The Championships, Wimbledon
Nothing says ‘British summer’ quite like the Wimbledon Championships. That’s not because we get to enjoy day after day of blazing heat, though. Instead, for two weeks, we are treated to a full spectrum of British weather, from bright, luteous sunshine to angry, torrential downpours. Thankfully, since the installation of a retractable roof over Centre Court in 2009, those with seats in the world’s most celebrated tennis arena needn’t miss a beat; the action will continue unhindered. If you do happen to have tickets for Court One, or one of the show courts, the occasional shower is unlikely to dampen your spirit too much; grab a glass of Pimms, defiantly dunk your strawberry in some cream and snap open an umbrella. The atmosphere at SW19 is sure to keep a smile on your face. If Wimbledon 2013 passed you by, you must have been living in a cave – Andy Murray emphatically ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a home singles champion, drubbing world number one Novak Djokovic in straight sets. The fanfare, needless to say, was considerable. The victory itself was especially sweet for Murray, who had endured a crushing loss to Roger Federer in the final one year before. Inevitably, then, 2014 will pose one question: can he do it again? Elsewhere, a new Wimbledon ladies’ champion will be crowned: last year’s winner, Marion Bartoli, retired soon after lifting the Venus Rosewater dish. Moreover, there’s the doubles, juniors and invitational events to look forward to.
The clue’s in the title of course, but the Championships get under way at the All England Club, in Wimbledon, in the southwest of London. Widely considered to be the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon’s success is a mark of the expertise of the ground staff, who keep all 19 competition courts – plus 14 practice courts – in immaculate condition throughout the fortnight. The major battles will invariably commence in the stadia of Centre Court and Court One, but many a titanic duel has taken place on an outdoor court: who can forget the Isner-Mahut match in 2010, which ended 70-68 after three consecutive days’ play!
The ballot for Wimbledon 2014 tickets has already ended; the closing date for applications was 31 December, 2013. Should you strike it lucky, you’ll be more concerned with booking time off work and securing accommodation, but if you’re still ticketless, fear not: you can always join The Queue. Wimbledon remains one of few major UK sporting events that allows punters to purchase premium tickets on the day of play. Simply rock up with your cash or card and, providing you’re there early enough, you’ve got a great chance of passing through the turnstiles. The queue for the 2014 Championships commences at 8am on Sunday, 22 June.
I Providing he remains injury-free, Andy Murray will begin the defence of his men’s singles title on Centre Court on June 23. The tournament itself runs until July 6 – if the weather remains somewhat reliable! Men’s finals have, in the past, had to be postponed until the Monday, though this hasn’t occurred since 2001. If you have tickets for the final, congratulations! But it’s best booking Monday July 7 off work just in case! At Wimbledon 2014, there’s certain to be plenty of excitement and action: laughter; tears; monumental victories and agonising defeats. Who will be left standing at the end?
Wimbledon: tennis in London
Wimbledon isn’t the only grass court tennis tournament taking place in London in June. The final warm-up event, the Aegon Championships, takes place at Queen’s Club, in west Kensington, from 9 - 15 of June. Same rules apply: a ballot for tickets has already closed, though ground admission tickets will be sold from 10am on Wednesday, April 16, via the official website. If you fancy hitting a few balls yourself, London has no shortage of public courts. The LTA’s official website has an interactive map, so you can see which locations are handiest.
Wimbledon: other attractions
Unless you’ve got tickets for every single day of play – and if so, I guess you’re the world’s luckiest tennis fan – you’ll probably want to see a bit of London when you’re in town. Whatever you feel like getting up to, the Big Smoke has plenty of attractions to keep you entertained. Grab food and watch the street entertainers at Covent Garden, enjoy some sightseeing on an open-top bus tour round the city, or visit some of the planet’s finest museums and galleries, like the Tate Modern and the iconic British Museum. For something different, why not take the Jack the Ripper tour in Tower Hill? Shudders all round.