The next week will be a big one for tennis. As we enter the final week of the US Open, many things remain to be seen. How will Andy Roddick, an American who announced that this will be his last tournament, end his once promising career? Will Federer be able to hold onto his number one ranking? Can Andy Murray, Olympic gold under his belt, finally win a major?
I hope you’re as excited as I am to find out the answers to these questions, but before we get ahead of ourselves I should warn you: this post isn’t actually about the US Open. It’s about another major tennis tournament.
This post is about the All England Lawn Tennis Club, home of Wimbledon.
One of the (many) perks of the study abroad program that I participated in this summer was that my time in London overlapped with the timing of Wimbledon, allowing me to witness top notch tennis twice in the span of one week.
Had I planned ahead? Bought tickets? Of course not. If you’ve ever watched Wimbledon before, even from TV, it doesn’t exactly look like a place for a sports fan on a college budget. How could I possibly get into a place like that?
The Re-sale Line
It’s easy really. Set your alarm for an ungodly hour – try somewhere between 4 and 4:30 (too early? just don’t go to sleep!). Hop on the tube. Try and relax during your tube ride; it’s a good 45 minutes away, and you’ll want your energy so you can get good placement in the queue. Now the important thing to remember when you get to your spot in the queue is to stay focused – don’t let the food vendors distract you. Sure a hot cup of tea sounds lovely and those bacon baps (British speak for a bun with bacon in it) smell heavenly, but you do not want to leave your patch of grass until you have been given your official queue card, which marks your existence/place in line.
Fast forward a few hours. Your queue card is safely in hand and the queue has finally begun to move. They check your number, send you on through security and up to the ticket office, where a grounds pass for the day only costs you 20 pounds. You have no reserved seat anywhere, but you are free to roam about the grounds, stopping to watch a few points here and there, munching on an order of strawberries and cream (or two or three), and just generally admiring what might be (in this fan’s opinion) the biggest, prettiest country club you’ve ever seen.
After you’ve gotten your fill of wandering around (or like us, after you’ve taken an entire day to do just that and now you’re back for more), you might want to head over to Wimbledon’s best business innovation: the re-sale line. See, the people who shell out the big bucks for fancy seats at Centre Court and Courts 1 and 2 don’t always stay through to the last match. And instead of letting those seats stay empty, the All England came up with a brilliant idea: resell those seats at a much lower price to the poor souls who couldn’t get in there in the first place.
This is where I found myself on July 2nd, the second Monday of the tournament, shivering and shielding myself from the drizzle, hoping that somebody richer than I was would get bored and head for home. Luck was a fan of the little people on July 2nd because me and nine other friends all got to see matches on Centre Court – for just 30 pounds – that’s less than $50.
It was still the early rounds at this point, so Novak Djokovic made pretty quick work of his opponent. But I got to watch Novak Djokovic play on Centre Court, at Wimbledon, for 30 pounds. Sounds like it’s worth getting up at 4:30 for?