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The Wimbledon Fortnight – Day Four: The Tour

As a proper tennis fan, I couldn't not visit the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. So we did.

“Mum, we’re finally here!” I shouted at her, even though she was standing right next to me. “I know!” she boomed right into my ear. Our smiles almost literally reached our ears, and I had to try my hardest not to break out into song and dance. We were standing at the Gates of Wimbledon – finally. I was too excited to focus on anything on particular, and therefore, this post might resemble a constant stream of emotions rather than a properly structured recollection of events. Oh, whatever. Read on!

Please ignore the hair. It was a long time ago. I look much better now. Those smiles are still the same, though.

I’ve been on countless city trips to London. I’ve visited the British Library, the Tower of London, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe, plenty of pubs, and all the other things one can visit there. But my favourite London thing, obviously, is Wimbledon! I actually went there twice – once with my mum, and once with both my parents. I’ll compress both visits into one post, because, really, my mood was exactly the same on both occasions.

We got lost the first time we walked towards the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. We didn’t quite know which Underground station we had to take, we didn’t know which way we had to go once we had arrived at the right one (obviously, the very first turn we took was the wrong one), and at one point we almost entered the Wimbledon Golf Club instead. Finally, however, we made it. We didn’t care that it was off-season and we wouldn’t see any actual tennis.

We had booked a Grounds Tour, and bought a ticket for the Wimbledon Museum. The first thing we saw was the giant Order of Play board, with Roger Federer’s final against Marin Cilic at the top left corner. Of course, being a massive Federer fan, I happily remembered that match, in which he crushed his opponent and ended up raising his eighth Wimbledon title, and I was actually getting slightly hysterical. As you can see on the picture on the right, my dad literally had to hold me down long enough for my mum to take a decent picture.

We had to wait around that board for the tour. A kind, tennis-loving guide showed us around the courts, starting with the small ones, then on to Court 18 (it’s not that big, but it does feature some amazing matches from time to time – including the Longest Match Ever, which lasted for three days) and Henman Hill. Eventually, we saw the rooms that you are usually not allowed to see: the BBC studios.

The BBC has been at Wimbledon since the 1920s, I believe. These two work together so well that the BBC actually had their own studio built there, which is quite special. I knew exactly what it looked like, of course, since I always watch the pre-match talks with Sue Barker and the post-match interviews with the players. We heard about some memorable interviews that were held there, and then the best thing ever happened: we were allowed to pose there, pretending to be a player. I loved and hated it: I had made sure to wear a white top, but I hated my hair, and oh boy, I realised that nobody is very pretty when they smile like a maniac. Take a look at the results here:

Thankfully, I was not a player having to do an obligatory interview, for words utterly failed me. Furthermore, all I had time for was to sit down, smile, and move on, anyway, for I was not the only one who wanted to know what it felt like to be there. So, after everyone had their moment in the spotlights, we moved on to the one thing everyone had been looking forward to. At least, I knew I had. From the moment we had booked the city trip to London, months earlier.

Have you ever been in a proper stadium? I had, but it was nothing like this. Imagine a small Elke, still dreaming of becoming a tennis superstar at one point, watching the best matches on tv. They were all playing at Centre Court. To me, that stage was where tennis turned into something more than just a sporting event. So when we finally arrived there, I pinched my mum to make sure I wasn’t dreaming (she was confused, too, and pinched me at exactly the same time). Dad, who is slightly more rational than we are, merely watched us with a smile on his face. This is where history was made: every player who has ever meant something in the world of tennis had made an appearance there. We were in awe.

I knew that nothing would ever beat this. This was it. So when we visited the Wimbledon museum afterwards, which really does have a couple of amazing items, such as trophies, rackets, and jackets of famous players, I didn’t quite register it. I was still feeling almost high after our Centre Court adventure.

Finally, we visited the store. And here’s one important thing about that you should know: I like buying stuff, especially when I’m happy. The store employees must have seen people like me all the time, and sure enough, they were smiling just as brightly as I was when they saw me carrying armload after armload of tennis memorabilia towards the till. I bought a poster, a shirt, and plenty of knickknacks – and I got a free bag!

I am not sure how long we had stayed at Wimbledon, all in all. It might have been an hour and a half, it might have been over three hours. It might as well have been ten minutes or four days. I didn’t care. Visiting this place had only confirmed how much I loved tennis. We promised each other that we’d be back.

Little did we know that only a year later, we’d be there for the real deal. Stay tuned!

Have you ever been to Wimbledon? Do you think I am a tennis nut? Should I tone it down a bit? What do you think of the hair? Do let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow if you want to receive an email whenever I’ve written a new post!

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