The alarm rang early in the morning, telling me it was time to get ready for a day I had been looking forward to for months. Day 1 of Wimbledon. Having only arrived in London 2 days prior on a 24 hour journey from Australia, and naturally spending my first night at the bar (it was a Saturday night after all), it’s fair to say I was feeling pretty exhausted.
I turned the alarm off and made the decision to skip Wimbledon in favour of a few extra hours of shut eye. A couple minutes later I came to my senses and jumped out of bed. What a fool I was for even considering skipping it. After all, who needs sleep when you have adrenalin on your side?
My first day in London turned out to be the coldest summer day I had ever experienced, so I was grateful that today was sunny and warm, perfect weather for a full day out to witness the art of unnecessary grunting and moaning.
Entering the London underground via Russel Square station, I rode the Piccadilly line until I hit Earls Court, then switching to the District line, south bound, which would take me all the way to Wimbledon. From here a very short bus ride brought me directly to the All England Club.
Arriving spot on 9am, this is where your true dedication will be tested. It is not possible to buy tickets for Wimbledon online. Instead, you must buy them at the gate on the day. The issue here is that the gates don’t open until 10:30am and only the first 7500 people are assured of a ticket, due to restrictions in capacity. This meant that I arrived to be greeted by the longest line I had ever seen, situated on a huge grass area.
I’m sure we have all been in this situation. When you are in a line at a club and a bunch of drongos (idiots/fools/morons, etc etc) behind you suddenly see someone further up the line that they know, and think it’s OK if they jump the queue and join them. Suddenly there is an extra 10 people in front of you. Well, this will not happen at Wimbledon. When you arrive, you go straight to the back of the line and an official will hand you a card which tells you your place in the queue.
I walked towards the official and the butterflies started. I needed to be in the first 7500, otherwise there was no direct entry for me and I planned on turning right around and heading straight back into central London. I looked at the card and it read 6315. A sense of relief and satisfaction ran through my body as the realisation set in that I was assured of spending the day at Wimbledon.
The next hour and a half was extremely uneventful as I waited for the gates to open. My time was spent either listening to music, people watching or playing bejeweled on my phone (I was going through a heavy bejewelled phase at that time. Couldn’t get enough of it).
In the line I managed to end up right behind a lady who was sitting near me on the bus, along with her 4 or 5 year old son who she was obviously bringing along in the hopes that it would inspire him to pickup a racquet and one day make her a millionaire. My theory was further backed up when I heard her call the boys school to give an excuse as to why he would not be in attendance that day.
Once the gates opened at 10:30, my section of the line did not start moving for quite some time as there were so many people in front of me. By the time I actually got inside, it was 12pm. 3 hours had passed from the moment I arrive, to the moment I was able to watch some tennis.
I only had access to the outside courts, so if you are wanting get tickets for centre court or the show courts, you should expect to be lining up overnight. I am dedicated, but I draw a line there.
Overall though, I have to give credit to the Wimbledon officials as well as the spectators. For such a huge lineup it is incredibly orderly with really no chaos or stress to speak of and the excitement of being there really made the 3 hours fly by.
It was a real thrill to be there, with an incredible atmosphere inside. Walking from court to court watching what I had previously only been able to watch on tv, thousands of kilometres away was slightly surreal for me. Wimbledon really did turn out to be everything I hoped it would be.