Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Day in Court

95% of the time, Wimbledon is a relatively quiet, residential part of London, but for two weeks (aka, "The Fortnight") every summer, it gets a little nutty.  It's time for tennis!
Burger King's "Whopper" takes on a new meaning
The Queen fills in for Nadal and Federer
Morrison's supermarket changes its name in honor of Andy Murray
Viewing screen and lawn chairs set up in the town center
...and in the Centre Court shopping mall
Invasion of the giant strawberries!
I was out of town for the first week of the Championships, but I had a free afternoon on the second Tuesday, so I headed up the hill to join 'The Queue.'  On my way, I bumped into my friend Nancy, who warned me that the previous week some people waited as long as 7 hours to get in, and they had even stopped letting people in some days.  Since that was the only day I could go, I continued on my way, determined to get in.
Since Andy Murray wasn't scheduled to play that day, nor were most of the other big-name players, I anticipated that it wouldn't be quite so crowded.  I was right!  In fact, there was absolutely no queue at all!
Not 'The Queue'; just 'The Walkway'
I walked right in and checked out the schedule of play.  Since I just had a Grounds Pass, I couldn't watch Sloane Stephens play in No. 1 Court, so I headed up to Henman Hill (aka Murray Mound) to see if they were showing her match on the big screen.
The AELTC likes to do things old school...
No such luck.  It was Radwanska vs Li in Centre Court.  Still, it was a good game in a lovely setting, so I stuck around to watch for a little while.
Watching the action in Centre Court from atop Henman Hill
I'd be happy to hang out up here even if there
wasn't any tennis going on.
Then I got some strawberries & cream (a Wimbledon tradition) and headed over to No. 3 Court to watch some doubles matches.  Although most of the seats are reserved, this court has a section with unreserved seating for those of us who didn't get any seats in the ballot and aren't well-connected enough to score tickets some other way.  You can't just buy tickets to Wimbledon -- you have to enter a lottery (ballot) about 7 months in advance, or know the right people.

Unfortunately, as soon as I sat down, it started to rain, and they suspended play and pulled the cover over the lawn.  Darn!  I wandered around the grounds for a while and had a snack while I waited for the rain to let up, and then decided to go back and reclaim my seat when it looked like it was finally coming to an end.  It looked promising when the kids came out and started pulling the cover off the court...
Time to resume play?
But then in started raining before they had even finished, so they put it back again.  Meanwhile, I got a call from my friend Brenda, who was there as well, and she and her daughter came and joined me.
Brenda and I wait for the rain to stop
Brenda and I have a lot in common:  we're American, we spent several years in Berkeley, we live in Wimbledon, we're AWC Board members, and we both have Indian fathers and American mothers.  (And neither of us looks particularly Indian.)  It seemed only fitting that when play finally resumed, we rooted for the team that was half Indian. 
A French guy and a Serbian guy vs an Indian guy and a Czech guy
The French guy was a really bad sport and was reprimanded by the judge for "ball abuse" after he intentionally hit two balls out of the court, so we were especially glad when the other team won.
 Next up: Mixed doubles.  There was another half-Indian team, so we stuck around to root for them as well.
Two Germans vs a Romanian guy and an Indian girl
Once again, we picked the right team to root for, as they won in two sets.  I wonder how these doubles players get paired up with partners from other countries?  How do they train together?  Or even communicate?  I imagine many of them train in the US and speak English, but it still seems odd.
The winners!
We were thinking of heading home after that, as it was much colder than forecasted, and getting late, but we saw that the Bryan twins were playing in No. 12 Court, so we had to see how they were doing.
Decent crowd at 8 pm on a chilly weeknight
It turns out they were also playing a half-Indian (half-Austrian) team, but we still rooted for the Bryans since they are American (and the #1 seeds).  It's no mystery how they got paired up, since they are identical twins.  It was a very close match, and at one point they thought they had won and both walked to the net with their hands outstretched to shake their opponents hands, only to realize that the judge had not called a fault.
The Bryans try to explain their odd behavior

A very close game!
Everyone laughed, and even the opposing team giggled while the brothers regrouped.  There's a great video of it on the BBC site.  If you look closely as the twins are walking up to the net, you'll see a girl in a yellow jacket sitting about 10 rows up.  I'm next to her on the left.

A few minutes later, they did it again, but this time they had actually won!
The Bryans win!
That seemed like a good time to call it a day, so I bid adieu to Brenda and her daughter and headed home.  On my way out, I checked the scoreboard for No. 1 Court to see the results of the men's doubles invitational match.  John McEnroe and Patrick McEnroe of the USA defeated Peter McNamara and Paul McNamee of Australia.  That must have been a
challenge for the announcer!

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying watching it on TV here in the States, but I sure miss being there and watching it live. Anticipating the finals now....


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