This is a guest article by local Wimbledon fan @lizcurran She shares the things that she loves most about Wimbledon, the only grass court grand slam tournament.
I’m British so I have to talk about the weather!
This year we were blessed with a more than average number of gorgeous hot sunny days through the whole of the short sweet grass court season.
This makes a lot of difference, particularly to those visiting Wimbledon on grounds passes since it is only Centre Court that has a roof. My abiding memories will be of glorious perfect summer days watching tennis, often in the company of my tennis enthusiast friends, who like me make a habit of attending our local grand slam tournament as often as possible.
We did of course have some rain delays, notably middle Saturday when play only started properly at 6pm once the rain showers had passed. But the visitors maintained a remarkable cheerfulness as they patiently sat out and munched and drank their way through a long rain delay finding various places to shelter around the grounds. The newly renamed Murray Mount (formerly Henman Hill) was full of hardy souls huddled under their umberellas and waterproofs to watch Nadal V Kukushkin playing on Centre Court, under the roof, on the big screen.
One side benefit of these rain delays was that I was able to watch, from close quarters, the court being dressed for play by the hard working grounds staff and in doing so I noticed for the first time the stunning beauty of these wooden and brass net posts at close quarters.
A downside for the players is that along with the spectators, they also get cold while waiting out rain delays.
But when the sky clears, the twilight time at Wimbledon is beautiful.
The Honorary Stewards
The honorary stewards bring a unique feel to Wimbledon. They are strict on proper etiquette – eg feet are not allowed to be rested on the seats in front and you can only move from your seat at the change of ends. However they are very fair, very courteous and very helpful and they contribute enormously to the smooth running of the tournament.
Many of them have worked the tournament for many years. This adds to my feeling of there being one big happy tennis community and it makes me feel at home even on days when I attend the tournament alone as I see familiar faces around The Queue and the grounds.
Practice on Court 4
This year in the second week of the tournament many of the big stars, including Federer and Djokovic practiced on court 4, in the middle of the grounds, rather than on the more secluded Aorangi practice courts at the far north of the site. There is seating for around 150 people around this court and many more can stand and watch.
I haven’t seen this in previous years and I thought it was a nice touch to allow more fans much better access to watch practice close up. I saw Novak Djokovic leaving court after his practice on the Saturday before the Final and he was thronged by fans. I think he enjoyed walking through the crowd like film star and the fans were definitely happy to see him. Great move Wimbledon I say.
Ticket resale scheme
Perhaps the best thing about Wimbledon is the ticket resale scheme which enables tickets of those who have left the grounds early to be resold for charity. It means that the empty seats are filled with people who really want to be there who perhaps couldn’t get tickets or maybe couldn’t afford the original ticket price.
Stewards have told me that they love it when the resale people start to come in at around 5 or 6pm because the atmosphere changes dramatically and becomes more lively and enthusiastic. I am very grateful for the matches I saw via this scheme this year including the amazing five set men’s doubles final. I really wish that the other three grand slams would consider introducing something similar.
Finally I love how the whole local area embraces the tennis. There is a great buzz around Southfields and Wimbledon village. On my second day at the tournament I exited the tube and met a man who was organising the taxis from Southfields station to the grounds. He was a burly chap and he had dyed his short cropped hair lime green to look exactly like a tennis ball. He even had the white lines and a black Slazenger logo on the back of his head. I really wish I had asked him for a photograph because it was one of the most striking things I saw all tournament. Sometimes you just have to get your camera out.
Anyway here are a few pictures to show how the area embraces the tennis over the fortnight.
And a few queuing pics
Note from GSG: Once again I’m forever grateful to Liz for taking the time and energy to share her love of Wimbledon and the experience of being there.
I loved reading this article and looking at the pics, and based on my experience in 2012, I loved similar things to Liz. I hope you enjoyed it too.
Having tennis peeps around at tournaments, and on social media when you can’t be there, only adds to the enjoyment and awesomeness. If you’re considering attending tennis events in other parts of the world, definitely get on Twitter and meet the other serious fans like us. That’s where I met Liz and we ended up completing the fan slam together and have become life long friends. Tennis fans rock and so does Twitter for meeting them – Mel