All around you people are sipping on Champagne, delicately nibbling on gourmet sandwiches and tucking into their Strawberries and Cream. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a Garden Party but alas no, this is a sporting event, this is Wimbledon.
This was my 3rd time at Wimbledon but my first since I was 15 and unable to appreciate the more grown up elements of this famous venue. I began by exploring the vast grounds, taking in the Wimbledon shop (very expensive), the Champagne and Strawberries kiosks (even more expensive), the Food Court (surprisingly reasonably priced) and the numerous ‘outside courts’ where play had already started. Jamie Murray was in doubles action on Court 18 and I managed to find a space on the terrace that overlooks the court where I could see approximately 40% of the action (arriving after the match had started wasn’t my greatest decision ever).
After about half an hour of watching Murray I decided to head into Court 1 (where I had tickets) after getting some refreshments. After delighting in what appeared to be a price of £2.50 for a Stella, I found to my surprise that Wimbledon price things in half pints (sneaky devils). After some grumbling I handed over £5 for my pint and away I went.
The first match on court was Roger Federer against Tommy Robredo. Federer is a unique talent in the world of tennis. Whilst the full blooded styles of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have their own merits, nothing quite matches the experience of watching Roger glide around the court swishing his racket at the ball with such delicate strokes. Robredo was no match for the Swiss man who barely broke a sweat (does Federer ever sweat? I don’t think I’ve seen it) in a straight sets victory.
Next up on court was Lucie Safarova vs Ekaterina Makarova (no, me neither). I took the break in between matches as an opportunity to return to the Food Court for some lunch. I decided to sample the Nachos and after some extensive queuing and after reluctantly purchasing another pint (£5!), I found myself looking up at the scoreboard’s to find that Safarova had dispatched of Makarova in less than an hour. I’d missed the entire match.
Never mind, I thought to myself, the Williams sisters are playing doubles next, that should be a good game. I think this sentiment was shared by many as I returned to a busy court to see the sisters begin their warm up. It was clear from early on in the warm up that something was wrong with Serena. She was dropping balls all over and had countless swings and misses. A crueller man may have concluded that she looked drunk but after some consultation with a doctor she decided to play on. After 2 games in which numerous errors had led to the Williams losing both, Serena stepped up to serve. 4 double faults later and the match was over. Serena having to retire with an undisclosed illness.
After that farce I decided to go to the Aorangi Terrace, or as it’s better known Henman Hill (or Murray Mound) (or Rusedski ridge? Maybe?). I treated myself to another pint, don’t know if I mentioned but it was £5! £5 for a pint, daylight robbery (I’m a northerner by the way). This was when I really appreciated what a unique sporting event Wimbledon is. The sun was shining, I had a pint in hand, people all around me were popping bottles of Champagne and tucking into picnic hampers, wildcard Nick Krygios was beating Rafael Nadal on the big screen in front of me, the atmosphere was amazing. This is the life, I thought. This is what Wimbledon is all about. Yes, it’s expensive and yes, it’s frequented by the elite of society and yes, it’s £5 for a pint (£5!) but it is at heart a brilliant sporting venue exhibiting a brilliant and very unique sport.