6/24/10: London, England
I need to be completely honest with you here. I had no idea Wimbledon was going on until I saw a poster for it when we arrived in London yesterday. But enough about the past… today we went to Wimbledon!
I love sports, and each sport has one pinnacle event that I would love to someday get to. The problem is, each one has a major obstacle I would need to overcome. Here’s my list:
- Football (American): The Super Bowl. Too expensive.
- Baseball: The World Series. The Reds haven’t been good enough recently.
- Basketball: The NBA Finals. Cleveland is jinxed.
- Hockey: The Stanley Cup. Ok, so I’m not all that interested in going to this one.
- Football (Soccer): The World Cup. Too much chance for riots.
- Golf: The Masters. There’s that whole exclusivity problem.
- Tennis: Wimbledon. It’s in London.
Wait… we’re in London! That’s the only obstacle we need to overcome here. Money’s not an issue, because Wimbledon, as I now know, might be the best set-up sporting event in the world. Let me explain.
We did a little research yesterday on how to get tickets, and found out about Wimbledon’s famous Queue. Every day they sell about 6,000 tickets to the grounds, and they do it on a first come, first serve (no tennis pun intended) basis. So we woke up bright and early and got in line this morning at 8am. Upon receiving our Queue cards (no acting pun intended), we discovered that we were numbers 4,743 and 4,754 in line. We told ten jokes to make those around us laugh (no pun in ten did). But no matter, we were going to make it into Wimbledon!
The Queue is extremely well-organized and extremely well-run – you sit in a big open field surrounded by bathrooms and snack bars and newspaper vendors and gorgeous sunshine (yes, organizers even added good weather to this year’s event). And this is just for Grounds tickets – if you want tickets to Center Court, Court 1 or Court 2, you simply arrive at 8am, spend the entire day in the field, pitch a tent for the night and then watch the matches. And apparently that couldn’t be more smoothly run either.
At 9:30 they begin selling the Grounds tickets and letting people in, so by 11 we were standing inside the Wimbledon gates, surrounded by 19 beautiful, historical, British grass courts. So what’s the first thing we did? Said hi to the Queen of England.
Adding to our luck, Queen Elizabeth happened to be on the grounds today for the first time since 1977. A huge crowd was gathered by the path she was prepared to walk down, and her and her entourage (or is it a posse?) walked by I took a picture of every woman there was just to make sure I didn’t miss the Queen. After all, I’m American. I have no idea what she looks like.
But we weren’t done spying on famous people, oh no. Next up was someone the Queen once described as “the person I want to be when I grow up:” John McEnroe.
Other than celebrities, there is another fun thing to watch at Wimbledon: tennis! Today at 3:30pm the Isner/Mahut marathon match was scheduled to resume on Court 18. By noon the crowd had already overflowed out of the stands, so we gave up on getting in. Here’s what we saw instead:
A note about that last match we saw: Bobby Reynolds starred for Vanderbilt up until our freshman year there, and the Bryan brothers are gods of men’s doubles. If you let me pick two teams to play vs. each other out of everyone in the world, these would be the two. It was just too bad that Reynolds and the other dude didn’t put up even a small fight.
The thing that amazed me most about Wimbledon tennis was how much it reminded me of my high school tennis days. Some of these players have made millions of dollars, yet they still carry their own bags to the court and they still go through the same warm-up session that we did. If I would have known this sooner I would have tried harder to actually play here myself!
As it was though, I don’t think I could have had a better day at the most hallowed tennis complex in the world. Zhou, thanks for indulging me here and actually enjoying yourself as well. In return, if you ever want to see that Kirsten Dunst Wimbledon film, I’ll watch it with you.
Picture of the Day: I call this masterpiece “Feet in Air.”