Wimbledon

Court 18 Went to Wimbledon on Saturday. The complex is absolutely amazing. It's just enormous. Centre Court, where the biggest matches are played, is so large that when the 15,000 people inside applaud you can't even hear them from outside the court building.

When you arrive you get into a very long queue (unless you're rich/famous enough to already have a ticket). I got to the grounds around 10am with the gates opening at 10:30. The gates opened promptly at 10:30 with a very British sounding woman saying over the loudspeaker, "Queue attendants, please prepare for the opening of the gates."

Queue Card, Guide, and Ticket for Wimbledon

When I first got into line queue I was handed my Queue Card and a 40 page pamphlet entitled "A guide To Queueing For The Championships." You can't make this stuff up people. As you can see I was 742 in line that day. They apparently sell a couple thousand ground tickets, so I got in very easily.

Once I was inside the gates I walked around for a bit, mostly looking at the giant schedules of play and tournament brackets. I walked through the Wimbledon store. Well, one of them, that is. There's got to be at least six or so throughout the complex.

Wheelchair Tennis

Eventually I headed over to court 14 where the first match at that court was a doubles wheelchair tennis match. Having never seen wheel chair tennis I grabbed a front row seat and watched the first set. It's pretty interesting, though a bit different from regular tennis. They play double bounce, the first bounce has to be "in" on the court but the other can be anywhere. Before the serve all of the players are behind the baseline. I'm unsure if this is a rule thing or just the ideal position. They play a lot from the baseline, though occasionally they'll rush the net. Rather than facing the ball head-on like you or I would they tend to hit it facing the ball at rather odd angles. There was a lot of spinning and behind the back hitting going on. It was interesting enough to watch for one set, but after that I decided to go try and find some regular tennis. Also, the match start at noon and I could feel my skin burning off while I sat in my seat.

After wandering around a bit and buying a Pepsi (which, like Coke, is no good here) I happened to find the Member's Only entrance to Centre Court. There was a bit of a crowd outside so I stopped and waited to see if anything was going to happen. A few people asked me who I was waiting for. Each time I would respond, "I have no idea... I just saw the crowd and stopped" and the people around me - who were already there - said basically the same thing. It was unclear if anyone there really knew that something was going to happen. It was eventually decided that this was the VIP entrance, but no the players' entrance.

"Ben! Get to the point! Did you see some celebrities?!"

Denise Lewis

Heck yeah I did! And did I ever! I saw Virginia Wade and Denise Lewis! I linked to their wikipedia pages because like you, I had no idea who they were!

Later I was walking between Centre Court and the Player's Lounge and saw a tennis start who I didn't recognize giving an interview and I saw who may have been Pat Cash! Had to Wikipedia that one too!

So that was the celebrity excitement.

Court 18

I later went to see a girl's doubles semifinal match, which was pretty good. To be honest, that was the most exciting tennis I saw at Wimbledon. The first set looked like it might be close (ended 6-4) and the 2nd set was fairly quick (6-1) but it was fun to watch. The match took place on the same court where John Isner (notice no Wikipedia link here) won his epic three-day match.

Henman Hill

After the doubles match I walked over to Henmen Hill to watch the Ladies' Final. The place was packed, it was actually a really fun place to watch the match. It looked like a lot of people got there early and set out a spot. There were some picnic tables but lots of people brought blankets. That and their ice-bucket with a bottle (or two) of champagne seemed to get them through a day in the hot sun.

I didn't manage to get a picture of it but the Southfields underground station (the closest to Wimbledon - Don't go to the Wimbledon stop, that's farther way) was decorated to look like a grass tennis court which was really cool. It put you right into the Wimbledon mood, if such a thing exists, from the moment you stepped off the train.

More of my photos from Wimbledon are here.