Having grown up in a sport-loving family, and my mum being the chair lady of our local tennis club, it’s no surprise that the two weeks of Wimbledon are the highlight of my sporting calendar – an opinion, I may add, often mirrored by the professional tennis players good enough to play The Championships. It is the one that many dream of winning. The drama and emotion displayed on the lawns of the All England Club is what makes Wimbledon so exciting to watch.
I remember my first time at The Championships. After losing many hours of the day to the queue, being teased by the regular thwack of ball on racket and the roars of the Centre Court crowd, I made it in around 4:30pm. This was much to mum’s annoyance as the entry fee goes down after 5. Walking through the Wimbledon gates for the first time is something I will never forget. It’s like the air is different in there; like an electric current is passing through the courts, like travelling back in time to the days of Downton Abbey. There are hoards of people who have queued for hours, some overnight, bustling about between courts wearing home-made support items and face paint. Then there is the Members’ Enclosure, where the women have on their best dresses and the men look rather dapper in their suits. It’s a huge spectrum of tennis fans present on each day, but this only adds to the amazing atmosphere. Every person will have had their own experience, and made their own memories watching the tennis from such different perspectives – and that’s not even taking into account the millions of people watching from home.
Each viewing platform has its own perks. Watching from the sofa is definitely more comfortable than trying to stop yourself slipping down Henman Hill – which is surprisingly steep! Also, picking which match to watch is a lot easier to do with a remote in hand as opposed to navigating through the crowds; you can enter your chosen match at anytime (not just at the change of ends) and you don’t have to climb over other people to get to the last available seat, although this last part still sometimes applies in my house. The only limit on the noise you can make at home is how much everyone else is willing to put up with, so feel free to shout at the TV. Also Pimms and strawberries with cream are far easier to access when they’re just down the hall in the kitchen, especially when younger siblings or family members can be cajoled into getting them for you.
Something I usually take for granted when watching from the sofa is the slow-motion replays. You can really appreciate just how fast the ball moves when you watch professional tennis live. If you’re sat near the net you can guarantee a sore neck from looking from side to side so often. During the first match of the day my brain is still in TV mode and I expect to be able to hear Johnny Mac and Tim Henmann trading funny *cough* jokes as I watch on from court side. However once you get accustomed to watching Wimbledon live there’s no better way to do it.
It’s not just the live tennis you have to experience. It’s the atmosphere, prestige and history of the tournament. Everyone comes away with little anecdotes unique to their experience. I can remember convincing a security guard to let me and two friends on to Court 2 because we thought our friend was ballboying there. Several zoomed-in photos later it turned out it was not, in fact, James (but we still got to watch Serena Williams, so it was a win-win situation.) I remember properly fan-girling when I got Gail Monfis’ sweat band after he won a match on Court 12, and freaking out when I saw Rafa Nadal on the bridge connecting the Members’ Enclosure and Centre Court. On another visit I actually managed to get into an evening match on Centre to watch Roger Federer, and the crowd just didn’t want to stop the Mexican wave that was delaying play.
I could literally go on for hours about how amazing Wimbledon is, but once you’ve experienced it, there will be no need for me to babble on. Just a few words of advice: once the day’s play is finished and the crowds some way to dispersing, try to take a moment in the stands on Centre Court. The roof will be closed and the grass might be a bit worn down, but that electric current in the air will never have felt stronger. The whole place has an aura and you become acutely aware of the magnitude of the history and elegance of The Championships Wimbledon.
Celia Cavanagh is a student at the University of Warwick. She studies maths and physics, and so you might be able to guess just how much numbers is her thing. However, after “bossing” her one essay of the year 2014, she has decided words are pretty cool too. What you have just read is the product of this new-found enthusiasm. May we hope it lasts.
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