Wimbledon fans face a washout in the first week of the tennis championship as torrential downpours are set to batter the UK causing travel chaos and flooding across the country.
The return of the tournament, which was cancelled last year because of coronavirus, comes as ticket holders are told they can watch tomorrow’s England vs Germany Euro 2020 match on their phones as long as cheering is kept to a minimum, despite concerns seats will be empty at kick-off.
Eager tennis fans queued early this morning for the start of the first socially distanced and covid-controlled Wimbledon.
More than four hours before the opening match on Centre Court long lines snaked towards the gates of the All England Club. Even grey, leaden skies could not dampen the enthusiasm of those able to get one of the tickets. Queues started to form 90 minutes before the gates opened at 10am.
The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) will allow fans to exit and re-enter the stadium ahead of the match at 5pm so they can watch the football in nearby pubs.
Meanwhile, the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for large parts of the south of England that are at risk of thundery storms in the coming week.
The warning, which means ‘be prepared’, was brought in last night as the Met Office has said ‘scattered torrential thundery downpours may bring some impacts, such as flooded roads’.
Tennis stars face rain breaks with two inches of rain in the south east this week, three inches in the south west and an inch in the Midlands. Meanwhile the north is expected to remain dry.
Queues began forming outside the Wimbledon Grounds 90 minutes before the gates opened at 10am
Excited tennis fans took selfies as they sat down ahead of the start of the tournament on Monday
Fun-loving fans donned strawberry hats in tribute to the favoured snack of the tournament – strawberries and cream
Legendary former German Tennis star Boris Becker (right) is pictured arriving at the 2021 Wimbledon Championships. Left, Andy Murray’s mother Judy makes her way inside the gates
Wimbledon officials are preparing for the return of the tennis tournament and getting ready to welcome an influx of eager fans from Monday.
Historically, all matches have been postponed due to rain but the investment in roofs over Centre Court and Court 1 in recent years means the unpredictability of the British weather is less likely to affect the schedule – although the experience of sitting courtside with strawberries and cream in hand may not be quite the same.
Southern areas will bear the brunt of the rain storms for the rest of the week, including on Tuesday when England go head-to-head with Germany at Wembley.
The resale of tickets inside the Wimbledon grounds is banned this year amid coronavirus, meaning anyone sneaking out to watch the game will not be able to return their tickets.
A source familiar with the Club’s protocol told the Telegraph stewards have not been briefed against allowing guests to watch the football on their phones.
Meanwhile, as doors to the tournament ground opened at 10am each fan has to prove they have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR test as a condition of entry.
Wimbledon fans sheltered under umbrellas as drizzle fell on the courts this morning
Two women protected themselves from the rain under an umbrella as they waited for the tennis to begin
The rain put a dampener on spirits for some spectators as the Championship made a return on Monday
Prepared spectators brought an umbrella with them to protect themselves from the rain on Monday
Those who forgot to bring umbrellas looked less than impressed as they sat in the drizzle this morning
Eager tennis fans queued early this morning for the start of the first socially distanced and covid-controlled Wimbledon
Josh Howells and his eight-year-old son were at the front of the queue. He said: ‘We wee not sure what the queues would be like, so we got here early. It’s is all very well organised. We knew there would be lots of checks before getting in’
Wimbledon fans had waterproof jackets on ahead of forecast rain on the first day of the Championship today
Ticketholders wore masks as they queued to get into the grounds of the tennis tournament this morning
Officials checked ticketholders had a recent negative PCR test before allowing them through the gates
Rain and drizzle: What can Wimbledon fans expect from the forecast this week?
Torrential downpours have been forecast for Wimbledon this week, as the tennis tournament gets underway.
But what can fans expect each day?
Overcast with drizzle at first. Becoming dry during the morning. Showers slow moving and turning heavy or thundery, however sunny spells developing away from this area. Maximum temperature 71F (22C).
A cloudy day with showers, merging into longer spells of rain during the morning. Some sunshine possible later. Maximum temperature 68F (20C).
Wednesday to Friday
Generally cloudy during the mornings, improving by midday with sunnier spells in the afternoons. Dull with outbreaks of rain and drizzle early Wednesday. Occasional showers on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
Source: Met Office
Stewards walked along the line of fans checking they had met the entry requirements before the gates were opened. Once inside other stewards double checked covid status before fans rushed to take their seat.
Mary Blaine, 56, from Erith in Kent, said she didn’t mind the inconvenience of having to prove she had been double jabbed. ‘It really does not matter as long as we can watch the tennis. I am sure there will be a great atmosphere on the courts. We will just be so glad that the championship is back.’
Her husband Adrian, 60, added: We’re back at Wimbledon, what more needs to be said.’
Josh Howells and his eight-year-old son were at the front of the queue. He said: ‘We wee not sure what the queues would be like, so we got here early. It’s is all very well organised. We knew there would be lots of checks before getting in.’
Many of the fans were hoping to see Andy Murray on what is tipped to be his last Wimbledon as the players are driven to the Championship by coach from a central London hotel this morning.
Last year’s finals were cancelled and this year’s matches will have a capacity of 21,000. The men’s and women’s finals will have full capacity of 15,000 on Centre Court.
But the approach will be similar to during the 2018 World Cup, when fans were allowed to be scanned out and back into the grounds.
SW19 pubs are expecting to be heaving on Tuesday evening, with many saying they are ‘fully booked’.
Tomorrow’s order of play is expected to be confirmed later today, when fans will find out which players will be on the court at the same time as the football.
Meanwhile, many supporters around the country, particularly in the North, will be able to watch the Euros 2020 game in the sunshine.
But senior meteorologist for the Met Office Steven Keates said ‘there’s a reasonable chance of rain which could be heavy, at least at times, during the game’ in north London.
A court is covered before the start of play on Monday. The Met Office weather warning, which means ‘be prepared’, was brought in last night as the Met Office has said ‘scattered torrential thundery downpours may bring some impacts’
Wimbledon officials are preparing for the return of the tennis tournament and getting ready to welcome an influx of eager fans from Monday. Pictured, the courts are covered
Wimbledon’s courts are covered to protect them from the weather ahead of the opening day of the tournament
Historically, all matches have been postponed due to rain but the investment in roofs over Centre Court and Court 1 in recent years means the unpredictability of the British weather is less likely to affect the schedule
The resale of tickets inside the Wimbledon grounds is banned this year amid coronavirus, meaning anyone sneaking out to watch the game will not be able to return their tickets
The team faced similar conditions when they played Scotland in the group stage of the tournament two weeks ago when they drew 0-0.
Fans gathered at the stadium next week will be hoping the deluge does not mean a washout for the Three Lions who are in for a tough test against their rivals, despite being the bookies’ favourites to win.
Despite the drizzle, temperatures will be balmy throughout with the dial expected to reach 19C in time for kick-off.
From Wednesday onwards there will be pockets of rain which will ease, with it becoming dryer and brighter as we head into next weekend.
Mr Keats said: ‘For the rest of the week it looks as though high pressure will stick around, influencing the weather over much of northern and central Britain and Ireland, but southern England, and particularly the South East, will remain at risk of further showers.
‘With a broadly easterly flow, North Sea coasts will often be cooler and sometimes cloudier, with the best of the sunshine and the warmth in the sheltered west.’
The Met Office alert said: ‘Persistent rain, heavy and possibly thundery at times, will move across southern and southwestern areas of England and parts of south Wales through Sunday afternoon, persisting into Monday morning, before easing.
The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) will allow ticket holders to exit and re-enter the stadium ahead of the match at 5pm so they can join football fans in nearby pubs. Pictured, courts are covered to protect the lawn from the rain
Meanwhile, the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for large parts of the south of England that are at risk of thundery storms in the coming week. Pictured, preparations are well underway for the start of the tournament
The foul weather comes as Wimbledon ticket holders are told they can watch tomorrow’s England vs Germany Euro 2020 match on their phones as long as cheering is kept to a minimum, despite concerns seats will be empty at kick-off
SW19 pubs are expecting to be heaving on Tuesday evening, with many saying they are ‘fully booked’. Pictured, fans at Vinegar Yard in London for the match between England and Croatia on June 13
Southern areas will bear the brunt of the rain storms for the rest of the week, including on Tuesday when England go head-to-head with Germany at Wembley (pictured)
From Wednesday onwards there will be pockets of rain which will ease, with it becoming dryer and brighter as we head into next weekend. Pictured, the central court now has a roof to protect it from the rain
Britain’s Andy Murray is placed on an order of play board ahead of the start of the tournament
Officials were pictured walking through the rain under umbrellas as preparations continued for the tournament
Wimbledon workers filter into the tournament grounds as the order of play board was set up this morning
’20 to 40mm is likely to fall quite widely across the area but a few places could see 60 to 80mm over this period, including 15 to 25mm within an hour. Such totals may cause travel disruption and some flooding.’
Ex-BBC and Met Office forecaster John Hammond of weathertrending said: ‘Rain interruptions at Wimbledon are expected. But then we will get a taste of continental Europe’s dome of warm air.’
Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said: ‘High rainfall totals are possible, with a troublesome slow-moving low pressure area near the South of the UK through much of the week. But there are signs high pressure may follow.’
But blue skies are due next week, with highs pushing close to 30C. 28C is shown on forecast models.
The warning is in place until 10pm tomorrow night and the Met Office has warned that poor weather could cause spray and sudden flooding which could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures.
The Met Office has also said there is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds.
The Met Office said: ‘Following clearance of overnight heavy rain, there is the potential for thundery downpours to develop across parts of southern England on Monday afternoon, lasting well into the evening.
‘Where these form, they could prove to be slow-moving and produce large amounts of rainfall, with 20 to 30 mm falling within an hour and perhaps a few places seeing 50 to 60 mm in 2-3 hours.
‘Lightning, hail and gusty winds may prove additional hazards in a few locations.’
No selfies and no tents: Covid dos and don’ts at Wimbledon are revealed
But this year, in the age of Covid-19, that activity has been banned.
Rules of entry to the tournament state that ‘ticket holders shall not approach any competitor for any photographs or otherwise’.
Michelle Dite, SW19’s operations director, said: ‘It’s the right and proper thing to do in this environment. We’ve signed up to be quite an important part of the recovery from Covid. One of the responsibilities is to look after and protect those players and those that come into contact with them.’
The move is one of many strict measures introduced to create what is a called a ‘minimised risk environment’ for the players, officials and spectators.
What a contrast: Fans camped in Wimbledon Park two years ago in the traditional hunt for tickets – but now it’s deserted
The championships, which start tomorrow, have been given the go-ahead after being cancelled last year for the first time since the Second World War. The two-week tournament will be a pilot event in the third phase of the Government’s Events Research Programme.
Overall capacity at the All England Lawn Tennis Club has been cut by half to just 21,000 spectators a day, but Centre Court will still be able to seat full crowds of around 15,000 for the women’s and men’s finals.
The queue for tickets has been scrapped, with all tickets being sold online and fans being held in a virtual queue instead. That means camping at Wimbledon Park to be first in line has also been scrapped.
Hundreds normally stay overnight in the park – across the road from the site – and in 2019 it was packed with spectators and their tents and picnic chairs. Players will undergo ‘rigorous daily testing and monitoring’ – along with the ball boys and girls and umpires.
Housekeeping staff spray seats in Centre Court with a disinfectant. It’s part of the new regime to keep fans safe from Covid
Spectators are expected to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours or full vaccination certification. Visitors aged 11 and older will need to wear masks when moving around. The onsite creche, which has proved popular with many players including mother-of-one Serena Williams, will not be open this year.
Players who would normally rent out luxury homes close to the site now have to stay in a hotel in central London and are banned from venturing out.
They will be in bubbles with their close contacts and will remain so at the hotel, at the club and when they are ferried to matches by the club’s official transport.
Anyone found breaching the strict measures, which prevent players from even popping out for a meal, could face disqualification.