Wimbledon the Ultimate Tennis Destination
I love tennis – that’s for those of you who don’t know me. If I’m not playing tennis I’m watching it!. While TV is typically where I watch tennis, occasionally I get to go to a tournament and watch it live. I’ve been lucky enough to go to a few different tournaments now, one of them was Wimbledon.
I’ve been to Wimbledon many times but often viewed through different goggles. From going in my mid teens to my more mature years I’ve learned a lot about the game, mostly because I started playing myself.
My love for tennis probably came from my Mum. I always remember Wimbledon being on TV and she would be watching it with great interest so I naturally watched too. I remember watching players like McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Edberg and Becker and quickly gained a love for the sport. I was very much unaware of other tournaments at the time, I thought Wimbledon was it. So every summer, for two weeks, Mum and I would avidly watch some great tennis. As I reached my teens I started playing at school for the short summer term, I wasn’t very good at all but despite that I was talked into playing at a local tournament in Hunstanton where I lost badly and don’t particularly remember it fondly.
My first trip to Wimbledon followed a few years later and this boosted my love for the sport, how couldn’t it, to be that up close and personal with the players, the courts and the game at THE most prestigious grand slam, it was a very exciting day. My friend Paul and I went down to London for the day, we went early of course so we could get in The Queue, as it’s now officially called. Back then you only needed to get there early the morning of, not the night before to camp out. I can’t remember what time we arrived but we waited for the gates to open for a couple of hours at least. I have some pictures to remind me of how beautiful the day was, the weather was perfect, we had seats on court no.1 and we saw Edberg play Becker. I can’t remember who else we saw but it wouldn’t have mattered if we saw nobody else besides those two. We took a break for some strawberries and cream which wouldn’t be complete without a little champagne. I have quite a vivid memory of Becker walking right past me as we walked around the grounds, how exciting was that.
Since then I’ve been to Wimbledon on three other occasions, all very different. One year my Mum and I treated ourselves to some great seats, about 8 rows back on a corner of court no. 1. By this trip I had been playing tennis for about 5 years so I was very familiar with the game and had a much better appreciation for what it takes to play at that level. It was great to sit so close to the players where you can hear every ball they hit come off their racquet and know whether they hit a flat ball, a spin ball or even a miss hit! You get so much more appreciation when you’re that close and that applies to any sport I’m sure.
The next time I went my Mum and I told the kids, Tom and Elle. I think Elle was about 14 and Tom about 17. Tom is a tennis player but not Elle but she gladly came with us to see what all the fuss is about. We had good seats again that day, I think we were about 14 rows back, again on court no.1 and about at the service line. It was a very hot day and we all struggled with that but hey, we were at Wimbledon and being treated to some fabulous tennis. I remember a few of the players we saw this time, the Williams sisters, Sharapova and Djokovic, not bad eh?
The last time I went I took Kevin, my husband, it was only last June that we went, the first day of the tournament, it was Kevin’s first time to a Grand Slam and it was something he was very keen to do. We lucked out with the weather, it was a superb ‘tennis’ day. We were allocated seats on court no.1 from the tennis club we belonged to. We entered the Wimbledon ballot through the club and got lucky. We travelled down on the train and then the tube and walked the rest of the way to the club alongside everyone else. There’s just floods of people who head down for the day, not counting the queue which is lined up on the other side of the road each day.
We took our first picture just inside the entrance, outside Centre Court near the beautiful ivy that grows on many walls. Next we tried to see who was playing on the practice courts but those are next to impossible to get near so we gave up quickly. Instead we walked deep into the grounds, walking by all the beautifully manicured courts, watching the players warm up for their matches and taking in the beauty and nostalgia of Wimbledon. We eventually took a bench seat right next to an outside court, near the umpire, where we watched a couple of guys duke it out on a somewhat slippery court. It’s interesting how much you miss when you’re watching any tennis tournament on TV. Firstly you miss what the player has next to his chair! Each player has their own set of bags packed with everything needed to get through a match – several pairs of socks, clean shirts, extra racquets, grip tape, dampeners, drinks, energy packs – you name it, it’s in their bag. Secondly, you can hear what they’re saying to the ball girls and boys – “Water please” – and what they’re saying to the Umpire which is often the most entertaining, they seem to mostly just ramble on at the umpires, not really saying anything but just arguing, as if it’s a way to keep their mind off the score.
Later we took our seats on Court no.1 and really enjoyed the whole atmosphere. We couldn’t really see the ball or the players as well as on the outside court we sat at earlier but these seats weren’t about that, this was about the atmosphere, the people, the strawberries and cream – oh and the Pimms. We wandered around to the shop and bought a hat, as you do and we went back and forth several times between our seats and some of the outer courts. We planned our day out based on who we knew, who we wanted to see and which matches we knew would be good. Before we knew it the day was coming to an end, we were tired from an extremely relaxing day, some good food and several Pimms! It was a lovely summer’s evening walk back to the tube station and a ride to Kings Cross with lots of other worn out, sunburnt but content folks who’d enjoyed the same wonderful day that we had.
It’s just an amazing day, whether you enjoy tennis or not, it’s one of the most famous sporting events and one that’s steeped in tradition. You can’t help but get caught up in it all.