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After so many years of planning, I finally watched this much-awaited annual British lawn tennis tournament and had a quick tour inside Wimbledon ground. I started my fascination with the sport when I was in Bangkok (17 years ago) while joining with Filipino friends watching its live TV coverage in a cable sports channel. I tried to learn the game, but since I was also playing badminton regularly during that time, it was difficult to change the grip of the racket. A shoulder movement is required for tennis while in badminton is a wrist stroke, so I sticked with the latter. It was a monumental experience to be there for the whole day and witness the event unfolding in the cool summer of 2010. It was a frustrating day to some players and fans especially when Venus Williams lost against the Bulgarian player, Tsvetana Pironkova; and Kim Clijsters against Vera Zvonareva and of course the unexpected defeat of the defending champion, Roger Federer who lost against Tomas Berdych. Aside from Zvonareva who won against Pironkova, Serena Williams, Nadal and the British top player Andy Murray, including my favourite player Novak Djokovic advanced to the semis round. It was nice to watch new and unknown challengers during the final round of the tournament, but Nadal and S. Williams won the tournament. I got a day ground pass for 17 pounds, inclusive of watching games from several courts, except for Centre Court, Courts 1 and 2. I was lucky to be in the queue for less than an hour and I immediately entered the Wimbledon premises, two hours away from the start of the games (12 noon). I toured around the playing ground and even went inside Court No.2 to snap some photos of the court. I also explored its facilities/amenities, including the souvenir and food shops. I bought some interesting postcards for 1 pound each, including yellow (ceramic flat ball) magnetic holders for presence. The most memorable part of the day tour was to have a free personal souvenir photo shot (with matching court at the background) sponsored by HSBC, and a single print (4X6 size) was ready in few minutes of waiting. HSBC was quite generous because people were also given individual coupons for free strawberry smoothies! Indeed, it was a fun day watching the rallies between players and hearing their growling/moaning inside the court! If you are interested to attend the 2011 championships slated on 20th June to 3rd July, you can apply for the PUBLIC BALLOT which allows you to watch the games at Centre Court, No.1 and No.2 courts. There are limited seats available on the eve of the day of the play for the Centre Court (on a daily basis), however it is very expensive and the queue is unbearable. The Public Ballot is open worldwide and the application form can be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope or an International Reply Coupon for foreign applicants starting from 1st August until 15th December 2010. Only one application per household and this public ballot does not automatically guarantee a seat or ticket. Tickets are by randomly allocated by the computer and not possible to request tickets for specific days or courts. Some of the brief highlights happened inside the Wimbledon ground since the tournament started its international championship in 1900 (taken from various sources both online and prints): - American player, May Sutton was the first Ladies champion in 1905 and won again in 1907 - Australian player, Norman Brooks was the first foreign Men's champion in 1907 - In 2009 (June 30), the Central Court's retractable roof was utilised for the first time - In 2010, 48,949 minutes of tennis were played during the tournament before the first raindrops fell in the venue. - For 2010 championships, the men's and ladies' singles winners receives 1,000,000 million pounds prize and the total winning money for the entire competition is 13,725,000 pounds - Andy Roddick has the fastest serves record of 143 mph and Venus Williams of 124 mph - More than 54,200 Slazenger balls are used during the two weeks event - Hats and caps are top selling souvenirs amounting to 36,632 pieces, including 22,100 tennis towels - Around 28,000 kg of strawberries are consumed at Wimbledon - 11.2 million watched the event thru BBC One; and - 359 million page views of the official website Generally, the Wimbledon ground has the complete amenities and support facilities to ensure players, guests and spectators will enjoy the games. It has big billboards fronting the main entrance of the ground that show the current standing of the players as well as the daily matches with the corresponding courts where the matches will be played.
I suppose the name Wimbledon has over the years become solely associated with the world famous tennis championships. Whether this has done good things for the borough or not, it's hard to tell. I have been to Wimbledon countless times, all of which were to watch the tennis. It is a great occasion that will set you back a lot. I have entered the ballot for the last 5 years and not been successful, and so last year I decided to go and queue up, which is something that I definitely recommend. We arrived at 4.30 in the afternoon on the day before and set up our tent in a queue. We received the ticket slip and went off for the night out. We had to return by 3, and at 6 the queue started to edge its way down the golf course. By 9 we were in, and I watched not only federrer and Nadal, but also Murray Djokovic on centre court. The best thing about all this way the price of £20 for a centre court ticket. It wasn't too much of a hassle in the end. I was astounded at the food pricing in wimbledon. This is not just to say the tennis food, but also in the surrounding shops and restaurants. I assume that during those two weeks everything just doubles in price!
Wimbledon is the greatest tennis spectacle about, but the organsiation and facilities at Wimbledon are abismal. Furthermore the tickets are an absolute rip off, ranging from expensive to quite simply ridiculous. If your lucky and win a ballot draw a ticket still costs £60 or more, and if you happen to be going on a day where its rained out but somehow their is 2 hours or more of play, you don't get a refund nor do you get an exchange ticket for another day. Its a massive scam. The food and drinks at the grounds is so bad its almost not edible. You pay £3 or £4 for a bottle of coke! Henman Hill is always overcrowded and the grass smells of rot and very dirty, so its probably worth standing up. It's better off just watching it on television, unless your lucky enough to be going to Wimbledon on a hot scorching day and it's federer vs nadal. This is the only match up worth paying money to see as evident by last year's 2008 epic final, which nadal thoroughly deserved to win.
Wimbledon is very much a place in its own right. It comes across more as a town in its own right than as a generic commuter housing area for London. I'm not much of a one for pretty areas, and Wimbledon is a very pretty area, but I'm rather fond of the place despite that. I'm going to use this op to describe what Wimbledon's like to live and work in, and if that's not what you're interested in, you can stop right here. I'd better start off with a bad point. Considering the fact it's South of the River and 20 mins away from the centre it is expensive. Very expensive. Where I work, every other car's a porsche and every other shop sells designer clothes (well not quite, but it must be getting close). This is Wimbledon Village - Wimbledon's posh end. Now if someone had said this to me before I started working here I'd have said give over, Wimbledon's posh all over, but the village it really is posher. Actually, that makes it quite a nice place to be. The people here certainly don't make me feel excluded. They make me feel like one of them (which I'm not, my car's an eleven year old Citroen AX diesel, a long way from a Porsche). The added bonus is that the charity shops up here (Wimbledon Village is up Wimbledon Hill) have barely worn designer clothes in them (admittedly at prices I'd usually pay for new clothes, but look at what you're getting for it). If that's your thing, I particularly recommend the British Red Cross shop which is just at the beginning of Ridgway. Of course the sandwiches round here cost £2 a go, but I assume they've got ground rent to cover. Right, now you know what I do in my lunch hour, it's time to venture back into the heart of town. The heart of town is still posh and still expensive, just less so than Wimbledon Village. It's served by train, the District line, a tram that I think goes to Croydon and more buses than you can shake a stick at. Like Wimbledon Village, despite its poshness, it feels comfortable and home-like. I felt instantly at ease here. You walk out of the station only to come face to face with a number of coffee houses and bakeries along with Centre Court shopping centre (yeah, I know, but a nice shopping centre all the same). Centre Court (the shopping centre one - or the real one, as I now think of it as) is full of clothes shops ranging from H&M to Debenhams, with most of your middling budget fashion shops in between, as well as a Superdrug, a Boots etc. Then, opposite the station there's a Waterstones, a Smiths and a Books etc. If they're too expensive or too ecologically unsound for you, you can turn to your right, walk a few hundred yards and visit the medium-sized library, which as libraries go is OK (I've spent a lot of time in libraries and 'OK' is an excellent and accurate description of the Wimbledon facility). There is also a Sainsburys, a Safeway, a Tesco Metro (an excuse to offer a smaller selection of products at higher prices) and a Woolworths. (If you've got a car go along the A3 to New Malden's Tesco or Roehampton's Asda.) If nightlife's what you're after, Wimbledon has a reasonable sized, predictably expensive cinema, a Po Na Na's, a large selection of restaurants of a variety of national origin, at varying price. For good value I particularly recommend the Chinese Restaurant near Woolies where a group of us got an excellent meal at about £10 each including the wine. Eating out in Wimbledon is, surprisingly, not particularly expensive by London standards. Drinking in pubs, on the other hand, is very expensive and not particularly satisfying. You remember 'My bank is now a trendy wine bar', well the spitting image of that trendy wine bar (possibly the very one, I've not asked) resides in Wimbledon, and for the amount of money you hand over for a round, you'd think it was still a bank . There are a number of such venues dotted around the centre, playing very loud music and charging a fortune, which would be fine, were it not for the fact that there seem to be very few alternatives, for when you're with people you'd quite like to have audible conversations with. There are still proper pubs about, but they seem somewhat lacking in atmosphere, and not particularly good value for money either. Hmm, hadn't realised I was so bitter about our pub-life. It's not been that bad. It's just not that good either, and I tend to avoid the centre for pubs. Incidentally, if you want to meet people trying to meet rich people, go to the pubs in Wimbledon Village. They're full of people who come along on a Friday night hoping to pull a rich bird, and finding nothing but likeminded souls. What else is there to mention? Oh yes, I suppose I ought to tell you how expensive it is. For £70 a week you can get a double room in a slum. Wimbledon's slum landlord advertises in the library on a grubby looking card, using an Asian woman as a contact point. Avoid his rooms unless you want to get diptheria. For £80 a week you can get a single room away from the centre. For £1,800 a month you can get a one bedroom flat. Fot £125,000 you can buy the cheapest thing in the estate agent's window. For £1 million you can probably get quite a nice 2 bed semi. There are also other parts of Wimbledon. The District line stops at Wimbledon South, but I've never got out there. If you get out the train at Raynes Park and wander back a bit you reach West Wimbledon which is a pleasant suburban area with a lot of parks (don't be fooled by the Raynes Park station area, it changes drastically when you reach the parish boundary). Talking of parks, Wimbledon Common is massive and varied, with a golf course in the centre and many people going for walks on it on Sunday afternoons. Along with many others of my generation, I searched for w ombles, but I found none. I have not given up hope, There are large areas of woodland which would provide excellent cover for them. Then there's the bit where they play the tennis - very similar to West Wimbledon, but on the other side and not next to the Common. There is also a tube stop on the Northern line at Wimbledon South. My only knowledge of this area is that it has a kebab shop. I have no idea whether that is representative of the area or not. It's also on the side of town that the cinema and the Wetherspoons are on. Oh yeah, I forgot to say earlier, Wimbledon also has an Argos (a very important indicator of a town's size and prosperity to my way of thinking). All in all, I do recommend both living and working in Wimbledon, just make sure you're earning a lot of money to do it, as your dough won't stretch very far.