I arrived in Wimbledon on Sunday before play started. As soon as I had checked in and abandoned my backpack I headed out to Wimbledon on the District Line with Dory, a friend who had flown in for the tournament from Canada. We got off at Southfields and walked up Wimbledon Park Road. Some of the houses on the way look a bit shabby, but don’t be fooled. They all have lawn tennis courts in the backyard. (Not really but it is in fact a posh neighborhood.) As soon as you get close to the grounds the excitement gets really palpable. There are people wearing tennis clothes! And people with racquets! We are getting closer! Oh, and here’s a tennis player. Whoohoo. My paparazzo skills completely failed me and I only got Jarmila Gaidosova’s lovely backside.
First thing we did was walking around the Club which is enclosed by a brick wall. You don’t really see anything except more tennis people. Hello, Carla Suarez Navarro, nice seeing you! (I love your backhand but I want you to lose first round. Predicaments before the tournament even started!) On the backside of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club, in Somerset Road, is the players’ exit and tournament cabs were lining up to give them a ride home after their practice. Peeping throught the bushes I spotted German player Dustin Brown and took a nice picture in the evening light. He liked the photo!
After that we made our way to Wimbledon Village, saw Lindsay Davenport on the way and had a beer at the famous Dog & Fox. They showed a football match!
Back in my hostel I tried to get some sleep – to no avail. Bit unfortunate when you are in a room with two snorers. I started Day 1 of the 126th Championships at 5.30 in the morning with zero hours of sleep.
Arriving at 6.30 at Southfields station it felt like rush hour. A line of people with picnic bags or backpacks made their way to Wimbledon Park. When you got out of the station cab drives loudly advertise their service to take you “to the tennis, right to the end of the queue!” We walked. Luckily for my sleep deprivation Dory brought folding camping chairs (all the way from Canada!) and as soon as we were handed our queue cards I had a little nap in the morning sun.
Basically you queue for about three to four hours and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. (Thanks to folding chairs and lots of nice people we met in the queue.) While you’re waiting in the queue there’s enough time to study the schedule of play to try to figure out on which court to start, how long the match might go, where to go next, when to stop for a quick strawberry and cream snack, if to queue again for refunded tickets, or – in my case – when to buy a toothbrush (which I had forgotten at home. On the map I had of Wimbledon I saw a pharmacy, but I never made it there. Tennis happened! In the end Dory gave me a spare toothbrush, only for me to lose my toothpaste in the showers. A very sweet Italian guy gave me of some of his every night. So nice!)
The first day of the tournament started with a big fave dilemma. Both of the players I wanted to see were scheduled at the same time. One had a really bad record on grass – Stosur, while the other seemed to be in a slump with four R1 losses in a row – Lisicki. Now, who did I want to see lose? Both, I decided. Stosur would get the first set from me, then I’d head over to Court 16 for Lisicki.
Once you’re on the grounds – run! Even though the voice from the loudspeaker tells you not to rush. But there are only so many unreserved seats on the bigger show courts, so we ran to Court 3 and were able to get good seats in the upper stands.