The four Grand Slam Championships are tennis at its very best, but Wimbledon is the single-most important event in the tennis calendar. It’s the trophy most coveted by the greats of the game and, for the spectators, Wimbledon offers sporting drama every summer. Strawberries and Cream and world-class tennis – going to SW19 has always been high up on my bucket list.
I went to my first Grand Slam at The Australian Open last year. I was living in Melbourne at the time and simply couldn’t resist the allure of this massive event; it was almost 40⁰C, and I was wilting in the intense sunshine, but I loved every second of it. Seeing these amazing athletes going toe-to-toe at the net is tremendously impressive – I remember being amazed by the power and ferocity with which they hit the ball – but actually, the thing that stuck with me was the incredible atmosphere of the day. The Aussie fanatics were in full voice, throwing themselves behind the Australian players, and I couldn’t help but long to see Andy Murray play his home Grand Slam at Wimbledon too.
It’s difficult to describe how I felt when, just a few weeks later, I heard that dream might become a reality. My best friend had come up trumps in the Wimbledon ticket ballot – Centre Court tickets on men’s Quarter-Finals Day – I had to dare to hope that Murray could make it through the draw in the first week so that he would make an appearance when I was there. Nadal went out, Federer went out, but Murray managed to stay in – I was over the moon!
When you grow up watching an event like Wimbledon, year after year, it can feel totally surreal to finally be there. For me, going to the All England Club for the first time was like a pilgrimage and it didn’t disappoint. I can tell you from personal experience that strawberries never taste quite as sweet as when you have them at Wimbledon. Soaking up the atmosphere – and the sunshine, if you’re lucky – is a large part of what the Championships are about; you know there’s a buzz around the place when the Underground is alive with chat and laughter – the excitement was palpable, and that was partly to do with Murray doing so well.
His match was second on Centre Court. The first match was an incredible tussle between David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro, and even though the whole crowd was a bit exhausted we couldn’t wait to see the British number one. By the end of the second set however, when his opponent Verdasco was leading 2-0, I felt like a broken man. My hero was being humbled by a man he should beat, and my throat was hoarse from trying to cheer Andy on. I thought we were returning to the dark days of British disappointment. What happened next will always stay with me– Murray came back from two sets down to win the match in style, it was one of the greatest sporting comebacks in recent memory and I can forevermore say I was there!
Murray, of course, went on to win The Championships, the first British man to do so in 77 years. That’s not something that happens every year, but the real thrill of visiting The All England Club isn’t about the result; the sense of heritage, the immaculate lawns and the impressive stadia, and knowing that you’re in one of the greatest sporting venues in the world, make it worth the journey at any time of year.
I entered the ticket ballot again this year but sadly didn’t get anything – lucky then that I can get my tennis fix at the ATP Tour Finals at the O2 Arena later this year! And if Andy Murray can open a hotel and make a foray into my business, surely I could make a late showing at Wimbledon as a Wild Card entry? No? I’ll just have to keep watching then – there’s a real sense that anything could happen at this year’s Championships, and I can’t wait to see who lifts the trophy.
Are you a fan of Wimbledon? Will you be heading to SW19 this year? Let us know in the comments section below!