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Another Cathedral – This one of Grass!

June 25, 2011

Once again WordPress failed me and all the text I typed for our day at Wimbledon was erased when I published the blog. Here’s a summary:
We decided when we arrived in London to pick the best weather day for a trip to Wimbledon, which started on Monday. It has been a dream of both Jen and I to attend Wimbledon, totally on our bucket lists, so part of the planning for the Europe trip was to make sure we were in London when the tournament started.
Wimbledon tickets are sold mostly to corporate types, just like big events in the States. Some tix are available by public raffle months before the tourney. Other than that a few travel groups have tickets, they run $700 or so a day.
In addition Wimbledon allots some tickets each day to the public. There are about 1500 for the “show courts” (Center Court, Court 1, Court 2) and about 8000 general grounds courts that allow you on the grounds and to line up for seats at the outer courts (3 thru 19). To get those you enter this giant queue. So that’s what we did.
Our plan was to be on the tube by 6:30 am, we made it a little later than that. However, our tube line had a malfunction which put us at Wimbledon about 7:45. We walked about a mile to the entrance to the queueing area. As we passed through the gate I heard the best words we could hope for – “straight ahead to the queue, you WILL get in today”! So exciting!
We arrive at a huge grass field where several lines hundreds deep were already in place. We were herded to our line by the Stewards, and once in line they passed out the most important item – our queue cards. They are stamped with the date and a number, we were 6732 and 6733. The numbers are checked several times to insure no one jumps ahead in the queue. So now we wait. We lay or sit on the grass with several new friends, all drinking Pimm’s or eating stuff they brought. There are concession stands near by and restrooms, it’s all very well organized. We talk some to the folks around us, some of whom even share Pimm’s with us, as we had no idea what that was. After an hour or so, our line was moved across the field to another queue area, all in order and very nicely handled.
Near our lines are the tent queues, where people have camped out over night. We see them move and many of them move their tents, still set up. We learned later that those who did not get in the first 1500 (for show court tix) just stay another night in a tent, now closer to the front, hoping for show tix the next day. The rest of us begin moving now towards the gates for general grounds tickets. A steward tells me that 8000 will get in today and we should be inside by 1:00. After 8000 those remaining in the queue may enter as other folks leave – one on one. The line moves slowly but steadily, the walk is about a mile from there to the gate, all done quite orderly and everyone is in a great mood. It’s a beautiful day and we cannot believe we are so close!
About noon we make it to the gate and we are in! WIMBLEDON! We had scoped out the matches and decided to head for court 18, which had some good singles matches and is right beside Hinman Hill, where the giant TV screen is. Jen got in line to be seated at the court (it was full but as people leave they let others in on change overs). I went after refreshments and made it back just before our turn to be seated, and man we were so lucky. We got two seats on the 3rd row of the baseline bleachers, right in the center. We could almost touch the players! It was amazing! The courts are so much smaller than they look on tv.
The first match was between Britain’s best female player and the 29th seed from Japan. The crowd was very energetic for the Brit, but she lost in a very close 3rd set. We had such good seats we dared not leave. The next match featured the number 8 seed (Kvitnova) and the 20th (from Italy, I forget her name). The level of tennis was MUCH higher, Kvitnova is a giant and she waxed the other girl with no problem. This girl can play! We stayed for the first set of a men’s match, featuring Thomas Berdych who can serve SO hard (he’s real tall). He was stomping an American I never heard of. What great tennis! By then we needed to get up and walk around, so we did.
We got some lunch and walked a bit, did some shopping, then camped out on Hinman Hill / Mount Murray. It is way smaller than it looks on TV, but was crammed with people. We watched Nadal on the big screen then it started raining. We waited out the rain for an hour when they said they probably wouldn’t play any more. It was close to 7. Of course center court roof was closed and we watched the end of ladies’ match, then decided to head home, along with several thousand of our newest friends.
It really was a fantastic day and a highlight of our trip. So glad we got to do this and so thrilled we actually were at Wimbledon for a day. What a blast!
Tomorrow is my birthday! We are going to the Wax Museum, which is walking distance from our hotel, and then dinner with friends from Seminary! Sunday we go home!







Categories: sabbatical
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