It's fitting that the final grand slam I attended of the four was Wimbledon. Having watched professional tennis for 20+ years, well that's many an hour I've spent watching Wimbledon. I first recall watching it in my teens when the coverage in the US was on HBO. We didn't have HBO growing up so I was forced to watch Wimbledon illegally, with a fuzzy picture, grey lines and odd noises to accompany the tennis.
Seriously, people who started watching sports after creation of the internet have no idea how hard it used to be.
So the final hurrah of my five-week tennis dream trip just had to be Wimbledon. I was too disorganised to get tickets beforehand so I knew 'the queue' awaited. I have some strong opinions about the ridiculousness of the queue but my mate and I got up at 3am to join the queue and hopefully secure a showcourt ticket for day 1. All I can say is that there is little else on this planet that will get me up at such an hour to stand/sit/freeze/melt on a rainy Monday 'summer' morning in England. Ah, tennis.
All these feelings mostly evaporated the closer we got to the security line and the first seconds of Radio Wimbledon as background sounds put the biggest, proudest smile on my face.
That smile remained as we got near security, and the anticipation was palpable. I was nearly at Wimbledon! Once we finally were able to get into the gates it was just awesomeness. The beautiful green and purple colours everywhere, that amazing green grass...it was all just as stunning in person as it is on TV.
Henman Hill/Murray Mound, signs for Pimms and strawberries and cream - it's all there and it's all wonderful. As soon as we arrived I walked around to see what was going on and just happened to get front and centre to watch Rafa practicing with Feli Lopez. I got such a great position that when he left the court I could have easily gotten an autograph...but I already got one in Melbourne this year and thought getting a close up pic was more important.
I also watched Francesca Schiavone warm up, a bit of Vera Zvonereva and then plopped on Henman Hill to watch a bit of Venus Williams before play started on Court 1.
When we went to be seated on Court 1 my eyes bugged out when we were ushered to the sixth row! The usher saw my face and asked me if the seats were close enough for my liking. I know I must have been grinning like an idiot. So that's what you get when you queue!
We saw Vera Zvonereva beat young American Alison Riske in three sets, then I ran off to do a lap around the grounds. I wanted to see the end of Rafa's match from Henman Hill and then was back to see Tomas Berdych...that match was over in a flash and then it was finally time for me to see Andy Roddick. ARod has always managed to avoid me, either losing early or me not being able to get a ticket when he played. So yeah, finally I get to see him.
Except a few minutes into his warm up, it rained. So I got to see him for about 5 minutes.
Sorry, but rain delays suck. So disappointing and it's hard to know whether to stay or go...I held out about 45 minutes before it all was too wet to remain and we huddled under the stadium waiting for good news...but it kept bucketing down. So we decided to try and get to a place on Court 1 that allowed us to see the big screen, where they were showing Centre Court action. We watched the last 10 minutes of Fran vs Jelena Dokic and then threw the towel in and left for the day.
Wasn't the end of tennis though, and we went to a pub to watch Murray's first match.
What a day, and though I felt seriously ill for a good part of the afternoon (thanks 3am start!) it was amazing to be there for the opening day of Wimbledon. I had hoped to go back the next day but I am not hard core enough for that, so took Tuesday off and returned on Wednesday. More on that day soon....