OK tennis lovers, this one is especially for you. I have never been a great tennis fan, mostly because I am particularly unskilled at the sport, but I have to admit that my recent visit to The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, better known as Wimbledon, has given me a new respect for and interest in the game. Something about walking on those beautiful grounds and hearing the story of a little tennis club that held its first tournament because it was out of money and could not repair a piece of important lawn equipment and has now grown into a world-renowned organization was quite inspiring.
Wimbledon is the town in which the tennis club is located. It is only a 30 minute drive from our house. I had to use the Sat Nav in the car to find it – I would truly be lost without that little voice talking to me. I was in the middle of a regular neighbourhood when it said, “You have reached your destination.” I was thinking I am definitely lost, but then I saw the walls of the club and the stadiums rising behind them. It is truly right in the middle of a nice little neighbourhood. It started as the local croquet club and eventually became famous for lawn tennis.
The Grounds cover 42 acres and have about 60 clay and grass courts. When walking around the facility it does not feel that large, but there are courts everywhere, some with siting for spectators and others with just an area to stand and view. They are very particular with the maintenance of their grass courts. Each court, practice or competition, is cared for in the same manner and trimmed to an exact height.
Similar to the Queen’s birthday parade, tickets for Wimbledon are requested by mail. If you are lucky enough to be chosen, you simply pay the fee between £35 and £135 per ticket and you are set. If you are not so lucky, there are other ways to enjoy the day. Every morning you can line up and for £20 your can get a grounds pass which allows you to relax on the lawns with your picnic basket and a bottle of wine to watch preliminary matches on all the open courts and view the matches in the stadiums via giant televisions screens. Many people enjoy the tournament like this every year. Here’s the interesting twist. If anyone with a ticket for a seat on the main courts leaves during the day, their ticket becomes available for resale. If you have a grounds pass, you can get in line to purchase open seats for only £10. You never know what you might get, but you may end up with a front row seat for only £10. I think it is an interesting system and it really gives more people a chance to watch high level professional tennis. This is the goal of the club. To make tennis interesting and available to everyone, not only the elite.
So we missed the mail in option for this year. We will have to apply for tickets in the fall of 2013 for the summer 2014 tournament. We might explore the ground pass option. It sounds like a lot of fun. You can’t beat a sunny day with a picnic basket and a bottle of wine.