So I suppose I should start this by pointing out that I’m not a tennis nut. It may seem like that from what I say, but I know worse. I have friends who take 2 weeks annual leave during Wimbledon so they can see as much of it as possible and go several times both weeks. I don’t fall into that category, I believe. Some of you may wish to differ, that’s fine.
Wimbledon is one of my favourite sporting experiences. Part of comes from being a tennis player. Another comes from the place. A long time ago (now) I got Wimbledon fever, watching it on tele. Suspect it was before I went to senior school as I must have had the time to watch it a lot. For a lot of that summer I spent lots of time hitting a ball against the house wall in the back garden. Possibly fed up with the ‘thump thump thump’ continuously going on from that, or fear of a window going ‘crash’ instead, I was packed off to the local tennis club where my dad was a member, and things stuck. I was half reasonable, no great shakes, but it was something I enjoyed as well. Football had never been my thing, but this was different, and I could play singles and only have myself to blame or congratulate. I would spend hours at the club, either hitting with others or hitting against their practice wall (back of a garage). I was lucky with the club. It had 6 grass courts. Now-a-days that is a rarity, but it suited my game to a tee.
I actually got to go to Wimbledon a few years later when my dad got some tickets through work. I was lucky that he could get them most years and while he still worked there, I got to go most years. The atmosphere was great. A certain formality, but also a wonderful buzz. Having got the fever from the tele a few years previous, the reality didn’t disappoint. Since 1984 I’ve been more years than not. I’ve been lucky in the ballots and even managed to see some finals and some corking matches as well. I love going back to see what they have changed. I can remember when the food and drink was served in white marquees with wooden boards due to the mud. It’s more stylish now J. I love taking friends there, I almost see it as a chance for me to act as tour guide. Even though the action is on the courts, having a walk around always helps get a good vibe for the place. You can also tell a lot about the players when they have to get to the outside courts, but that’s a different story. There are certain things I will always buy when I’m there. A programme is a must and I’ve managed (somehow) to get one for every year since I first went, even if I wasn’t there in person. A keyring of a tennis ball is always on the list and has been since I first went. In more recent years I’ve added the towel as well as they have the year on them as well. I don’t use the towels, maybe I should!
For anyone who ever has a chance of going, I’d recommend it. The place isn’t perfect, but it is unique and in many respects beautiful. Everything is in the right colours, and to give you an idea of how important that is, I’ll finish with this little story. A few years back, due to terror threats, it was decided to put concrete crash barriers across the unused gates to the club. This was the right thing to do, there was no argument about that. However after one day, it was felt they weren’t quite right. Overnight the concrete was painted so that it matched the green and purple of the club. The permanent replacements are in the club colours. There is something very English about that, however it is certainly very Wimbledon.
I’m going again this year and looking forward to it. Camera will be charged, I’ll try to remember to post some photos when I get the chance. However given there’s going to be a lot of tennis on the tele over the next two weeks I might not post much till it’s over! So am I a tennis nut. I think that’s a yes and a no.