While the tennis improves annually, the access doesn't
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Wheelchair, Powerchair, Mobility Scooter
Access to Wimbledon is generally good and many other sports bodies could learn from them. However, the problems that do exist - which are very real ones - remain the same year after year. This is despite the All England Tennis Club employing the Queen Elizabeth Foundation to carry out an annual access survey, with the stated intention of continuous improvement. Problems begin with the ballot rules. While non-disabled people can apply for a pair of tickets, wheelchair users can only apply for one ticket. This comes with a free companion ticket, which is great if your partner is non-disabled and also provides any personal care needed, but is not so good if you are both wheelchair users. Then the only way you can enjoy the tennis together is to leave support workers outside the ground, and for one of you to leave your chair or scooter - if you can - and walk into the seats.
Transport & Parking
There are no accessible stations near by, yet Blue Badge users receive no discount on the official carpark charge of £25 if booked in advance of the Championships opening, or £30 cash on the day. Despite the high charge, access within and from the carpark is highly problematic, with a mud and gravel track that wheelchair users share with cars, and which is particularly steep and uneven at the top. There is no pedestrian crossing and no stewards assigned to the road, which makes crossing over to the ground frightening and dangerous. However, a buggy service does operate within the carpark.
Over the past few years we have visited courts 1, 2 and 3 and have found the view from the wheelchair spaces to be very good. However, the signage for accessible routes around the ground and accessible facilities could be better, and neither the workers on the information stands nor the forces volunteers had been briefed so couldn't help us.
The toilets are Radar-key operated, which cuts down on misuse, but queues are still common. The 'accessible' toilets vary in size, and the entry to the sole accessible toilet on Court 1 is off the corridor to the rest of the toilets which makes getting in and out and waiting problematic. When I visited the emergency cord had been tucked behind the pipes, so I left a Euan's Guide card explaining how it operated and needed to be maintained.
The forces volunteers and AA carpark workers are courteous and very helpful. However, we found the G4S security staff to be rude and disabilist, telling me I "should have a carer with me" when I asked for my bag to be searched on my wheelchair because I was unable to remove it independently. They also told my companion that she should not be in the grounds on a scooter without a 'wheelchair ticket', although the access guide recommends bringing a manual chair or scooter to people who have difficulty walking long distances, and provides some spaces by the courts where these can be left.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
If you have mobility needs but aren't a wheelchair user, be aware that access to the rest of the seating is via steps with no handrails, and that the paint marking the edges of the steps is low-contrast and hard to distinguish. The seats have no arms which can cause difficulties getting in and out of them. Assistance dogs are allowed but there is no 'spend' area, which means owners have to leave the ground and cross a dangerous road to use the carpark. It is also difficult to see where a dog would sit - I leave mine with a PA - as space is very tight.