With all the historic events taking place in Britain this summer you might be forgiven for forgetting about the other prestigious events that occur this time every year, like Royal Ascot and Wimbledon. Royal Ascot is taking place this week and Wimbledon play will begin next Monday, 25 June. If you’ve always wanted to attend Wimbledon but thought it was impossible to get tickets, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not as difficult as you imagined.
In 1990, I fetched Court 1 tickets by queuing early on the day. Naturally it rained during the first match so we had to take shelter until play could resume. While waiting, a couple gave us their Centre Court tickets. They had just flown in from the States and were too tired to wait out the rain delay. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Of course, what happened to us was a complete stroke of luck but if you queue on match day there’s a chance you may get Centre Court tickets as well. We were able to see matches played by Gabriela Sabatini, Michael Chang and Stefan Edberg.
Watching a Centre Court match was a dream come true for me because I had been a fan of Wimbledon since watching John McEnroe win in the early 80′s. It was interesting to observe Wimbledon protocol and see some of the things you miss on TV. After the matches finished we went for a stroll through the beautiful grounds and ended the day with some delicious strawberries and cream – a Wimbledon must.
It’s an experience I have never forgotten, especially because of the kindness of two strangers who turned what was already a great experience into an amazing one. If seeing Wimbledon is on your bucket list, go for it! It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Wish to learn more about this iconic sporting event? Here are 15 facts about Wimbledon that you may not know:
- Wimbledon is the world’s oldest tennis tournament, established at The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in 1877.
- Its original location was off Worple Road in Wimbledon but it moved to Church Road in 1922.
- The last British players to win the singles events were Fred Perry in 1936 (Gentlemen’s Singles) and Virginia Wade in 1977 (Ladies’ Singles.)
- The first televised airing of The Championships, Wimbledon was by the BBC on June 21, 1937.
- The courts are sown with 100% Perennial Ryegrass making Wimbledon the only Grand Slam event played on grass.
- Sponsored advertising is not allowed at Wimbledon.
- In 2009, Centre Court began using a retractable roof to help avoid rain delays that have plagued the tournament throughout its history. It takes 8 – 10 minutes for the roof to close.
- Centre Court is only used for the Wimbledon Championships but it will see extra play this year when The All England Club hosts the tennis events in the Summer Olympics.
- The tradition of players bowing or curtseying in front of The Royal Box ended in 2003; however an exception is made if Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales is present.
- BBG’s (or Ball Boys and Girls) are drawn from schools in particular London boroughs. Candidates are nominated by their headteachers and must pass a written test and a fitness test among others. The average age of a BBG is 15. Ball Girls did not appear on Centre Court until 1985.
- Champions receive a ¾ size replica of their trophy.
- This year’s prize money for the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles titles will be £1,150,000.
- Tickets are secured mostly through ballot; however you may queue for tickets on match days as well.
- For the first time this year, American viewers will be able to see every single match live on ESPN, ending 25 years of hit and miss coverage on NBC. The Championship Trophies left the grounds of Wimbledon for the first time in history when they crossed the pond to mark the launch of ESPN’s coverage.
- Can’t make this year’s Wimbledon? Tours of the grounds and museum are available at various times throughout the year.
Melissa Stoey is the author of Smitten by Britain- the world’s first blog for Britophiles (people who love Great Britain.) She used to live in England and is a lifelong Britophile who enjoys sharing her passion for Blighty with others. At Smitten by Britain, Melissa writes about the people, places and things that make Britain great.