Monday saw the opening games of Wimbledon, and in a typical Kirbyesque last minute rush, my parents decided to travel down on Sunday night, on the overnight train from Edinburgh (which sounds more romantic than it is), to join the queue at 8am, hoping to see a few games and eat a few strawberries on Murray Mound.
I had to work that morning, unfortunately, but managed to join “The Queue” at about 1pm. Luckily, the sun was shining and I’d brought The Goldfinch along with me, which meant that the 4 hour wait to get in wasn’t too painful at all.
It was a great atmosphere whilst queueing – the marshalls were full of the joys of spring, reminding me of how much fun I had as a Gamesmaker in 2012. People were chatting to each other and playing cards, and generally making the most of the chance to just relax and do nothing (I myself got through over 200 pages of Donna Tartt, so I consider that time well spent). They were even handing out free coffees and squash to keep our energy levels up (I particularly enjoyed the bafflement of the American tourists next to me when they were offered a paper cup of squash).
I got in just after 5, probably due to a max exodus of fans following the Murray match, and duly paid the entrance fee for the grounds (£20 before 5pm, £14 after), and rushed to join my family on outside court number 16 to watch British hopeful Naomi Broady beat Timea Babos from Hungary. I didn’t know this at the time, but Naomi’s entry into Wimbledon was on a wildcard, so she did fantastically well to win this first game – and a tense one it was too, going to tiebreak in the second set, and almost ending early when Naomi slipped and fell, injuring her wrist. It was a very tense game and, although this might be a stupid thing to say, it really made a difference watching a match with a British player – I was so tense, and I hadn’t even heard of the players beforehand! (Full disclosure: I know next to nothing about tennis).
After this match, we had a quick Pimms break, which took a while because I had to go via the bank to get a second mortgage on my house (£7.80 each. Even as a Londoner used to sky high prices, my jaw dropped), and then visted Murray Mound to watch the big screen which was showing Centre Court, where Djokavic was in the process of winning his match against Golubev.
The big screen announced the availability of returns for seats on Centre Court and Courts 1 and 2 – and after consulting the boards to see who was playing we decided to catch the end of the Tsonga-Melzer match on Court number one – at only £5 per return ticket (£10 for centre court, all proceeds go to charity), who could say no.
Turns out we made the right choice. The match between Tsonga and Melzer was a blinder. Melzer seemed beset by bathroom troubles (hey, we’ve all been there right?) and received a warning from the umpire after his second hasty mid-set exit, and both players seemed determined never to let a shot pass them by as they played rally after gripping rally – Tsonga even attempting to make a shot from the floor after taking a tumble.
And then, from nowhere, the rain came.
What a shame! There was only one game left for Tsonga to win before he took the match, but Mr Weatherman had other ideas, and the covers had to be swiftly pulled over the court – so swiftly even, that the players hadn’t managed to get off the court yet.
But what an end to a great day. Even for a non-tennis fan as myself, I got swept up in it all and had a blast. If you don’t mind queueing, have an umbrella (even if it has been 25 degrees and sunny for the rest of the day, you can’t guarantee anything in this English summertime of ours), and have a soft spot for Pimms and strawberries in the sunshine. Oh, and like watching sport, I guess. Then Wimbledon is worth a visit. Come on Tim!*
*I know, I know. But this will never stop being funny to me.
Today’s quote is from Mitch Hedburg
PS My internet at home is down so this was written and edited on my phone. Apologies for any spelling and grammatical errors, and most likely I will change my choice of photos when I can see them on the big screen!