary War On Plastic, said: ‘Plastic production has doubled since the year 2000, and it’s accelerating.
‘If this trend continues, then by 2050, plastic production will be responsible for 15% of global carbon emissions.