Wimbledon is everything England should be when it’s at its absolute best. It’s about summer and sport; champagne and strawberries; the green of carefully manicured lawns and the white of tennis players dressed for glory. Even the line-judges look as if they are about to stroll off court to join a garden party.
This year my lovely friend Sonia and I were lucky enough to have tickets for centre court in the second week. And my level of happiness was set to ‘historic’.
As soon as I stepped out of my front door, I was enveloped in a cloud of contentment. By the time my train had reached its first stop I was already texting friends and posting photos of my journey on Twitter. There was a point where I worried I may not actually make it to Wimbledon, but would burst with joy somewhere on the Southwestern Rail trainline.
I arrived about 4 minutes after the gates opened and the entire place was already thronging with people just as excited as I was. Everyone was chatting , taking selfies, and drinking it all in. In fact, the incredible friendliness of everyone, from the spectators to every single member of staff, suffused the entire event with good cheer.
Just to be able to sit on Centre Court was amazing (cue posing for multiple selfies, all of which I look terrible in), but to watch Serena Williams play, for me, that is a once in a lifetime experience. She’s so powerful that it’s easy to overlook how nimble she is around the court and how diverse her game is. She may not have won the tournament this year, but she won the match we saw, and she was awesome.
And it wasn’t just the tennis. We max’d out on the whole Wimbledon experience. We ate cucumber sandwiches and strawberries and cream, we drank champagne, and we had a cream tea. And then, when it seemed like the day might be almost over, we blew the doors off it in the Wimbledon shop. Everyone I know now has Wimbledon sweatbands, Wimbledon socks, a Wimbledon water bottle, a Wimbledon t-shirt, a Wimbledon pin-badge, a Wimbledon pencil-sharpener or some combination of all of the above.
Then we walked back to the train station in the warm evening air, chatting to a young woman who was working as a player escort (getting players to and from their matches). True to every other member of staff we met, she was an absolute delight. Not only did she tell us all the ins and outs behind the scenes and blow our minds with the sheer logistics of it, but she waited patiently as I stopped after every third step to take a photo.
Maybe some people who live in Wimbeldon are sick of it, but not the home-owner below, or shoe shop, or bar, or Farrow & Ball…
It was the Best. Day. Ever.
So thank you Sonia. Thank you for organising the tickets and thank you for being there. I am so lucky to have spent a day I will remember for the rest of my life with one of my best friends. Big hugs to you.
PS Writing this blog has reminded me of the brilliant joyful poem about tennis, love and Miss Joan Hunter Dunn by John Betjeman – if you’ve never read it, I recommend it!