For two weeks every summer, up to 500,000 people descend on Wimbledon for its world-famous tennis tournament.

Locals living close to the All England Lawn Tennis Club hear the cheers of the crowds from their homes and say the area “comes alive” during the fortnight.

Residents don’t mind sharing their relatively quiet area of South West London with thousands of tennis fans with some even planting flowers in the Wimbledon colours and having street parties with their neighbours.

Wimbledon Times: Wimbledon is back at full capacity for spectators this summer for the first time since 2019 (photo: Tara O'Connor)Wimbledon is back at full capacity for spectators this summer for the first time since 2019 (photo: Tara O'Connor)

Tennis fans arrived at the Church Road club on Monday, June 27 for the first day of the grand slam tournament.

It was the first time since 2019 that crowds are back at full capacity after Covid cancelled the 2020 competition and limited crowds in 2021.

The area around the club was buzzing with activity beforehand, with staff working hard to prepare for competition, which marks the centenary of Centre Court and the club’s move to Church Road.

To celebrate, the middle Sunday, which is usually a rest day, will be a permanent part of the tournament for the first time.

Free tickets for the day have also been handed out to locals.

Local woman Renee Martin, 70, said work on assembling the site starts two months before the competitions.

She said: “It doesn’t bother us because we have become used to it. It gets busy but it’s nice.”

And Richard Higgs, 58, said the tournament is one of the best things about living in Wimbledon.

Wimbledon Times: Richard Higgs with his dog sparkle said there is a buzz in Wimbledon when the tournament happens (photo:: Tara O'Connor)Richard Higgs with his dog sparkle said there is a buzz in Wimbledon when the tournament happens (photo:: Tara O'Connor)

He said: “It’s one of the main reasons to live in Wimbledon. There is no real disruption and it’s only two weeks a year. You see all the people approaching and the village really buzzes.”

He thinks the expansion of tennis club onto a nearby golf course would be great for the area, although not everyone agrees.

He said: “I fully support the change of the golf course. Wimbledon Tennis is the number one taxpayer in Merton, if they need to expand I think it is important for the area.

"We can’t access the land at the moment. They are going to make it available to walk around the place. Things have to move forward, it is a world class venue.”

If approved, the club would span 67 hectares between Wimbledon and Wandsworth.

But the plans have faced opposition with more than 1,000 public complaints and 30 letters of support.

The AELTC wants to build 39 new grass courts as well as an 8,000-seat “parkland show court” and says this would mean qualifying matches of the tournament could be moved from Roehampton to Wimbledon.

Part of the land would also be opened up as a public park.

Aparna Shankar said: “We love the championships, the area comes alive.

"It’s lively, fun and a great atmosphere.

"We do our flowers in the Wimbledon colours and we’re planning a street party.”

But the 48-year-old said the one thing she didn’t like about the two weeks was the diversion of the 493 bus down Church Road meaning she has to drive to collect her children from school.

While she is not totally against the AELTC’s plans to expand the club, she thinks it needs to consider parking near the new public park.

She added: “It would be nice to have a park on our doorstep but what the AELTC doesn’t take into consideration is parking and the impact on the local area. The expectation is for people to use public transport but it isn’t realistic and without a car park they will go into the local area.”

A 51-year-old woman, who recently moved back to the area from abroad, but did not wish to be named, said: “I grew up in Wimbledon but have never lived this this close, last year was the first one since we moved and it was much smaller so it will be quite interesting. 

"Growing up it was fun living in Wimbledon, you could go down in your school uniform and be let in, you wouldn’t get that now.”

Wei, 37, who lives opposite the AELTC said: “It is just two weeks a year so it doesn’t bother me too much.

"It is a good atmosphere, I can hear the cheering from my house. Most people round here seem to enjoy it.”

In past years up to 10,000 people have queued up for ground tickets, including some who camp overnight.

"After the two year break, similar numbers are expected this year.