Just inside the main foyer of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, not far from the trophy cases and the frosted doors that lead to the competitors' entrance to the Centre Court, is a polished wooden box that contains an electronic digital counter.

This little mechanism is not as famous as, say, the quotation from Kipling that is inscribed over the doors through which the players pass: "If you can meet triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same . . ."

But it is a fascinating bit of Wimbledon just the same. For every time a spectator passes through the turnstiles of the All England Club during the tournament, the glowing red numerals of "the clicker" record their presence.

The counter clicked 38,267 times today, 23 short of the one-day record attendance of 38,290 set on the corresponding day of last year's Wimbledon.

That, however, told only half the story. For every spectator who paid his way into Wimbledon today, there was another outside who didn't make it.

At 1:30 p.m., a half-hour before play began, police estimated that there were 60,000 people in line, trying to get tickets.

At 2:30, when the gates were closed for the first time with 30,861 customers already in the grounds, the queues of would-be ticket buyers were two mles long.

Sources of enthusiasts, despairing of even getting inside, climbed up the outside walls beside Court No. 6 to settle on precarious perches.