Tennis in the early 50’s

We were at school in Wimbledon in the early 1950’s. During the fortnight when we could, we would cycle up to Somerset Road, padlock our bikes against the railings on the other side of the road from the Main Gate and then stand outside looking hopeful. Around 4.30 many people would leave; very often they would pass their tickets to us. If they did not they might give them to the gate keepers.The gate keepers were not permitted to pass tickets straight to us, but there was nothing to stop them dropping them nonchalantly on the ground from behind their backs! We would grab them and would then be allowed into the grounds, even though one half had already been used for that purpose. In this way we often got tickets for Centre Court or No 1.

When it came to Finals Day, we organised a plan by which we managed to get hold of Complimentary Tickets or tickets for No 1 courts where in those days only the plate matches and junior matches were played on the last day. The ticket holders queue formed just over the road from the Main Gate and a group of us would take our place there at about 9.30am armed with our packed lunch etc. When the gates opened at midday we would rush straight along to the Centre Court Standing Room East to take up residence there. Our reason for choosing the ‘sunny’ side was that there were usually fewer people that side and some were liable to pass out in the heat. We would stand there for the whole of the duration, for if we were to move from the area our places would be taken up by those queuing hopefully outside the Standing Room.

We were also able and allowed to hang around the steps down from the Players’ Dressing rooms and speak to them and ask for autographs.
 Things were very much more relaxed and low-key in those days.

Barbara Tyman and Marion Stewart.

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