Military personnel at Wimbledon
Sport

Wimbledon And The Military

For civilians, gaining entry to Wimbledon often means long queues in the lashing rain or sweltering heat. However, there are a few members...

Military personnel at Wimbledon

For civilians, gaining entry to Wimbledon often means long queues in the lashing rain or sweltering heat.

However, there are a few members of Britain’s Armed Forces that get to walk straight in.

More than 300 military volunteers work as stewards at Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, each year.

The now well-established tradition of military stewards manning gangways on Centre and No. 1 Court (below) began after World War Two.

Wimbledon No. 1 Court

Left badly damaged by German bombing during the war, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was offered the services of the Armed Forces in 1946 in order to get back on their feet. 

Nowadays, Armed Forces personnel have to use part of their allocated leave to steward at Wimbledon.

Competition for places, however, is almost as fierce as that taking place on the courts themselves - with the opportunity to work at such famous courts difficult to ignore for many service personnel.

In 2015 Warrant Officer Class 1 Mark Hannibal was part of the team in charge of the service stewards:

"For some, they're absolutely top of the world when they find out they've been chosen. They’re overwhelmed a lot of them, especially those who are first-timers and... didn't believe they could do it... I think the main thing is them realising that they're going to be at Wimbledon."

The Metropolitan Police and military personnel work together to create not just an effective team, but one that has long proved popular with the crowds watching the action on the grass courts of SW19. 

According to Leading Seaman Stuart Linnahan: "Wimbledon for me is a bit of tennis, but it's also a chance for me to stand there and let the public see me."

WHAT ARE THE DUTIES?

  • Helping the public get to their seats
  • Ensuring the welfare and safety of the crowd and players 
  • Keeping members of the audience well-hydrated
  • Ensuring mobile phones are switched off during play

More: 16 British Sports Stars You Didn't Know Served In The Military