Wimbledon 2021: How is the tournament taking place and what are the restrictions for fans?

Tennis championship returns after being cancelled in 2020

In the run up to the Wimbledon tennis championship reporter Tim Stickings and I visited and interviewed locals to guage the feeling ahead of the competition. As tickets went on sale none of the usual crowds of fans could be seen at the Wimbledon tennis club.

The Wimbledon tennis championships return this year after they were cancelled in 2020 for the first time since the Second World War.

Some Covid-19 restrictions are still in place but the return of players and fans is a relief for locals after the struggles of the past year.

Organisers this week unveiled plans for how many fans will be in the grounds and what rules they will have to follow.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10:  Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy from the members balcony infront of supporters following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

How is the tournament going ahead?

The UK's successful vaccination programme and subsequent lifting of restrictions has allowed this year’s tournament to go ahead with fans.

Spectators can return before the final lifting of restrictions because Wimbledon is part of a UK government pilot programme for major events.

Organisers hope to fill 50 to 75 per cent of seats in the earlier rounds and hold the semi-finals and final with 100 per cent capacity.

Players will be staying at official hotels in what is known as a “minimised risk environment”, rather than booking out private accommodation in London.

What Covid restrictions are in place for fans?

Proof of full vaccination will be enough for fans to enter the Wimbledon grounds if they received their second dose at least two weeks earlier.

Alternatively, they can show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within the previous 48 hours.

People will have to wear masks while moving around the grounds but not when sitting in their seats.

Organisers are yet to confirm whether fans will have to wear masks in the big-screen viewing area known as Henman Hill.

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03: Tennis fans wait in line at the public queueing zone outside the All England Tennis Club on July 3, 2017 in Wimbledon, England. Thousands of tennis fans queue for tickets as the first day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships gets underway. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

How are tickets being sold?

A first batch of tickets went on sale online on Thursday. Fans had to register by midnight in order to access the ticketing site.

Wimbledon organisers say there will be further opportunities to buy tickets, including during the two-week championships.

The traditional on-the-day queue of fans who camp out for hours to enter the grounds will not be taking place this year.

Fans who bought tickets for the cancelled 2020 tournament will have a chance to buy seats for the same day and court in 2022.

Are all the top players coming?

In the men's tournament, three of the four perennial Wimbledon champions of the past two decades – Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – are taking part.

The fourth, Rafael Nadal, announced on Thursday that he would not play at Wimbledon or the postponed Tokyo Olympics because of fitness concerns.

Giants of the women’s game who are due to play at Wimbledon include Serena and Venus Williams, Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep.

Naomi Osaka is not taking part after pulling out of the French Open last month in a row over media commitments.

Has the prize money been cut?

The total pot of £35 million ($49m) has been cut by five per cent since Wimbledon last took place in 2019.

This was blamed on the costs of keeping players in bio-secure facilities and arranging a comprehensive testing programme for players and staff.

The men’s and women’s champions will each receive a £1.7m jackpot. Qualifying for the first round is worth £48,000.