I used to watch Wimbledon on television as a child (back in the days when John McEnroe and Tracy Austin were playing) and dream about attending the championships. Back then I didn’t even know that Wimbledon was an actual district of London full of houses, shops and people - I just thought it was a tennis court complex! But now I’m all grown up and know differently, I live not all that far from that iconic place. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the Ladies’ Semi Finals on Centre Court the last two years in a row.
There is a lot more to the Wimbledon championships than the just the tennis, although of course tennis is their raison d’être. Having learned from our experiences last year, we made it a point to arrive early yesterday, in time to wander round the grounds while everything is still quiet.
It’s such fun to watch everything slowly get busier, and at 10.30 am, everyone makes an orderly entrance walking in a haphazard queue behind the security staff into the main part of the grounds. It’s an amazing atmosphere, with bands playing and beautiful flowers everywhere, even on the stairways! Kiosks sell champagne, pitchers of Pimms cocktails and strawberries and cream.
We like to have lunch at The Wingfield Restaurant located on the first floor of the Centre Court building. If you are lucky enough to sit by the windows, as we did, you get a view of everything happening below - great if you like people watching! Wimbledon is part of the London season, and you see some wonderful outfits on both the ladies and the men. And you never know who you might see wandering through the crowds.
The Wingfield offers a three course lunch including wine and water for £60 (you have to book and pay in advance) and their food is just wonderful. I’m going to write more about it on The 21st Century Housewife’s Kitchen. Wait till you see the photographs of their delicious dishes! As the Wingfield opens at 11.15am, you have plenty of time to eat before play starts at 1pm, and if you have Centre Court tickets as we did, you are only minutes away from your seat.
Tickets to Wimbledon are not easy to get, and to have the opportunity to purchase many of them you have to enter a ballot. If (and only if) your name is chosen you are then offered two tickets for a specific day and a specific court. This year I was very blessed not only to have my name chosen in the ballot, but also to get pretty amazing seats. We were only five rows from the Court itself, behind the press photographers and so close to the play that we were actually shown on television on several occasion - sadly usually when I had a rather odd expression on my face (it was exciting tennis!) or when the sun was in my eyes!
It was such a privilege to be so close to the play and the tennis was fantastic. The first match between Vera Zvonareva and Tsvetana Pironkova had everyone on the edge of their seats all the way through and the match between Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova that followed was no different. It was far from an easy road to victory for the winners, Zvonareva and Williams, who will go on to the finals on Saturday. I hope there is time this weekend to watch that match on television!
Yesterday was a great day for celebrity spotting as well, with Colin Firth and Terry Wogan in the Royal Box and several other prominent British entertainers and broadcasters including Trevor McDonald and Cliff Richard in the audience. And guess who I saw commentating on the sidelines for the BBC - Tracy Austin and John McEnroe! The little girl in me was absolutely thrilled.
My husband and I had a wonderful day at Wimbledon, and I hope and pray we are successful in the ballot for tickets again next year. It really is an experience that is not to be missed. To find out more about Wimbledon, go to the official website by clicking here.
The 21st Century Housewife was not paid or compensated in any way for this post. I’m just a huge fan of the Championships at Wimbledon.