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As a tennis fan I have always wanted to go to Wimbledon and so was thrilled when my tennis playing son was awarded 2 tickets in the LTA ballot. I thought I would write a review giving my tips of how to get the best from a day at the championships, so hope it will be helpful to anyone going for the first time!
Getting there. *********** I think the easiest way to get to Wimbledon is by train. There are frequent trains from London waterloo to Wimbledon station. If you are coming via London then the nearest station is Southfields on the district line.
We traveled via Reading, changing at Clapham junction. Trains to Wimbledon are frequent. From Wimbledon station you can either take a number 493 bus to the grounds or walk. When you exit the station you will no doubt be approached by very pushy shuttle bus and taxi drivers. They all were keen to tell us it was a 50 minute up hill walk to the grounds! This is not the case. From the station it is a very pleasant walk (partly uphill) 20 minute walk. I think it is a god way to start to soak up the atmosphere too as many of the shops have tennis displays in their windows. As we approached the grounds there were several vendors giving away things like bottled water and cereal bars.
If you arrive by car then you will need to allow time to negotiate the traffic jams! I’m not sure where the main car parks are located but did notice several houses with signs outside offering parking on there drive for £15 for the day! There was also a church car park offering spaces. One thing to keep in mind when you decide how to travel, is that play can sometimes go on until late in the evening. If you are relying on public transport you may have to leave before a game has finished. If you have your own car you will have much more freedom! We were disappointed not to be able to watch any doubles matches as that would have meant missing our last train.
Tickets. ******* We were lucky to be allocated 2 centre court tickets via the L.T.A draw .There is also a public
ballot for tickets. If you would like to enter the ballot then I suggest you go to the official Wimbledon website where you will find contact details for next year’s tournament. You will then be entered into the draw for tickets.
Ticket prices start at £29 for court 3, for the first week of the tournament with prices increasing to £100 each for centre court tickets on finals day. We paid £62 each for Saturday 27th. It is possible to buy a grounds only ticket for £10. There is a full price list of the official Wimbledon web site.
It is also possible to queue for tickets each day. The queue was enormous when we were there, with many camping overnight! Each day 500 tickets are sold for centre court and another 500 each for courts no 1, 2 and 3. In addition around 6,000 ground admission tickets are sold. It is not possible to get court tickets for the last 4 days of the tournament as these tickets are all pre-sold.
Arrival. ******* We arrived at the grounds just before 10 am. After a quick bag search and ticket check we headed to one of the many stands to buy a programme. We paid £7 for a programme and although this seemed like a lot, it has lots of information and is an interesting read as well as a great souvenir!
Before play starts. *************** Play starts at 1pm on centre and No 1 court. However there is a lot to see and do if you can arrive early as we did. You will not be allowed into the main court area before 11.00 am but you are free to wander around the outside of the courts. If you have children then I highly recommend you take a look at the play tennis zone. All the games here are free and designed to test your tennis skills. My son was much faster than I was in the reaction game! There is also the opportunity to serve against a wall that will register your serving speed. We have someway to go to match some of the professional players!
In this area there is a café with tables if you fancy a quick snack. There is a toilet block here too, worth remembering when the queues for the toilets in the centre court complex are busy!
As son as the barriers were taken down we made our way to the practice courts in the hope of seeing some big names. Everything is well signposted and there are lots of helpful officials to give directions if you get lost! The practice courts are located just past the so called Henman hill. I was a bit disappointed that there was no seating and had to watch through a metal fence.
However as we wondered around the courts we spotted Venus Williams practicing on one of the outside grass courts. We were able to sit right at the front and watch was close range. Unfortunately she was not willing to give her autograph or even smile as she left!
We were much more impressed with Andy Roddick. Watching him practice his amazing 140 mile an hour serve was quite an experience!
Matches on the outside courts start at 12 and you are free to wander around watching parts of matches as you chose. There were seats available for every match we watched.
Centre court. *********** Centre court play starts at 1pm. I was surprised at just how big the court is However it is easy to find your way to your numbered seat as all the stairways are numbered. If you have mobility problems then there is a lift. Once inside you will be shown to your seats.
I suggest you get to your seats just before play starts to soak up the atmosphere. It is also a god time to take pictures before the crowds arrive! We were able to watch 3 matches, including Venus Williams, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.
If you need to leave the court you will only be allowed back in when the players change ends. The atmosphere was amazing and everyone we met was friendly and good humored. The seats are comfortable but if you want extra padding you can buy a Wimbledon seat cushion! On the day we were there it was extremely hot. I was relieved to find that our seats were under part of the roof structure giving much welcome shade.
Refreshments. ************ There are several food stands outside the entrance the centre court. The queues were horrendous in the middle of the day. My son wanted pizza and I wanted strawberries and cream. This meant queuing separately. The prices were better than I had expected with a generous slice of pizza costing £3.50 and a small bowl of strawberries and cream costing £2.25. If you fancy something more substantial then there are several cafes .I didn’t venture into any of these so have no idea of prices.
I would strongly advice you to bring food with you. You are allowed to carry in a small rucksack, so my advice would be fill it will your picnic and lots of bottles of water! There are lots of water fountains around the grounds to refill your bottles if you need to but again the queues to fill bottles as the day progressed were very long! I suggest you make sure you have plenty of full bottles before you enter the court. If I go again I will also be taking a large plastic container of strawberries!
Other information. **************** A day at Wimbledon is a wonderful experience but also very tiring! Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. There is no shade on the outside courts so bring a sun hat and plenty of sun cream. I also packed a can of spray water to help cool as down! If the weather forecast is for rain then come prepared!
Although we only managed to get one autograph you may have more luck, so come prepared with pens! The official programme has photographs of many of the big names and if you spot any then they may be happy to sign their photo for you!
There are several toilet blocks around the grounds with baby changing facilities and disabled toilets. I was surprised how clean they were despite the crowds.
If you have time then the Wimbledon museum is located inside the shop. We didn’t have time to explore but it does sound like it would be well worth a visit.
We decided to wait until the end of the day to visit the Shop. As you would expect it is not cheap! My son bought a Wimbledon cap for £16 and a tennis ball key ring for £3. The items on sale seemed to be of high quality. If you are interested in tennis then I highly recommend the Wimbledon tournament, it really was a fantastic experience!