Yesterday I had the most incredible experience, perhaps an experience which comes only once in a lifetime – I went to Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
After the incredibly long train journey (1 hour!), we arrived at Wimbledon in the sweltering heat, getting our bags checked whilst the palpable excitement built up inside us. Once we were in, the Grounds were a treasure trove – everywhere you looked there were players on the smaller courts, fellow tennis enthusiasts, players being escorted to their courts and hundreds-of-pounds worth of strawberries and cream; it was impossible to keep your eyes looking in one direction for more than two seconds. Henman Hill (or is it now Murray Mound?) was crammed with spectators, all watching avidly as some match or other unravelled before their eyes. Our excitement and awe was mirrored everywhere; everybody there, whether spectators, players or staff had an aura of excitement around them, the sense that anything could happen, anything which could change the course of tennis history encapsulated the very air we breathed and intoxicated all of us.
By about 12.50 we had settled ourselves in our seats on- would you believe it?- Centre Court, waiting very much impatiently for the first match to begin: Petra Kvitova of Czechoslovakia, the current champion of the Wimbledon Women’s Singles, vs. Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. The match was very quick – it only lasted 35 minutes – but Kvitova played so stunningly, with such conviction that by the time she had won the match in two sets, I knew that the day would be absolutely priceless.
Next on to Centre Court was the tennis player I had idolised, even had a bit of a crush on, since I first discovered tennis: Roger Federer, Seed No.2. When Federer walked into the stadium, the crowd erupted in applause, the entirety standing up in the presence of such a legendary tennis player; I was suddenly privy to tears in my eyes, as the thought dawned: I may never have this experience again. I may never be able to watch my favourite tennis player, on my favourite court, in my favourite tennis championship again.
Needless to say, I savoured every minute of that 1 hour and 7 minute match. I savoured being less than 100 yards away from my sporting idol, the sound of the tennis ball hitting his racket reverberating around the stadium and into my memory. I savoured the “oooh”s and the methodical claps which came with challenges of the ball, the sporadic shouts of “I love you Roger!” and the deafening applause when he won the match with three sets against his opponent Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia. As he left the court victorious, I swelled with pride: I had been there on Centre Court when Roger Federer had become one step closer to gaining his 8th Wimbledon Championship Title. And I am not going to lie, it felt good.
The third match to take place was Andy Murray against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, which meant that the court was once more visited by the ear-shattering applause, which could surely be heard by those in the Grounds, not to mention the rest of the world as they were recorded and broadcasted on television globally. It goes without saying that the 2 hour 11 minute match was further tennis gold; my eyes hardly left the ball, the forwards and backwards motion of my head forgetting the crick which was forming in my neck, my mouth hanging involuntarily open as the tension built up. The tie break of the second set was perhaps the most brutally intoxicating, complete silence emitting itself from every corner of the stands, yet Murray pulled through and played the rest of the match brilliantly, amid screams of “Finish it Andy!” and the climate of 35*C.
My words are utterly inept in conveying the experience at Wimbledon, which, despite being only Day 2 in the Championships, was wrought with tension, excitement and applause. It goes without saying that for the 7 hours in which I sat in my seat, the world outside Centre Court didn’t exist- every eye was glued to the ball and to the players which have and will make history. Yesterday I was the luckiest and happiest person in the world: I was sat on the most exquisite court in the world, watching some of the most exquisite tennis players in the world, in the most exquisite tennis championship in the world. Yesterday was a dream, a dream I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Wimbledon Scores for matches on Centre Court, Tues. June 30, 2015:
K. Bertens 1 0 D. Dzumhur 1 3 3
P. Kvitova 6 6 R. Federer 6 6 6
K. Kukushin 4 63 4 C. Wozniacki 7 6
A. Murray 6 77 6 S. Zheng 5 0
This post is dedicated to CF, SF and, of course, BF. You know who you are.