We were very pleased to get tickets to attend the Wimbledon Championships again this year, this time on the second Saturday, ladies’ finals day. My husband and I always enjoy Wimbledon – the atmosphere is quite unlike that of any other sporting event, or even major tennis tournament. You are quite likely to see famous faces from the past Wimbledon tournaments, either in the crowd or commentating on events for various television networks round the world, and it is very likely you will also recognise others from politics or stage and screen as well.
Wimbledon crowds are out for a good day, and the myriad champagne bars and vendors selling strawberries and cream make sure that everyone is well watered and fed. The Wingfield restaurant also serves a three course lunch before the first matches on Centre Court, or high tea later on in the afternoon. As we had Centre Court tickets once again, we ate at The Wingfield. You have to book and pay months in advance for the lunch, but it is well worth doing, as you are seated high above the grounds around the edges of the Centre Court building, so you can watch all the folks walking by. We have always been lucky to get a table right by the edge, looking over the champagne and jazz bar.
It’s such fun watching the crowds. Dress varies from super casual shorts and t-shirts to beautiful ensembles, some even complete with hats. Very few men wear ties as it can be so hot, but there are often some really interesting blazers among the more well dressed attendees.
Play on Centre Court started at 2pm, and we had great seats, just a few rows up from the net. We also had a good view of the Royal Box.
Guests in the Royal Box on Saturday included the Duke of Kent, actress Anne Hathaway, Condoleeza Rice, tennis greats Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, and Jana Novotna and politician Nick Clegg among others. Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour was also elsewhere in the crowd. As always, she looked utterly immaculate.
The final was short, but the play was fierce. Wimbledon crowds are notoriously fickle, but I would have said the crowd this time was cheering for Maria Sharipova. I, only the other hand, was cheering for the underdog, Petra Kvitova. To be honest though, I would have been very happy to applaud either as winner as they both played such an amazing match. I was secretly pleased to see Kvitova lift the coveted plate though – and even shed a few happy tears, she was so transparently delighted to win, and in front of her idol and former countrywoman, Martina Navratilova too.
Sharipova was an incredibly graceful loser, but as the world’s highest paid sportswoman (earning in excess of $24 million last year), she can afford to be!
We stayed on and watched the men’s doubles final, which was also an incredibly well fought match. The American Bryan brothers won, and were congratulated by the Duke of Kent in the Royal Box.
By then it was quite late, so we wandered back through the grounds to the car park. There were still the ladies’ doubles finals to go, so we surrendered our tickets as we left. They are then re-sold at a lower price, and the proceeds are given to charity. People queue for hours for these tickets, referred to as ‘returns’.
A day out at Wimbledon is always a delight, and I really hope that we will be able to return again next year, when the tournament will be held from 25 June to 8 July. Wimbledon will also be hosting the tennis tournaments for the London 2012 Olympic Games from 28 July to 5 August.