With Wimbledon 2012 underway in London, I thought it’s an ideal time to reminisce my experience at the Championships last year.
It’s been a year but the memories from Wimbledon 2011 are still fresh in my mind like it happened just yesterday. Having the luxury of staying just 10 minutes away from the All England Lawn Tennis Club (aka All England Club) in Wimbledon, I left my apartment much later than I should have. Around 7 in the morning, I joined hundreds of other fans at the Wimbledon Park in queuing up for tickets and entry into the Wimbledon Championships 2011. Come Wimbledon Championships and the sprawling Wimbledon Park opposite the All England Club is converted into a huge parking/queuing/camping space. There were people who had been camping at the park from the night and even days before!
After three and half hours of queuing in the sun, passing strict security checks and about 10 cups of coffee, my friend and I finally reached the gates of Wimbledon and shrieked with excitement! We purchased the ground tickets which give us access to courts on ground but do not allow access to Centre Court, Court No. 1 and Court No. 2. Nevertheless, we were thrilled to get our hands on the tickets and decided to savor every moment of the day ahead of us.
It was day four of the Championships and there were several exciting matches lined up including celebrated tennis players like Roger Federer, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna and John Isner. My friend and I decided to spend some amount of time each at the more interesting matches apart from roaming around the Club and of course, taking lots and lots of pictures! Since we had limited access, the Centre Court, the main court at Wimbledon seemed like a dream; so near yet so far. However, little did we know that a wonderful surprise was in store for us later in the day.
After watching Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza in action during the Men’s and Women’s Doubles respectively, we headed to the food court and gorged on mouthwatering fish and chips. I was also looking forward to partake in an old Wimbledon tradition of eating strawberries and cream. Well, it really is just delicious British strawberries served with cream but the feeling of living a tradition in one of the most legendary places in the world was simply marvellous.
While we were still relishing the strawberries and cream, our surprise was getting ready to unfold. Wimbledon operates a ticket resale system where Centre Court tickets whose original price ranges from anything between 50 to 300 Pounds, are re-sold for as cheap as five Pounds! These tickets were being sold at the ticket counter close to the Aorangi Terrace in Wimbledon, which was easily a walk of about 15 minutes from where we stood. But let alone walking, we rushed like we were running for our lives and joined the long queue (yes, another one!). We were running out of time as the match between Swiss legend Roger Federer and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino was less than 30 minutes away. After much anxiety, biting of nails and getting drenched in the rain, we finally got the tickets and ran (again!) towards Centre Court. Few minutes later, after being escorted to our seats, it finally hit me that I was sitting in Centre Court and watching Roger Federer in action. The feeling was out of the world and I could not believe my luck. The beautiful grass court and the mighty structure that is the Centre Court just took my breath away. “Come on, Federer!” I joined in the cheering crowds while my friend was sitting beside me, awe-struck, with her mouth half open.
The icing on the cake was when the retractable roof began to close, a 10-minute procedure during which play is suspended; a fascinating sight indeed. The match ended in Federer’s favour (of course!), after which we made our way out of the Club; tired and exhausted but happy beyond imagination.