WIMBLEDON, England — It was nearing 10 p.m., and Richard Hess, an 81-year-old American, was sitting inside his small tent and merrily preparing for his latest sleep-deprived night in the Wimbledon queue.
“You caught me blowing up my mattress,” he said, poking his gray-haired head out of the tent and offering his visitor a seat in a folding chair.
Hess is an Anglophile from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., who memorized the names of all the English monarchs beginning with William the Conqueror before his first visit to Britain. He has a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and played the California junior-tennis circuit at the same time as Billie Jean King. He has been queuing at Wimbledon since 1978: first lining up on the sidewalks for tickets and then, beginning in the early 1990s, camping out overnight with hundreds of other tennis fans in the quest for prime seats on Centre Court and the other main show courts.