Author: Shirley Wong
“Show me a garden that’s bursting into life.”
-Snow Patrol (from “Chasing Cars”)
Mike used to compete in local tennis tournaments in his youth. I find watching him watch tennis on TV is entertainment in itself. Like a butcher methodically slicing up a carcass, he dissects each player’s game aloud, tossing each organ into a giant pile as he goes.
I think he is a bit of a tennis oracle. Many times he’s been on point about what a player should do next to win a point – and the player has done exactly that right after.
Comments keep coming like pop-up video thought bubbles. Encouraging Mike: “Come on, move in, move in, you’ve got this.” Bossy Mike: “OK, go down the line. Don’t go out wide.” Disgusted Mike: “What are you doing? You had that point. That’s it. You’re done!” I’ve always thought he would be a good tennis coach because he has an instinct for what a player should do in a certain situation.
Wimbledon starts next week, which has brought up memories of our 2011 visit to Wimbledon for the first time. Seeing this legendary tennis tournament in person is as much a lesson in tradition and history, as it is about the sport.
Here are our favourite parts of Wimbledon, in no particular order:
1. Queuing up for tickets
Buying tickets for Wimbledon isn’t too difficult. If you have money to burn, you can buy special packages online through tour guides and get good seats.
But if you’re like most folks, your goal is to just get into the event and not spend too much on tickets. We mailed a ballot for a lottery system that gives people a chance in a draw to buy a good seats, randomly chosen by a computer. It was futile because we didn’t win the draw, and we wouldn’t recommend it.
So we lined up for Grounds passes on Day 1, which is the most economical deal (around $45 CDN at that time). It allows you to watch any of the matches outside of the major courts (Centre, No. 1 and No 2).
The Grounds open at 9:30am but we got there around an hour earlier. There was already a huge line because many people sleep overnight to try and get premium tickets on the day of play. Everyone is handed an official Queue Card which shows your place in the queue and is a nice souvenir too.
Lining up is a neat experience. It’s part of the tradition of Wimbledon. As we’ve mentioned before in another post, many Brits attend Wimbledon annually as Vancouverites go to the PNE.
2. Milos Raonic
When we get our tickets, Mike quickly scans the Order of Play board which shows where players will be playing. He finds Milos listed under Court 14 and we’re running there to get good seats. It’s amazing how far Raonic has come in the last few years. It would now be unlikely we could watch him play on one of the smaller courts.
It was a highlight being able to watch Milos just a few yards away. We remember being shocked at two things: a) How tall he is and b) How fast his serve was. He did end up winning the match and moving on.
3. Henman Hill (or Murray Mound)
Wimbledon is really not complete without finding a spot on the grass to eat lunch and watch some tennis on the big screen outside Court #1. We grabbed some fish and chips, plus strawberries and cream, to watch Rafael Nadal play. We don’t remember who Rafa played that day, but does it really matter? It was Rafa that everyone wanted to see.
Rafa also easily won and moved on.
4. Wimbledon Lawn & Tennis Museum
This trip is not complete without a visit to the Wimbledon Lawn & Tennis Museum. It was one of the most impressive parts of this visit and should not be missed.
Did you know there have been only five championships since 1922 that did not have rain? So it rains here a lot.
We were lucky that the whole day was sunny and warm, except for the evening when it just poured. We were sitting in our seats, waiting for a match to begin, when they said there would be a rain delay.
Then they quickly got to work covering the courts with tarps. It was extremely efficient. Mike reluctantly followed me to check out the souvenir shops to wait out the rain.
By the way, their shops have an outstanding selection of everything you could imagine with the Wimbledon logo: don’t miss this chance to shop.
6. The beauty of detail
Wimbledon is special in that they pay attention to every detail. For example, purple, white and green are the theme colours and they take care to carry it throughout the grounds. Staff are consistently friendly and courteous, as if you were guests in Buckingham Palace. The feeling is that they are here to serve you. It’s tennis Disneyland.