This is Wimbledon tennis season, the holy grail for any tennis fan. For years we’d been dreaming about making a trip to England to see it. We arrived here too late to get in the lottery for tickets (back in December), so the only way were were going to do it now was to join the famous “Queue” and do Wimbledon on the cheap!
We left the house at 5am, in order to be first in line at one of the few close-in parking lots. We looked into taking the train but it was actually cheaper to drive, even at the price of 25 pounds for the car park. At about 6:30 am we arrived at our place in The Queue, the immense line for grounds tickets each day:
We were given a card with a number that showed our place in line. We had numbers 2024 and 2025. That meant there were over 2,000 people already in line! Hundreds of people camp overnight there because each day there are only several hundred tickets made available for seats in the actual stadium courts (where all the big names play). The basic Grounds ticket just got us onto the grounds and the lesser courts. Sometimes people wait all morning in this line and still don’t get in!! So we were glad we got there really early just to be sure.
Still in the line, but about 3 1/2 hours later:
We are almost there!! The turnstiles are just beyond the end of the long roof in the center of the photo.
When we got in to the Wimbledon grounds, we had to wait yet another half hour or so, before they opened access to all the tennis courts. At that time, we fast-walked over (nobody was allowed to run, it was all very orderly and civilised!) to Court 3, which was the best court that had unreserved seats you didn’t have to buy a ticket for:
We got really good seats, about 4 rows up from the court. This was only the 2nd day of the 2-week Wimbledon tournament, and the grass on all the courts was pretty well untouched so far and looked just lovely! (We told ourselves we have to find a tennis club that has grass courts, just to see what it is like to play on them.) We had to wait about another hour for the play to begin at 12 noon. We saw the #4 women’s seed and a few men’s matches (including Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas) here.
After a couple hours of that, we got up and wandered around. There were 18 tennis courts and all had matches going on. We watched some men’s doubles, and then made our way up to the top of the hill above the center, called “Murray Mount” this year:
They name this hill with its picnic lawn after whichever British player is the new Great White Hope for winning Wimbledon. A Brit hasn’t won it since the 1930s or something like that. Previously it was called Henman Hill (for Tim Henman), and now it is named after Andy Murray, who actually has a pretty decent chance to win it this year. Grounds ticket holders sit there and watch the matches going on in Centre Court on the big screen TV.
At the top of Murray Mount, you could see the skyline of London, oooh aaah!
I have not yet been in to London, can you believe it?? We are having such fun learning our own local area out here in the “country” (as a Londoner we met in the stands called it) that we haven’t got round to London’s vast offerings. Plus we’re kind of saving things like the museums to do this winter when the weather outside is bad!
Late in the day, they have this program where anyone holding a ticket to one of the stadium courts can turn their tickets in as they leave for the day. The staff then turns them around and re-tickets those seats to sell to grounds ticket people who are willing to wait in yet another line, for just 5 pounds. We were winding down from interesting matches to watch at about 4 pm, so we decided what the heck let’s go stand in the line.
Andy Murray was playing his first match so the Mount was packed with people and Centre Court was also packed. They told us the hope of getting a ticket was slim because so many locals would want to see Andy. His matches will be THE hot ticket for the whole time as long he lasts. But wonder of wonders, at about 5:30 the line started to move and WE GOT CENTRE COURT TICKETS!! And even more fortunately, the Andy match was only in the 2nd set because he was playing a young American who was actually making him work! We ran down, and then we could NOT believe the amazing seats we were given. They were only about 10 rows up from the court, on the side!! Heaven! Two seats in that area for the whole day would have been hundreds of pounds at least.
Here’s a photo of the brand new close-able roof of Centre Court. The day was stunning and not a cloud in the sky however. Weather-wise, it was like we were back in Boulder!
Here you can see how close our seats were to the court:
It was just amazing to be there. The acoustics must have been super because when everyone quieted down during play, you could hear the players talk—it was that intimate. John MacEnroe was doing the play commenting for the BBC in the press box. (When we got home we watched video highlights of the match to see if we got on camera, but we didn’t.) 😦
Below, a very giddy Paul:
This was a dream come true for him since he first picked up a racquet. Even moreso than I, who never played tennis until I met Paul—and then I caught the tennis bug from him. (Before then, I couldn’t imagine anything more stupendously boring than watching tennis. I think you do have to play it to really appreciate it.)
In all we got to be in Centre Court about an hour and a half I think. We were completely thrilled! And the guys sitting next to us (in their business suits—it was quite the formal crowd) must have seen how elated we were—like little kids—because on the way out one of them gave me his official program, a big glossy book you have to pay for. We left feeling like our day was more than we could have ever wished for!
My thanks to all my “horsey” friends for putting up with this posting—our family and tennis friends will understand at least!!