TENNIS fans queued in their thousands outside Wimbledon’s famous courts over the weekend to be the first into this year’s championships, given extra weight with the upcoming Olympic tournament, also to be held at the SW19 club, later this summer.

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Given the never-ending rain so far this summer, Wimbledon looks to have struck lucky with the weather, with forecasts for this week generally dry and sunny, though showers are set to pepper London off and on.

First up on Centre Court today to launch the 2012 edition of Britain’s premier tennis event is defending champion Novak Djokovic (pictured), who faces unseeded Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.

One of the first fans into Wimbledon was Sue Callaghan, 59, from Surrey, who told the Press Association: “We got here at about 10.30am yesterday morning.

“We managed to get our tents up before the rain. I’ve been coming for 39 years, I come every year.”

Others have come from further afield, including Jim Krokal, 63, who flew in from Nebraska, USA, just to catch the tennis.

“The four majors [Australian, French and US Opens and Wimbledon] are on our bucket list,” Kozal is quoted in The Mirror as saying.

“We’ve been to the US Open, but that was the easy one. This is my first time at Wimbledon – it’s a great experience. It’s just the atmosphere, it’s so great, you just want to be a part of it.”

Wimbledon has a long tradition of organising the queue for tickets and makes available “several thousand” each day to those prepared to camp overnight or turn up very early in the morning. Full information on the queuing process can be found at the official site.

In contrast, the Olympic tennis tournament, which starts on 28 July, is an all-pre-booked affair, so the queues will be absent. But, queues apart, the traditional feel of Wimbledon, strawberries and cream and all, will still be in evidence, despite fears of over-commercialisation.

“We’ll have the Olympic rings and London 2012 as the logos on the canvases, but that’s the only branding,” said Clare Wood, the woman in charge of organising the Olympic tennis.