The Southfields station, closest point to go to the Wimbledon queue, bears a Wimbledon look and feel!
And at right above, is the Wimbledon station itself, where I went, to purchase a sleeping bag. For my all-night stay in the queue
for the tickets
And as one moves out of the station and walks towards Wimbledon, the streets beckon. You know you are in Wimbledon territory. Unambiguously!
And as I reach the place where the queue builds up, at 8-30 pm on the previous night, I am amazed to see a few hundred people already there, before me! Tents are laid out and people have got quite comfortable too..
The view of the camping ground in the evening, with tents and people all over.
And in the middle of the elaborate tents, my rather unpretentious little sleeping bag :)
Early morning, with a beautiful sky, and people waking up from the tents, and sleeping bags, etc.
The left-luggage place where tents and other stuff can be left, as you move from the queue and into Wimbledon. Also you can see young and old alike, waiting patiently.
So when I reached at 8-30 pm, I got a queue number of 1378. So 1377 people before me already. However, there were 500 reserved seats each, for centre court, court no. 1 and court no. 2 to be given away. Or 1500 in total. So at 1378, I was assured of a reserved seat in one of these three courts. By morning, when the queue moved ahead, and people ahead of me, started making their choices – whether to get centre court, court no. 1 or to NOT take a reserved seat (they can take a basic entry into Wimbledon which allows one to walk around, and also get into the multiple other courts, where there are no reserved seats!) – by the time, my turn came, I was fortunate to get a firm seat on court no. 1. The wrist band confirmed that allocation.
And finally the queue starts moving forward in the morning, around 7-30 am or so. And the excitement builds up further.
The foot bridge crossed, and then you see the board of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. And you are just around the corner from the turnstiles, where you’ll purchase the ticket and go inside WImbledon! Against advance purchase ticket prices of 600 Pounds or 1000 Pounds or 1500 Pounds, the tickets offered to the people in queue, were as low as 50 Pounds for Centre Court, and 42 Pounds for Court no.1, etc. Really attractive pricing!!
And then you spot “Centre Court”. Oh my God!! It’s like spotting the sacred idol, after a long queue on a pilgrimage! Also spotted the board that showed what matches were going on, on what courts. Many of the courts have unreserved seats, and especially on day one, you might find some good players, playing on the outside courts. You need to make the most of the opportunity then, land up early at that court, and get a seat. These outside courts have limited seating capacity.
Beautiful spaces, green all over. And the typical Wimbledon store, selling merchandise!
And the famous “hill” where one can hang out, eat strawberries and cream (grossly overhyped, by the way), grab a beer or some wine, And as Federer was not playing on the day I was there, and in any case, I had not got centre court tickets, this was the closest I could get to God aka Federer!!
The smaller outside courts. One can just walk by and see the games. Good players often found playing here, and one can feel extremely close to the players, on these courts!
Ahh.. you noticed the cap and the T-shirt. Any guesses who I am an ardent fan of?? ;-P And now I am on my seat. In a court no. 1 stadium which is pretty large, thanks to the penance of the overnight queue, I am on row 5 or 6 behind the chair umpire. Extremely close to the court!! Amazing seat.. By the way, the Indian lady seen below (and her family) were waiting in the queue from Sunday MORNING around 9-30 am!! And they were about 560 in the queue. And they did not get centre court. And were on court no 1 just a couple of rows ahead of me! And I had gone at 8-30 pm at night.. Guess they had really bad luck, after being so early and waiting for so long, to miss out on centre court.. !
The court no. 1 before the players come in.
The unformed people and the specific positions – all that goes to make Wimbledon, Wimbledon.
The linesmen walk in and take their position. There are two sets of folks – the entire linesmen team is rotated after every few games, perhaps to ensure against fatigue and mistakes. In fact, the same thing happens with ball boys and ball girls. Changed every few games.
I am set too!! For the first match to being. Women’s top seed starts proceedings here, Serena Williams vs Margarita Gasparyan.
And the players walk out.
The match begins. Margarita puts up a good fight initially before Serena asserted herself and took over. Here’s a good rally.
Serena in full flow..
Serena serve in slow motion!
And Serena prevails.
Large crowds enjoying Wimbledon
The outside courts – much cosier, smaller stands, feel closer to the game..
On right are the practise courts, where one could be lucky to find some big players knocking away. I could not recognise the players on the court, except for Hewitt, on the left court.
On the left is the pavilion from where players come out. Fans crowd around to spot the stars walking out!
Another entry for the centre court on the left, and a huddle of linesmen outside their court, on the right..
On the left is the formal entrance to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, and on the right is a scoreboard showing updated scores from the various courts
Nishikori and Bolelli coming in for their first round match.
Nishikori service in slow motion!
Bolelli service in slow motion
A hard-fought 5-setter win for Nishikori. A repeat of how the two met last year at Wimbledon, and Nishikori won a 5-setter then too.
Nishikori did have an injury which needed to be attended to, while the match was one. That may have been the reason for the long-drawn 5-setter. As it turned out, though Nishikori won this match, he dropped out of Wimbledon thereafter, due to the injury!