Rackets at the ready please!
Summer is officially in full swing now that Wimbledon has hit our television screens. (Yes, I know, terrible tennis puns are unnecessary.) Coverage from the prestigious All English Lawn Tennis Club for the next two weeks will focus on world class players, the underdogs, shock early exits, which this week included Rafael Nadal, celebrity spectators and of course, strawberries and cream.
Last year after my final exams, myself and two of my friends headed over to London for a mini holiday. On the third day of our trip we decided to hop on the tube and head out to Wimbledon. The tennis club is about a fifteen/twenty minute walk from the tube station so be prepared. Along the way there were Evian reps giving out free water and companies distributing free strawberries and cream sweets, which were delicious! For those of you who planning to go to Wimbledon on a whim, here is what to expect.
Queues, Queues and More Queues
If you don’t have tickets, try to get there as early as possible. When we arrived at the “No Ticket” gate around 10 am we were greeted by a not so friendly young blonde attendant. She informed us that it was “cash ONLY” from here on in. The nearest ATM was a good walk away so make sure to have cash with you. None the less, there is a great queuing system in place. The attendants even handed us a “Guide to Queuing”! The queue begins at the edge of a field and curves right the way round. Eventually, after you walk up and down the field numerous times you reach another entrance. Naively we thought that this was the entrance to the grounds. This point sees the beginning of a long walk up to the grounds. Along the way there are more freebies including sweets, juice and water. We were also reminded numerous times that it was indeed, cash only. After two hours of queuing we reached the security checks.
Note: The free blister patches we were given further back were not allowed in. After a quick climb up the stairs we were finally there. It was worth the wait!
Tickets and Where To Go
Once you begin to see the roof of centre court and the exclusive roof dining areas the boring queuing atmosphere dissolves and the buzz of Wimbledon replaces it. The ticket office wizz you right through. Once leaving the ticket area you are free to roam the glorious grounds, including gift shops where you can buy, towels, programmes, hats, even used balls. Naturally we headed straight for strawberries and cream stand, which were surprisingly cheap at £2.50 each.
Henman Hill has a great atmosphere if you’re interested in watching the games on centre court. There are multiple courts that you can view games without tickets but if you want a seat you need to be there early.
What to Bring With You
As we were completely unprepared for our outing I’ve compiled a list of a few essentials that I wish I had brought with me.
- An Umbrella, a Light Coat, Sun cream and Sunglasses. The weather is always unpredictable so I would highly advise preparing for all eventualities. When we were queuing to get into the grounds it was cloudy and quite cold. Once we reached the courts the sun was splitting the rocks. Later on in the day it began to drizzle. Typical English summertime weather!
- A blanket, drinks and food. If you haven’t got a ticket it’s most likely you will be on the Hill watching the action. We regretted not having brought a picnic with us and a blanket of sorts to sit on. The grass can be quite damp up there. While there are benches they’re usually full. There is no more free water once you get inside. You can buy food inside but if you have a good spot, you won’t want to leave it. Food also comes in handy when you’re queuing. There are burger and concession stands but at 11 in the morning we didn’t feel like burgers.
Despite not having the majority of what I’ve mentioned above, Wimbledon was a fantastic day out. There is so much to see and so many strawberries to eat! If you are making a trip to Wimbledon I would advise that you don’t go on a day that a British player is on court. The man ahead of us in the queue last year told us that the queues are twice as long and they often close the grounds when they’re full.
Make sure to look out for the ball boys and girls around the grounds. They walk around like little ducks in a row. If you’ve had the chance to experience Wimbledon, make sure and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.