Friday, June 24, 2005

Wimbledon 2005

Wimbledon. Summer. Strawberries and Cream. Pimms. SW19.


This has been on my list ever since I realised that the first place we would live in London was on the Wimbledon Tube line, and that the home of tennis was a short ride on the Underground into the south-western suburbs - I don't know why but I always conjured up this image of it being somewhere way out in the home counties!

Although a few of us had been planning to go to the tournament, it was a last minute decision to head out there this afternoon straight from work for an afternoon at the championships at the end of its first week. So I jumped on a series of buses & tubes to get myself from Hanger Lane in Ealing, all the way around and down to the Southfields/Wimbledon area, and to the back of the very long queue for the 'after 5pm'cheap tickets giving you access to the last few games on the outside courts. This system is a fantastic idea, whereby you come straight to the complex straight from work, with a few drinks from the off-licence under your arm, get in the queue where you receive your official Wimbledon date-stamped 'queuing card', and move along in your place until you reach the front. We were very lucky, I was in the ground within 40 minutes (Carly had stayed home - didn't want to go.. crazy!) and Karen W., Andy, Daniel C., Sophie, and Dan's brother Ben came in just behind me.

First stop before we headed to the outside courts was the strawberries and cream vendors, to get a bucket of the most expensive fruit and runny cream you will ever eat (yes, worse than the Ekka!). Dan had arrived organised, with a bucket of Tesco strawberries under his arm he'd purchased on the way, so he gladly dunked them in my expensve cream much to his delight! Smart arse...

We then walked around the outside courts and managed to catch a doubles match with Lindsay Davenport first up.



Lindsay Davenport playing doubles on an outside court

After that we just walked between the many outside court that still had games playing, and because of daylight saving and the long summer days up here in the far northern hemisphere, the sunlight lasts 'til 10pm, allowing tennis to play until not long before that.


The draw; and the big screen on Henman/Hewitt Hill


Action from the outside courts; and (right) Me, Karen & Andy watching from courtside


Dan and I at the outside courts, beers in hand


Dan managed to get a shot of Boris Becker doing courtside comments

As the games began to finish up for the day, attention turned to the last remaining sets on those big matches inside the centre court and court number 1. Unfortunately we only had tickets for the outside courts, so we headed up to the Hill where we'd seen crowds mass to watch big name games in the past on the big screen (resulting in the site being renamed Henman or Hewitt Hill).

Unknown to me, Daniel, Ben and Sophie had been exploring some closed off areas of the grounds, ans collected some hilarious photos of then covorting with Ball Boys, life-size cutouts of womens tennis pin-up Maria Sharapova, and helping themselves to drinks supplied to the umpires chairs!!! Brilliant!


Photos from around the ground.. Ben and the ball boys


Ben and a very life-less Maria


Daniel making adjusting the draw; and Ben joining the camping out queue

With the sun well and truly gone, and security staff ushering us out of the grounds, we got a last few photos at the tournament draw boards, and as we walked out the gate you could see the crowds already queuing with their sleeping bags, barbeque's, and camping chairs for the first of the next day's tickets - Ben promptly joined the queue (jokingly), much to the dismay of those who had already been sitting there for hours!! Very funny..

We headed down to the Wimbledon town centre on the bus for a few drinks on the way home.

-shane

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