As someone who is still learning all the tennis terminology and still discovering the meaning of break points and tie-breaks, it would have been easy to think that a trip to Wimbledon would be wasted on me. However, I am a sports lover and although I have only played tennis on a few occasions, I was excited at the prospect of going to the world famous championships. Even more so because we had centre court tickets!
I enjoy watching tennis on the TV and like most sports I knew that watching it live would be all the more engaging, if not only for the atmosphere in the stadium. On a world class stage such as Wimbledon there was no doubt I would witness demonstrations of first-rate sportsmanship. While I can appreciate a good game from a poor one and understand the skill and commitment of the players, I did wonder whether if, as a part time tennis enthusiast, I would appreciate Wimbledon fully.
As we arrived at Southfields tube station and started the short walk to the grounds, we could soon see the crowds queuing for tickets. The lines seemed endless and it was obvious some fans had camped overnight or arrived in the early hours to ensure they had the best chance of getting in to the complex. For those lucky enough, like us, to have tickets it was a quick queue through security to get in. (We won our tickets in a ballet via a tennis club; they cost about £100 for centre court seats on Monday 4th July 2016).
Once inside, there was an enjoyable atmosphere with the hustle and bustle of tennis fans hurrying from court to court and the masses relaxing on Henman Hill but it wasn’t uncomfortably busy. There was plenty to see and do: 19 courts with quality doubles, ladies and men’s matches and well as shops, bars, restaurants and other activities to keep everyone entertained. After a short mooch to get our bearings, we headed to take our seats at centre court for the first match of the day: Federer Vs. Johnson.
It appeared that my assumptions before arriving had been slightly misjudged. It wasn’t as overly busy as I had thought and it was well run, which meant there was much less queuing than I’d expected. They even allow you to bring in your own food and drink so you can save a few pennies by bringing your own picnic (don’t do what we did though and take a corked bottle of wine without realising and have no way of opening it!). The atmosphere was great, the staff were mostly friendly and helpful and the whole setup was extremely well organised.
With no point of reference (as it was my first time at Wimbledon) it’s hard to judge how centre court compares with court 1 or 2 but I thought it was a great stand. We were allocated seats in the middle of the stand about half way up, in line with the umpire. The view was perfect; we weren’t so far away that it would have been clearer watching on the TV (as with many large music venues I have been to). Being on centre court also meant we were guaranteed to see matches, as when the rain descended the roof was closed and play could continue.
It was great to enjoy a refreshing drink while watching world class sportsmen and women, playing at a world famous tournament. The skill on show was impressive to say the least and the strength and accuracy of the players was incredible to watch. The fastest serve we saw was an incredible 138 miles an hour, while Richard could only manage a measly 102m/h in the trial area!
After Federer, we were lucky enough to witness another two wins by Serena Williams and Andy Murray. Every single player at Wimbledon is, of course, incredibly talented but Serena Williams was my favourite player to watch. The power of her serve was outstanding and she seemed to command the court effortlessly. It was truly, as someone who is admittedly not the biggest tennis fan, astounding to observe. It was even fascinating to watch the ball boys and girls, who had clearly been drilled to within an inch of their lives. They all performed with great precision and considering their young age, acted very professionally.
The other courts also offered quality matches in both doubles and singles and it was nice to be able to wander freely from court to court watching which ever match you fancied. Aside from the tennis, which is obviously the main draw of the thousands of people who flock to Wimbledon each year, there is also the traditional offerings of strawberries and cream. It wasn’t an option for us to visit Wimbledon and not partake in such a tradition. Of course the prices were inflated, similarly to any large scale event (£2.50 for about ten strawberries!) but the quality was high and I very much enjoyed my strawberries and glasses of Pimms!
As we left to make our way home, it was good to see that tickets returned when fans left the arena, were taken back and resold for charity. A lovely concept which means more people get to share the experience and charities benefit from the resale. I would encourage everyone who is able to, to donate their ticket when they leave (and you can still keep your original tickets as a souvenir if you wish).
Did I enjoy Wimbledon? Absolutely. Not everyone gets the opportunity to watch some of the highest ranking tennis players in the world, play in a world famous competition on centre court. It was well worth the price and definitely an experience I wouldn’t swap for any price the many touts outside would have offered!
Have you been to Wimbledon, what did you think? Was it worth the trip?