Saturday, July 01, 2006


As always, a helluva day. There aren't many things I'll get up at 4am for. In fact, there's nothing else, apart from a holiday, and even then I'd rather get a later flight.

One of the best things about Wimbledon is how fan-friendly it is. There aren't many other sporting events--and certainly no other grandslams--where tickets are available on the day for anyone to buy. You do, of course, have to queue for them. Ground capacity is 35,000 and at least half of those people--probably up to three quarters--will have queued outside for them. And when I say queue, I mean it's miles long. Get there at 6am (as we usually do) and you get a ground pass. If you want to get on Centre or No.1 Court, you need to be there overnight. The pavement on Church Street is basically a camp ground. Just to give you some idea, my queue card was numbered 972. We got there just after 6am. Play starts at 12. And when we left at 6pm, the queue was at least as far back as it had been when we joined it: and then, people were gaining entry on a one-in-one-out basis. Madness.

Still. Glorious weather and some fantastic tennis. And inside the grounds, it's really fan-friendly, since you can go and watch the players warming up on the practice courts, where I spotted Roger Federer and Justine Henin-Hardenne, or on the outer courts, where Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi were on adjacent courts. The players walk from the players' areas to the courts using the same walkways as everyone else (apart from on Centre Court, where they use the same walkways as the Queen), so you can see them just wandering around. Which is how I spotted Maria Sharapova and Agassi's old coach, Nick Bollettieri.

Andre Agassi--his last day at Wimbledon--he later lost to Rafel Nadal. This is his last season on the pro tennis circuit.

Nick Bollettierri (centre), Agassi's old coach and the founder of a pretty phenomenal tennis academy.
Justine Henin-Hardenne and Roger Federer--earlier, my brother the tennis player named these two as the most exciting players on the circuit. We spotted them both warming up on adjacent courts. Federer's partner was a rather hot blond guy; Henin-Hardenne's was a really gay-loking guy in skintight orange. I later found out he was her husband.
Maria Sharapova, fresh from victory on Court No.2: formerly known as the Graveyard of Champions. Didn't seem to do her any harm.

Rafael Nadal: just 20 and taking the tennis world by storm. This kid knocked out Agassi, and he's not even much of a grass-court player. Yeah, he looks like a Spanish cartoon character, but he's seriously amazing.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like much more fun than watching it on TV. Thanks for sharing!