Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Splendour on the Grass

My advice to anyone who wants to see the Wimbledon Tennis Championships with minimal fuss is to pick a day when Andy Murray is NOT playing and the weather forecast is good, and just show up in the early afternoon and get a Grounds pass.  Following my own excellent advice, I picked up some snacks and reached the Queue right at noon.  With only a handful of people in front of me, I breezed right through and chose one of the dozen or so ticket windows.  The woman in the kiosk asked if I was interested in the one remaining ticket to No. 1 Court, and mentioned that Roger Federer would be playing there at 1pm.

Well, that was a no-brainer!  I had plenty of time before the match started, but was curious where my seat was located, so I figured I'd go in and eat my lunch while I was waiting.  I could not believe my luck when I was directed to a seat in the third row!!!
Incredible seat!
The lady sitting next to me couldn't believe it either, as she had queued up at 6 am for her ticket.  I'm sure she was wishing she could have those 6 hours of her life back, but she was very good-natured about it.

The first match of the day was #4 seed Roger Federer vs #23 Tommy Robredo of Spain.
Roger and Tommy
 It was a somewhat one-sided match, but still a thrill to watch from so close.

Serving up a win
The match was over in an hour and a half, with Roger winning three sets in a row.  Nicely done!
Roger gets a standing ovation
I decided to take a break in between matches and walk up to Henman Hill/Murray Mound to see the action on Centre Court on the big screen.  The hill was packed with people watching an exciting match between #1 Rafael Nadal and #144 Nick Kyrgios of Australia. 
Not a free square inch of lawn!
I enjoyed the view from the top for a while, and then got some gelato and watched part of a girls' doubles match on one of the small outdoor courts.
View from the top of the hill
By the time I got back to my seat in No. 1 Court, I had completely missed the ladies' singles match between #22 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and #23 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.  Safarova had won in less than an hour.

I was very excited to learn that the next match scheduled for No. 1 Court was a ladies' doubles match with Venus and Serena Williams.  Bonus!  I had seen them play doubles before and they were a force to be reckoned with.
The Williams sisters meet their opponents
The umpire's chair blocked my view a bit while they were warming up, but the crowd kept laughing at something.
Warming up
When they went back to their seats after the warm-up, it appeared that something was wrong with Serena.  She had a whole crowd of official-looking people around her, and appeared to be crying.  There was a very long delay, during which the crowd passed the time by doing the wave -- first time I've seen that at Wimbledon! 

Eventually, to the cheers of the crowd, the players arose and started play.
This was my view -- no zoom, although I did crop out some heads.
It quickly became clear that something was definitely wrong with Serena.  She was making all sorts of mistakes.
Venus tries to give her sister a pep talk
When it was her turn to serve, she could not even get the ball over the net!  This was not the Serena with the killer serve that we were used to seeing at Wimbledon.
She's not even dressed like her usual self
After they lost three straight games to their German/Swiss opponents, the umpire climbed down from his chair and spoke to the sisters, and they conceded the match shortly thereafter.  I later heard that Serena was suffering from some sort of virus.  What a shame!

They moved another ladies' doubles match to our court, so I stayed put since I had such a great seat.
Free upgrade to No. 1 Court for these ladies
It was a very good game, with the two evenly matched pairs battling it out for nearly every point.
Now that's some tennis!
During the first set, I got a text from my friend Viv that she had just arrived on the grounds, so I ducked out to meet her at the next break.  Viv lives in Wimbledon, too, and rents her house out to tennis players every summer.  We went over to Court 12 to watch one of her former tenants, Elena Vesnina, play with her doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova.  Since I missed seeing Ekaterina play on No. 1 Court, it was nice to have a second chance.
Elena and Ekaterina
From our front-row seats, we also had a good view of the scoreboard outside Centre Court, so we could keep an eye on the Nadal-Kyrgios match, which was still going on.  What an upset!  Unfortunately, the Russian ladies we were watching also lost their match to a German pair.

We headed back to No. 1 Court to watch Viv's friend Peter Fleming play in the Senior Men's Invitational Doubles tournament.  Viv had a pass that allowed her into the section reserved for players and members of the AELTC, and I was able to go in with her.   It turned out my 3rd-row seat had a better view, but it was still fun to sit in the VIP section, even though we were practically the only people there.
View from the Players/Members box

It was also fun to watch this particular match, which was between Americans Peter Fleming and Patrick McEnroe (John's brother), and the French/Iranian duo of Henri Leconte and Mansour Bahrami.  Bahrami in particular is known as the "Court Jester" for his antics and impressive tricks, but all four players were very entertaining.  I don't think I've ever laughed so much at a tennis match -- or any sporting event, for that matter.

Bahrami's pretty spry for an old guy

Despite all the silliness, Bahrami and Leconte made short work of the American duo.
The "Seniors" bid farewell to the crowd.

But they all stayed to sign autographs for the fans.  Class acts!
Peter Fleming signs autographs
It was the perfect way to cap off a full day of tennis.  I got home just in time to watch the USA-Belgium World Cup game...

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't get much better than that! Way to work the system, Naina--it surely gave you a lucky break and a wonderful day. Thanks for the first hand report!


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