I’ve been working on retro-blogging my past travels, but haven’t made it all the way back to my 2006 trip to London yet. However, today Wimbledon begins, and I thought it would be appropriate to do a post about my own Wimbledon experience several years back.
I don’t write about tennis often because, of the regular readers I have, I strongly suspect that about .05% of you care about tennis in the crazy way I do. Which is to say, none of you care. Nonetheless, it’s my favorite sport, and it also happens to be the only sport I follow (outside of obsessively watching the Olympics every two years). One of my life goals is to attend all four Majors, and while you would think it would be easiest for a girl from the US to start with the US Open, I’ve never made it to that one. But when I studied in London for a summer, I knew the one thing I absolutely had to do was get to Wimbledon. And get there I did.
This might sound strange, but visiting Wimbledon was honestly one of the coolest days of my life. I started super early, standing in line and “queueing” with the masses to get a grounds pass. I think I arrived around 7am, and there were still hundreds of people in line in front of me! It’s intense – people camp out overnight in tents. Once I got into the grounds, it was amazing. I saw a few matches on the show courts, including ones played by Justine Henin and David Nalbandian, among others. For the uninitiated, those are two pretty awesome players, and that’s one of the cool things about getting a grounds pass in the first week of a Slam – you see all kinds of good match-ups on the outer courts for a super low price. This might sound silly, but I was most stunned by how fast the players were hitting the ball. It blew me away to see up close; those guys are powerful.
I partook in the traditional Wimbledon treat, strawberries and cream, which, to be honest, isn’t that great (it’s the cream…ughhh). But it felt like a requirement, so eat my strawberries and cream I did.
I also spent a fair amount of time wandering around the grounds. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is impeccable, as you would expect. Classily dressed people, beautifully manicured flower beds, the works. One of the things I love about Wimbledon is that it has such a rich history and tradition, and you can really feel that when you’re strolling around the grounds.
And in the afternoon, I sat on Henman Hill with the British fans and watched Andy Murray’s match. That was one of my favorite parts of the day; I’ve seen them cut to Henman Hill so many times while watching on TV that it was surreal to be there myself. Plus, it’s just fun to be out amongst the rowdy crowd – everyone gets really into the match.
So, yeah, all in all, one of the better experiences I’ve ever had. I know that the next time I find myself in London in the summertime, I will go again. And even if you can’t visit Wimbledon in person this fortnight, make sure to watch, because the matches are always compelling. And also, vamos Rafa.