Monday, July 30, 2012

We Walked to the Olympics

"Get me tennis tickets," I told my sister.  "I want to be able to walk to the Olympics from my house."

My sister had better luck finding Olympic tickets in the US than we did in the UK, so thanks to her, Josh and I headed up the hill to the All England Lawn Tennis Club with ground passes (and American flags) for today's Olympic tennis.  It was a lovely day -- partly cloudy, breezy, and in the mid-60's.  I checked the schedule of play and it looked like we could camp out at the Number 2 Court (which has unreserved seating during the Olympics!) for most of the day and watch several of the Americans play.

Sure enough, when we found our seats, Andy Roddick was playing.
Andy Roddick vs Martin Klizan of Slovakia
There were lots of American flags in the stands, but they were all outshone by Andy Roddick's shoes.
Nice tennis shoes!
Andy is a very vocal tennis player, occasionally making comments to the umpire, his entourage in the stands, and the crowd in general.  At one point he paused while a man took his crying baby out of the court, and said, "Don't worry, it will get better."  (Children under 5 are not allowed in the courts during Wimbledon, but there were an awful lot of them there for the Olympics!)  He also got into a lengthy discussion with the judge after one of the ball girls caught a ball before it hit the ground.  It was clearly headed out of bounds, but technically she should have let it bounce before touching it.  He's sort of like a good-natured John McEnroe...

Andy won his match in straight sets, and then I wandered off in search of some lunch while Josh held on to our seats.  I bumped into my friend Nancy, a fellow American who lives in Wimbledon, who was lucky enough to get Centre Court tickets for today, but had been watching Andy Roddick's match.  We agreed that the Olympic tennis had a very different feel from the Wimbledon tennis championships, despite being held in the same place.

I also came across this topiary version of the Olympic mascot wielding a tennis racquet.
Topiary Olympic mascot
Next up in Number 2 Court: Venus Williams vs Sara Errani of Italy.  Sadly, many people left to watch Federer's match in Centre Court on the big screen, but there was still a vocal USA contingent supporting her.
Venus serves
Where did everyone go?
After Venus won her match, we went up to Henman Hill (Mount Murray?) to watch some of the action in Centre Court on the big screen.
Olympic rings at the top of Henman Hill
Despite the fact that Federer was playing, the crowd was pretty sparse, especially compared to the hordes gathered on the hill to watch Andy Murray play a few weeks ago.  The big screen had been modified to match the bizarre 80's-style Olympic design and color scheme.
The big screen from Henman Hill
Roger Federer defeats Julian Benneteau of France
Olympic graphics on Centre Court
Mini Team GB supporter

The Dutch like to show their true colors
We headed back to Number 2 Court to watch the Williams sisters play their doubles match against a team from Romania.  There was a much bigger crowd compared to Venus' match earlier in the afternoon.
No empty seats for this match!
Mama Williams and her entourage
The judge measures the height of the new net
Venus and Serena get ready for their match
These Romanian ladies played well, but they didn't stand a chance!
The Williams sisters are a force of nature!
It was a good day for the Americans.  Serena and Venus won their doubles match, as well as each of their singles matches.  In fact, all the Americans who played today won.  Yay!

The final match scheduled for Number 2 Court was a men's doubles match with Roger Federer, but as soon as the Williams sisters had cleared the court, the umpire announced that it had been moved to Number 1 Court, which is reserved seating only.  That announcement was met with jeers and boos, but there was nothing we could do about it, so we drowned our sorrows in some strawberries and cream and wandered around for a bit.

It's strange to see all the Olympic branding all over the grounds -- quite a contrast from how it looks during Wimbledon...
Inspire a generation from the 80's?
We discovered they were showing Federer's doubles match against a Japanese team on the big screen, so we watched a little of that before heading home.  It was a bit challenging to follow, since all four players were wearing red shirts and white shorts.  We didn't stay for the whole match, but I hear the Swiss team won...
Who's who?
Occasionally someone would see us with our American flags and ask where we were from.  It's fun to see their surprise when we respond that we live right here in Wimbledon, although we always add that we are Americans and relocated here from Washington DC last year.  I ended up having a nice chat with a lovely family from Kew after one such exchange while Josh found a quiet spot to dial in to a conference call.  He was "working from home" today.

We walked back down the hill and met my sister for dinner in central Wimbledon before heading back home.   It was another great Olympic experience.  I hope the Americans continue to do well.  Too bad we won't be able to see more tennis, but other events await...

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