Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Anyone for tennis?

It's very rare that I'll blog about anything that isn't rugby related, but I'll make an exception in this case because yesterday I spent the day at Wimbledon watching the opening day of the tennis. I say "watching", but at one point it looked very much like the day would have to be spent sitting in the County Enclosure, sipping wine and eating extortionately priced strawberries.

We arrived late morning and not only was it damp and drizzly but also bloody chilly. As the rain got heavier I dived into the official shop and fought my way through hoards of Americans buying every manner of official merchandise you can imagine, until I found the over-priced umbrella I needed. A bit naff in green and purple but it did the job. Then off to the County Enclosure where we ate a cramped lunch whilst listening to the announcements of doom - "no play expected before 1.30...no play expected before 2.00...no play expected before 2.30".

And then, somewhat unexpectedly, "Ladies and gentlemen, play will commence at 2.30". So off we went to take up our seats on Centre Court and what fantastic seats they were - a few rows up from the royal box directly behind the tennis. We had an excellent view as Roger Federer proceeded to demolish some Russian bloke in straight sets beneath dark and threatening skies.

Getting to see a whole match (albeit a very one-sided affair) was a major bonus and we were also able to indulge in some minor celeb spotting as off to our right were the likes of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Angus Deayton, Theo Paphitis and the legend that is Bruce Forsyth (I managed to control the urge to yell "good game, good game" you'll be pleased to know).

Next up was a ticket swap with the in-laws and the chance to see Justine Henin on Court One, but sadly we only managed a couple of games before a series of further rain delays sapped our enthusiasm and we decided to give up and head home.

That we missed the traditional Tiger Tim Henman five-set extravaganza in the early evening was a bit of a shame but I was nevertheless pretty impressed with my first visit to the tennis at Wimbledon. It feels a lot more compact than it looks on TV (never was "Henman Hill" more inappropriately named - it's really no more than a divot), the atmosphere is relaxed and the supporters stoic in the face of adversity. It really was quite unbelievable how cheery everyone was when faced with the very real prospect of no play at all as the heavens opened at lunchtime and all the weather reports pointed towards a washout.

How very, very British.

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