Wimbledon fans cite Federer absence for fewer international fans in 2022

Total attendance at the Championships as it returned at full capacity for the first time in three years is down 11% so far compared with 2019
Wimbledon fans cite Federer absence for fewer international fans in 2022

By Laura Parnaby, PA

Wimbledon fans have attributed a lower-than-expected turnout to fewer international spectators due to the absence of fan favourite Roger Federer.

Total attendance at the Championships as it returned at full capacity for the first time in three years is down 11 per cent so far on the last comparable year, analysis shows.

Some 114,573 fans poured into SW19 over the first three days of matches, with 36,603 on Monday, 39,450 on Tuesday and 38,520 on Wednesday.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) told the PA news agency that general ground passes were the only tickets not selling out, with the main courts being fully booked each day.

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Four – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Wimbledon has been quieter than usual as it returns to full capacity in 2022 (Steven Paston/PA)

Officials added that any Centre Court tickets which people had refunded were being resold on the website and bought “immediately”.

Almost everyone who spoke to PA in the famous SW19 queue for on-the-day tickets on Friday mentioned the absence of 20-time grand slam winner Federer and the hundreds of international fans he attracts.

The 40-year-old Swiss player has won Wimbledon eight times but is not competing this year as he recovers from having knee surgery.

Fans also said the cost-of-living crisis and coronavirus are likely to be keeping spectators away.

General view from outside Court 1 during day five of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
General view from outside Court 1 during day five of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Engineer Martin Jeffs, 61, who was queueing with Clive Cummings, 65, after they met on Friday, told PA that in the 30 years he had been coming to Wimbledon, this year was notably the quietest.

When asked what he thought was behind this, he said: “Possibly Roger Federer.

“People came from all over the place to see him – America, Germany, South Africa.

“The crowd used to be mostly foreign visitors, which made it a good atmosphere, but it’s quite down this year.

“Covid might have dropped the crowd a little bit as well.”

Mr Cummings, a retired engineer from Worcester, added that they had arrived on Thursday hoping to secure Saturday tickets – but the queue was so short they could have got in on Friday.

Nitto ATP Finals – Day One – The O2 Arena
The absence of Roger Federer fans has driven down attendance numbers in 2022, spectators have said (John Walton/PA)

Friends Louie Birchnall and Daniel Hill, both 23, also mentioned Federer’s effect.

Mr Birchnall, a student from Ashby in Leicestershire, said: “Last time we were here we got the diehard Federer fans with their country flags, and we haven’t seen that this year.

“Maybe international fans aren’t really present this year.”

He added that the return of the queue after a two-year hiatus due to coronavirus had not been well advertised and local fans may not know about it.

Sue Potter, 65, a legal secretary from Devizes in Wiltshire, said she has been to Wimbledon 20 times and this year is “the quietest one ever”.

She told PA: “Cost of living, Covid have all had an effect on it I imagine.

“We said normally the queue is full of Aussies, and we’ve hardly heard an Aussie accent as well.

“You normally see a lot of Swiss flags when Federer is playing. Obviously we haven’t seen any of them.”

 

Jacek Brudnicki, 35, and his wife Magdalena Stojer Brudnicka, 36, travelled from Warsaw in Poland to see their compatriot Iga Swiatek, who is also the women’s world number one.

They said they believed Swiatek would have a lot of support from Poles living in the UK but they had not come across anyone else who had flown from the country and felt “surrounded by Brits” this year, in contrast to previous years.

When asked if they had noticed it being quieter, Mr Brudnicki, a lawyer attending Wimbledon for his fifth time, said: “Yeah, much.

“We were very surprised.

“We thought we would not be in such a high position in the queue and that we would not be able to get on to Centre Court.

“I feel that it is because Federer is not here.

“My impression was that there were really many of his freaky fans that you could already see people coming here for Federer, because you could see people dressed with his caps, with his logo, and T-shirt and so on.

“Every year it could be hundreds of people who just came for him, and maybe some people didn’t know that the queue is back on because it’s the first time after Covid.”

Wimbledon 2022 – Day Four – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Iga Swiatek in action during her second round match against Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove during day four of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships (John Walton/PA)

Speaking about Swiatek, he added: “There are a lot of Poles here in the UK so she will definitely have a lot of fans in the stadium.

“The majority will be UK residents.

“We’ve mainly met British people, but there are some Polish.”

Ms Stojer Brudnicka, an interpreter, said: “The last time we arrived here in the tent we came at about 10pm, and we got number 2,800 in the queue, in 2016.

“This year, we arrived two hours earlier, but still, we got the number 218.

“Maybe some people are afraid of travelling and Covid is still playing a role.”

She added: “The only way to get tickets for international fans is to stay here in the line who just don’t want to do it.

“If you don’t live here, you can’t buy them, there’s only a ballot for UK residents.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more