I'll start off by saying I am a tennis lover. I do not know whether my love of tennis began because of Wimbledon or my love of Wimbledon began because of tennis. Suffice to say, I think tennis lovers, spots lovers and lovers of life in general should put a visit to Wimbledon (during the annual Tennis Tournament) on your list of things to do before you die. No, really. Do it.
I would prefer not to give you this advice seeing as the tournament is incredibly busy already anyway, but I shall because it is simply so very good. Even if you have been to the other tennis slams or to the masters events, the atmosphere and experience of Wimbledon is unique.
Yes it can be expensive (pack a lunch and drinks and take them in with you. Note: no hardsided picnic cases are allowed in - see website for details) and, yes, the queue for grounds passes is daunting. If you are not lucky enough to get tickets in the annual ballot then don't fear braving the queue - it will all be worth it. Having said that, make sure you come very very early in order to get in with the first wave of people admitted when the gates open or you could find yourself waiting until mid afternoon. Even then, play continues until it is dark (say around 9pm) and I do believe the majority of people are glad they stuck it out because by the time they got inside the grounds and experience that heady buzz inside, they've already forgotten the hours they spent in the queue. (Note: The queue is very well managed by plenty of helpful stewards. You will be issued a queue-card with your number on it so you can leave to use the toilets or to buy refreshments and then return to the same spot.)
The facilities and grounds are impeccable and flawlessly run, the food delicious, the staff are wonderfully helpful, the players are passionate and intensely focused, the spectators are excited and happy. What more could you want? Even a rain delay is an event in itself (and it doesnt often affect play as much as you might think.) You will be able to easily while away the time in one of the many cafes and bars and enjoying the tremendous buzz around the place.
Things to do:
Visit the practice courts for a chance to get a close up glimpse of top players. Have some strawberries and cream. Keep your eyes peeled for the Williams' sisters family at the cafes and for players being escorted to and from courts by security personnel, buy your kids a big fuzzy tennis ball and send them in search of autographs, sit on Henman Hill and watch a match on the giant screen while enjoying a picnic, enjoy the faster paced action of a doubles match, keep an eye out for the next star of the future in the juniors tournament that runs in week 2...
Wear comfortable walking shoes - the grounds are large. Bring a hat as it can get very sunny. Bring a light raincoat or a layer or two in case it gets breezy or drizzles. Tune your ipod to Radio Wimbledon to keep updated on the action. In the first week there are wonderful matches on the many many 'outside courts' (which are the none show courts: centre, 1 and 2.) However, if you are absolutely determined that there is a particular match on at a show court that you simply MUST see and you do not already have tickets for a show court, there is a ticket resale queue where you can purchase a ticket (all proceeds go to charity) at the top of Aorangi Terrace (AKA Henman Hill to most of you.) Tickets go on sale at 5pm but I would recommend queuing from 3pm onwards to ensure you get a ticket pretty much as soon as they go on sale. I would recommend this only if there is something you simply must see, otherwise there is plenty else going on for you to enjoy.
(1) There is a left luggage facility if you do have large bags. Detailed descriptions of that and other facilities/rules/restricted items can be found on the website.
(2) The nearest station is Southfields tube station (and not Wimbledon Tube and rail station as newcomers may think)
(3) If you do not have a ticket the only way to get one is to join the queue. Do NOT go to the ticket office hoping to get a ticket. They will not issue one.
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