My thoughts on the Wimbledon experience, and some of the highs and lows.
Officially it’s been the wettest and dullest June in the UK since weather records began. I don’t think I’ve been rained on as many times in my whole life as I have in this past month. I’ve become so good with rain I almost feel English, except I’ll never be able to follow the complexities of the weather forecast.
The super light, super water-proof, wind-proof and everything-else-proof raincoat that I bought in anticipation of Wimbledon has proven to be one of my greatest investments of all time.
My raincoat is the GIOAT.
I never go out without it.
As an aside I’ve also gotten used to having no power points or light switches in the bathroom. It’s something to do with safe use of power. Yet it’s OK to press a switch in the shower to turn on the electric power shower. And it’s also OK to have lawn mowers that run on an electric cable that’s flopped out an open window. Go figure.
Aside from the weather, and the jumping through hoops required to get tickets which I’ll mention later, Wimbledon is pure class all the way.
The customer service
From the minute you enter the grounds, the service from the staff is impeccably polite and helpful; especially from the armed forces who act as stewards. While serving their country they’ve also had time to appreciate and understand tennis, so they act quickly to get people in and out of seats efficiently at the change of ends, and they enforce good spectator etiquette.
These things add to my enjoyment of a tennis tournament.
And should a public disorder incident occur I would feel quite confident following their guidance.
The Wimbledon crowd, buoyed up by strawberries and cream and a cheeky Pimms, is generally good-natured. They clap respectfully, don’t feel inclined to do the wave while waiting out a rain delay and like to make friends with their nearest seat neighbours.
The lack of injuries
For whatever reason my impression is that there seems to be way less injury retirements and illnesses at Wimbledon than at other slams. I can’t recall any this year, other than Radwanska getting sick from the chilly conditions, but she still played on like a trooper.
The grounds looks beautiful all decked out in floral hanging baskets which create the feel of an English country garden. As there are plenty of staff too the grounds are really well maintained. No overflowing rubbish bins or messy stuff on the walkways. The toilet queues are relatively short and move fast which is important when you’re trying to get back to your seat before the next change of ends.
These things also add to my enjoyment of a tennis tournament.
I’ve heard that the Wimbledon grounds are bigger than Roland Garros (please leave a comment if you have more specific details about the size of the grounds) but in contrast to Roland Garros, where you need to stand in a main walkway to watch one of two big screens, Wimbledon has Henman Hill, where hundreds or maybe even thousands of people can settle in for the day and watch the big screen. Not only is Henman Hill a great place for fans to watch a match, it means they aren’t walking around the grounds so it’s less congested for those who do.
Aside from Henman Hill there are benches with tables throughout the grounds where it’s relatively easy to get a seat if you want to relax and dig in to your snack pack.
There are restaurants and cafes with plenty of seating which also make a good place to shelter from the rain.
The clearly defined colour scheme of Wimbledon also makes it unique. The white outfits of the players are always classy, as are the Ralph Lauren designed, Wimbledon coloured uniforms of the lines people, ball kids and umpires. And there are no sponsor logos to break up the white/green/purple/navy colour scheme.
One of the things that I love about the Australian Open is the entertainment. Top bands perform each night and seeing them is included in the price of your ticket. I’d never want that to change that but for variation, there’s something great about the fact that everyone at Wimbledon wants to watch tennis.
A great Wimby thing is that tickets can be resold if you aren’t able to stay until the end of play, with all the resale money going to charity. Because the tickets are so beautifully designed you’ll be tempted to keep them as a souvenir, but you can still get the bar code scanned if you’d like to keep your ticket while offering your seat for resale.
In the local area, Wimbledon Village gets right into the swing of things, with promotions, big balls in shop windows and pubs showing matches on lots of screens. And there are big screens around London where you can go to watch the matches.
Aside from the weather the toughest thing to deal with for Wimbledon is getting tickets, especially when you’re used to the straight forward process of buying tickets online for all the other slams. Granted that the French Open takes some planning to get online at the right time, but you are able to buy tickets well in advance of the event.
Over the course of several months before Wimbledon we spent a lot of time researching ways to get tickets and strategising over which tickets to try to get, which courts etc etc. Given the Wimby weather, Centre Court tickets are the holy grail because it’s possible for play to continue under the roof when it rains.
We put in a ballot application for tickets.
Tried to get tickets in the Australian Open member’s ballot.
Tried various other avenues to get tickets.
Then a friend offered a Court 3 ticket for the first Wednesday.
Success. The first ticket secured.
From the Saturday before the tournament started we were online a lot of days at both 9am and 12pm, trying to get tickets for the next day, or returns for the day after.
I was prepared to queue if necessary but fortunately, due to quick fingers and the ability to accurately read the squiggly letters that prove you’re not a robot, our time online paid off with Centre Court tickets for Day 1 and Court 3 tickets for Day 4 and 8.
I have the greatest respect for everyone who queues for Wimbledon tickets, especially those who camp overnight. But I can’t help wondering how long the queue can last as a system, as people become more and more used to the ease and convenience that the internet provides. Given that British people are probably the best queuers in the world, I guess only time will tell.
Once you get some tickets and effective wet weather clothing sorted going to Wimbledon is all class. From the big things, to the smaller details, and everything in between.
What has your experience at Wimbledon been like? Which parts did you especially like?
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal
Hi, love your blog! Like yourself, I was lucky enough to go to Wimbledon this year too. Absolutely loved it, except the queues and crowds on the outside courts (especially court 18) were a bit annoying. Entered the Australian Open member’s ballot and scored 2 x centre court tickets. So relieved that I didn’t have to queue for some! We’re so lucky at the Aus Open that tickets are so easy to purchase.
In my opinion Wimbledon is the best venue for being able to watch tennis on a big screen.
According to the 2012 French Open programme the area of the grand slam venues is as follows:
Roland-Garros 8.5 hectares
Flushing Meadows 14ha
Wimbledon and Melbourne Park both 20ha
Liz Curran says
Wow, I had not seen the actual sizes before. I knew RG was the smallest but I hadn’t realise quite how much smaller it is.
Re big screens, I love the hill at Wimby (increasingly called Murray Mount/d) but it only shows one match usually centre. I would love them to include a second viewing area which showed other matches as there are often great matches on No 1 court as well.
The hill is lovely and a lot of fun but overall I would give AO the advantage because of the number of different big screen venues – Garden Square, The Heineken oval area, the screen by Hisense and I think there are going to be even more soon by MCA? I think having that variety is great for groundspassers like me.