What could possibly be more American than watching tennis on the 4th of July in England? Okay, maybe not so much, but that’s how I got to spend my 36th birthday!
I looked for tickets to Centre Court, #1 Court, or #2 Court, but everything was well beyond my price range. An interesting thing I’ve found about England is the lack of a secondary ticket market. Don’t get me wrong, it does exist, but there are so many rules an stipulations about how tickets can be sold and resold here. While I appreciate some of the rules as they relate to access, others seem to drive up prices artificially.
Nonetheless, there’s one way to always find yourself on the Grounds of Wimbledon. The queue! Literally branded “The Q,” some fans camp out overnight for the chance to see the premier matches. I chose to go down later in the afternoon and try my luck. Upon arriving, everyone gets a numbered ticket. These are only issued one per person to avoid people holding places. And, being they are numbered, you have to go in with the numerical order. So, if you have a friend that came 30 minutes before or after you, you cannot go in together. I actually like this.
I spent a little over 90 minutes in the Queue before making my way onto the Grounds. I will say the sight is quite impressive. I’d been following a hot match between the #9 player in the World, John Isner from the United States and his opponent Ruben Bemelmans. So, I beelined for that court as fast as a I could. Given that it was such a contested match, and in the 5th set, there weren’t any available seats. That was until the rain came!
Thanks to the rain, a lot of people cleared out, and I was able to get a seat. Unfortunately, not much tennis was played after that as the weather didn’t cooperate, they uncovered the court to let it dry, then covered it, then uncovered it again. While I didn’t get to see much, the little bit of tennis I was able to watch was well worth the wait.
Adding to the experience was the food and drinks. Having never really been a fan of Wimbledon (or tennis, for that matter), I had no idea about the traditions. My buddy, Eric Kotchi insisted I try the strawberries and cream. So, I did. Twice actually. Yes, I know it was just merely strawberries with cream poured on top, but it was delicious. The signs talked about how more than 2,000,000 strawberries were handpicked every year for Wimbledon. I also tried the Pimm’s — a refreshing English Summertime cocktail.