Every year I’m glued to the television when Wimbledon is on and every year I lament the fact that I haven’t got tickets. So after Wimbledon 2015, I made sure that I would remember. I made a note in my calendar when the ballot opened so that I couldn’t miss the deadline. In September the reminder popped up and I duly sent off for the form and returned the completed form in double quick time.
I’ll be honest, I then forgot about it until one bleak day in February when a non descript white envelope arrived in the post. I rarely get post these days that isn’t trying to give me money (in the form of a loan or new credit card that is) or asking for money so didn’t really think anything of it. When I opened it though – the excitement began. I first noticed the Wimbledon logo and then the words ‘ballot successful’. And it just got better – Centre Court, pair of tickets….Friday 8th July 2016. At that point I started bouncing around the room – Friday 8th July is men’s semi final day, and I had Centre Court tickets! I’d get to see Djokovic and maybe Murray and Federer too! I had a few days in which to pay or the tickets would go back into the ballot. I didn’t need to think, I paid straight away.
The tickets themselves didn’t arrive until May and at that point I had no idea where we were sitting. I opened the envelope with the tickets and saw gangway 114. I had expected to be high up so this was no surprise. I googled the seating plan for Centre Court and imagine my surprise when I discovered gangway 114 was in fact court side and the tickets were for row C. Could this really be right – could I really be only three rows back on the best court in the world for the semi-finals of the best tennis tournament in the world? It seemed so and I was bouncing around the room with excitement again.
Following much excitement in the lead up and, of course, avid watching of the tournament so far, the day finally dawned. My expectation to see Djokovic had been dashed but I was not perturbed. Still not quite believing I had such good tickets, I did half expect to get turned away at the gate. But that didn’t happen and here I was at Wimbledon drinking in the atmosphere and looking at all the familiar places. The first tennis we saw was the semi-finals of the men’s wheelchair singles. This is the first year that wheelchair singles has been played at Wimbledon, so much as it was great to see, it does feel somewhat sad that it has never been played here before. We watched about a set and the tennis was amazing. It’s very different as the players are much closer to the ground so the angles are completely different. This made it just as exciting as any other match and we had the privilege of seeing Gordon Reid who not only went on to win Wimbledon but also the Gold Medal at the Rio Olympics. We left only because it was time to head to Centre Court, via the shop in which we spent a small fortune!
We had ordered a Wimbledon picnic which we picked up at the food court. A brass band was playing and as we rounded the corner to pick up our food they burst into a rendition of the theme tune used for the BBC coverage – perfect timing and perfect lead in to our walk out onto Centre Court.
Still not quite believing our tickets could possibly be so close to court side, we headed into Centre Court looking for gangway 114. There was no mistake, we found our seats which were perfect. Three rows back from court side, in line with the service line at the Royal Box end. I felt quite overwhelmed as I stood there gazing around me. And there on the other side of the court was Sue Barker chatting to John McEnroe, a chap whose back was to me and for a moment looked just like Donald Trump, but it was only Boris Becker. There was a third man and I couldn’t work out who he was from behind. It could be Tim Henman as this was just before a British player was aiming for a Wimbledon final spot but it just didn’t quite look like Tim. When they moved, and the mystery man turned round it was clear that it was Lleyton Hewitt.
The first semi-final was between Roger Federer and Milos Raonic. The players came out onto the court and the atmosphere was amazing. Roger Federer came to the Royal Box end of the court to warm up – we were so close I could almost tickle his knees! I then turned around and the players’ box was just behind us and standing there was Mirka, Mrs Federer.
The match was amazing – five sets of incredible tennis from both players. I was firmly on Roger’s side and cheered and shouted for him with the rest. Sadly it was not to be and Raonic took the match on the final set. He was a worthy winner and it was an incredibly exciting match. But the day was not over, there was another match to come and our very own Andy Murray. However, after 5 gruelling sets of tennis a comfort break was needed and the best time to go as we didn’t miss any of the tennis.
Andy Murray was in charge of his match from the first ball. It was a master class in tennis and Tomas Berdych really was never in it. So as fantastic as it was and great to see our home grown talent up close, the match was not as exciting as the first one.
What a day – we headed home giddy with the excitement vowing to apply for tickets for Wimbledon 2017, though I can’t believe we could ever be as lucky two years in a row, but you never know…