A fabulous day at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship 2017

After about 14 years in London, I realised this year, I still had never visited the Wimbledon Tournament and experienced the unique atmosphere. We could have secured tickets with l’Homme via his tennis club but with our 3 little ones, the logistic and childcare cost would have made it a really pricey experience.

So when a group of photo enthusiasts organised a meetup to visit the place and spend the day out there I was all ears. However, as the date to make our way to the tournament got closer, lots of people started commenting on the groups’ forum that the queues to get tickets to access the grounds on the day were totally crazy and my hopes started to fade. I nearly did not attend the meetup feeling less than optimistic but I still went. Sometimes, the stars align and by a course of incredible circumstances, my mates Matt, John & Joseph were given the incredible chance to enter the grounds which was for me totally unbelievable. To put things into perspective, 9000 people camped overnight on a daily basis to get access to the tournament!!!

 

Sometimes, the stars align and by a course of incredible circumstances, my mates Matt, John & Joseph were given the incredible chance to enter the grounds which was for me totally unbelievable. To put things into perspective, 9000 people camp overnight on a daily basis to get access to the tournament!!!

It turned out that 4 places had become available on Centre Court which was the icing on the cake. I had to keep asking Matt to pinch me as this was so extraordinary. At last, I was going to have my first Wimbledon experience and live it in absolute style.

Wimbledon All England club

Federer and Djokovic among others were scheduled to play on Centre Court that day…what a lineup! L’Homme was so kind – as he, the tennis fanatic – encouraged me to stay all day and make the most of the experience while he looked after our 3 little ones!

Wimbledon tennis championship

A bit of history (source Wikipedia) The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known simply as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877 and is played on outdoor grass courts.

Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Since the Australian Open shifted to hardcourt in 1988, Wimbledon is the only Major still played on grass.

The tournament traditionally took place over two weeks in late June and early July, starting on the third Monday in June and culminating with the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals, scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday at the end of the second week. Wimbledon traditions include a strict dress code for competitors and Royal patronage and there is an all white dress code for players.

More history about the tournament can be read here.

As soon as we entered the grounds we decided to pay a little visit to the Centre Court to take a few photos while it was empty. Staff were hard at work sorting out the grass for the games of the day

It really looks spectacular when you enter the court!

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After our preview, we visited we decided to go out and about to feel the atmosphere, visit the grounds more in depth and maybe catch a few good games on the other courts.

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Then time had come for us to have a bite before the first game start and which was scheduled at 1pm. We stopped by Hennman Hill (which I was told was renamed Murray Mound) to watch the big screen, feel the vibes while having something to eat.

Our afternoon on Centre Court felt so surreal. We were near the presenter and previous Tennis champions between each game as there were TV interviews going on 2 metres away from us.

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We also had prime spots to watch the game so I was in heaven.

We started by a game between 2 very good women tennis players: Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) v (19) Timea Bacsinszky (Swi) and we saw magnificent rallies!

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All the referees, linesmen and women, balls boys and girls are dressed by Ralph Lauren and they really looked the part! On my journey back home by bus, I sat next to one of the linesmen and he explained to us that they work for 1hour at a time, then have a 1hour break before returning to a game. They always work in the same team and the job requires a lot of concentration at this level of the competition, especially as the day was really warm!

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Then came the Ernests Gulbis (Lat) v (2) Novak Djokovic (Ser) match which was so thrilling! The sun was suddenly out and we were slowly roasting. I felt for the players to play in this heat. We were lucky that the sun turned fairly quickly for us and felt relieved when we were finally in the shade

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At every break members of the army came to protect the grounds from intruders and were quick to tell you off if you were not seating properly after each break. People are only allowed to move or exit the court during the 90 seconds change-over rest period allowed after every two games.

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After that terrific match, we were so excited to finish off the day with Master Federer v Zverev, that was incredible to see him play since he is having a bit of a renaissance on the courts at the age of 35 (which in tennis terms and at this level is pretty rare and impressive). We saw Tim Henman the former British Champion being interviewed by Sue Barker.

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I can’t tell you how happy I was about my day at Wimbledon. It got very busy as we exited the premises, (about 500.000 visit the tournament every year so I let you imagine when a day of games finishes what it’s like in the streets around the All England club!) but nothing could have wiped away the smile from my fac after such phenomenal day!

I was allowed in with my camera and my telephoto zoom but thankfully it was still within the authorised range. Profesionnals sports photographers have MASSIVE lenses and most use a monopod to hold the weight of their gear.

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The Women single final (G.Muguruza v V.Williams) takes place today and the Men’s final (Federer v Cilic) will take place on Sunday. Watch it on the BBC this weekend or on your favourite sports channel wherever you are, it’s a feast for the eyes.

There are big prizes (big money) for the winner: not less than £2.2 millions for each finalist. This article by The Telegraph gives you some interesting information about the money earned at each stage of the competition.

 

As mentioned in a BBC article: Pristine surfaces, the all-white dress code, strawberries and, most importantly, the world’s best tennis players all striving for one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes.

“There’s a certain beauty and majesty to Wimbledon – the elegance, the way the grass looks on TV.” Seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe sums up the Championships at the All England Club rather well.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Wimbledon with me today.

I also want to acknowledge the incredible attention and kindness that were shown to us as 2 of our friends were in a wheelchair. We could not have been better looked after. Hats off to the Wimbledon stewards and the organisers for being so helpful throughout the day.

 

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