The traditions and peculiarities of that great British institution Wimbledon are what make it my highlight of the sporting calendar. Where else produces an annual ‘guide to queuing’ and welcomes visitors to the strains of a string quartet?!

As a seasoned visitor, I’ve learnt a few tricks to get the most out of a day at the hallowed grounds of the All England Club. If you aren’t lucky enough to get a ticket for one of the show courts through the public ballot, a ground pass is an excellent alternative. The best days to go if you’re hoping to see one of the top players are Monday and Tuesday during the first week. At this stage of the tournament, there’s everything to play for and the outside courts (3 – 18) play host to some of the world’s finest tennis talents. Bag yourself a courtside seat and you never know who you might see. Over the years I’ve witnessed the Williams’ sisters annihilating their opposition in the doubles, Jo Wilfred Tsonga giving a masterclass in how to get the crowd on side and nine-time singles champion Martina Navratilova schooling opponents twenty years younger.

You can’t just stroll up to the gates at 10am and expect to get a ground pass for the day though– there will be queuing and you’ll need to be prepared. If you join the queue any later than 7.30am you can pretty much kiss goodbye to getting in before lunch time. Arrive as early as you possibly can and you’ll be handed a ‘queue card’, numbered to show your position in the queue and prevent any pesky queue jumpers. An impossibly polite steward will show you where to join the line and you can usually then set up camp for a couple of hours before being ushered through security to the main entrance. This might sound like a lot of waiting around but you can get comfortable on a blanket, bring your own food, check out the order of play and plan which courts to head for. Look out for the freebies too, quite often you’ll be offered free fruit juice, shots of coffee and snacks by big brands out for press coverage.

Unsurprisingly, security is tight at the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Don’t get caught out by restrictions on what you can and can’t bring and read the rules online before packing your bag. It’s often assumed you can’t bring your own food and drink into the grounds but the regulations are surprisingly generous – you can even bring a bottle of wine in. Come armed with plastic cups, don’t bring anything that needs a corkscrew and make sure you have icepacks in your cool bag.

If you manage to get in before play starts, head up to the Aorangi practise courts. This is where you’re likely to see Andy Murray honing his serve or Federer finessing his backhand on their days off in between matches. Be sure to spend some time soaking up the atmosphere on Henman Hill too, or Murray Mount should I say. You can watch the Centre Court and Court 1 matches on the big screen and enjoy a picnic at the same time. A couple of weeks ago I was writing about London’s best picnicking spots and neglected to mention Henman Hill – it beats Hyde Park hands down. Just make sure you observe the hill etiquette – so no bobbing up and down in front of people during play, no umbrellas blocking the view and above all no ‘hilarious’ heckles of ‘Come on Tim!’

With our World Cup dreams in tatters and the English cricket team hanging their heads in shame, could Andy be our last hope of sporting success this summer? Get yourself down to SW19 and find out!

 

Josephine Home- Found in Every Good Home