We made it to Wimbledon! My Daughter Beth and I got up at 4.30am on a thankfully dry and beautifully sunny Saturday morning to set out for Southfields to join the people in the park for 5.45 to begin queuing for our ground passes. We were excited about our first ever visit to the all England club. We knew we were going to be facing long queues and sure enough at 5.45am we got our queue card numbers 4415 and 4416. We were now hopeful that we would get in, but very unsure about what time we would be watching tennis from.
It’s amazing that I hadn’t ever made it before considering I had been a long standing fan of Wimbledon since the glorious days of the mid 1980’s. Boris Becker’s debut triumph as a fresh faced 17 year old in 1985 is my clearest and truest first memory of watching Wimbledon. It was magical and thereafter I was hooked.
I remember talking to Mum about the times when she lived in London and she would go to the championships, but for some reason, I have just never got around to making it…. Well good things come to those who wait, and 31 years after watching that magical championships, and 6 hours after joining the queue on Saturday 2 July we made it to the entrance to the ground to pay our £25 to get in for the day.
We had prepared well for the queuing with lashings of food, reading material, games and balls to pass away the time, as well of course as the obligatory picnic rug which we planned to also use later that day to sit on the hill/mount to watch Andy Murray.
The excitement and buzz we felt as we stepped in and began to walk around was immense. First up we got to Court 17 to see Mahut v Herbert (who eventually would go on to win the Men’s doubles together) in a rain delayed/rescheduled 3rd round match. But not before we had stocked up on Bon Bon’s that were delicious and would go on to make our mouths very blue! The two things that we noticed were the lushness of the courts and the speed of the serves. It was wonderful tennis, until the rains came!
After several frustrating hours of covers going on, and off and on and off again, we and the tournament officials gave up and as the roof went on Centre Court we headed for the iconic hill to watch Andy Murray’s 3rd round match. Beth loved it as I let her go off and buy us bottles of coke to refresh us and keep us awake after our early start. The atmosphere was wonderful and so was the tennis, and it was great to be in the moment enjoying it all.
After a set and a half, the rains relented, the outside court covers came off and we decided to venture to the other side of Centre court and check out some play on the outside courts. We saw Leyton Hewitt in an epic doubles match, some fantastic female and male doubles and as we began to queue for Court 12 to see Del Potro play we followed the Murray score and more amazingly the unexpected defeat for Novak Djockovic at the hands of Sam Querry. A huge cheer and gasp rang out when Querry won that one.
We soon gave up queuing for Del Potro and instead headed for Court 3 to see an amazingly high quality Ladies singles match with Radwanska. We had great seats and after a set we moved to the back, enabling us to watch Del Potro and other matches from a distance. It was a beautiful and magical moment, basking in the evening sunshine and witnessing some really great tennis.
As the sun was setting we began to head to the exit gates, happy but feeling tired. It was time for a Strawberry Sundae…. and then we would be heading home… The Sundae was delicious, but then we were unexpectedly handed tickets to Court 1 by two very generous ladies who were heading home for the day. We smiled, wolfed down the rest of our pudding and charged to the court!
Unfortunately we arrived at the start of the Kygrios v Lopez tie-break, and despite our best pleading efforts they would not let us in and so we missed it. They did let us into the court but the light had faded and the chair umpire called end of play for the day. We were so close, but like the day itself, it was magical and wondrous to be inside Court 1 and just take it all in.
We absolutely loved our first visit to Wimbledon, we have got the back and we want to go back for sure!
And so It’s 2 down and just a mere 38 to go for me in this year of experiences to celebrate being 40 in 40 ways. It’s been a great start, bring on the next one!