Wimbledon: For the Love of Travel and Tennis
Both my husband and I celebrated our 40th birthday last year and we thought of celebrating with the two things we love dearly – travel and tennis.
We returned to Wimbledon to watch The Championships; the most coveted tennis tournament on the planet. From Singapore, we traveled to London that summer (June 2016) without any tickets yet, but with fingers crossed and lots of hope that we would get some.
The thing about Wimbledon is that it is extremely difficult or could get insanely expensive to get hold of a ticket. For the public, like us, there are four ways of getting that golden ticket.
ONE is by Ballot, whose application ends in December of the year prior to the tournament. You’ll need tremendous luck for this one and you can’t even choose the day you can watch the games. TWO is by joining The Queue, which was what I did back in 2011. You can get into the grounds but there may not be seats on the main courts. THREE is by hospitality packages which could include the ticket, access to private lunches and drinks, accommodation and chauffeured transfers. And FOUR is via Ticketmaster, which sells tickets online a day or two before the match but limits the number of tickets and number of days that you can watch.
But also, there is that option to buy Debenture tickets. I’ll tell you more about it below so read on.
Check out the official website of Wimbledon as well for more info on tickets: http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/tickets/tickets_what_you_need_to_know.html#nav=400
How to get there:
The matches are held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon. Wimbledon is in southwest London and can be reached by car, cab or via the London Underground trains. Parking is quite difficult and you still have to walk a distance to the courts hence taking public transport could be a better option. Euben and I booked our accommodation at DoubleTree by Hilton across Victoria Station because this station has a direct train to Wimbledon. At Victoria, we took the westbound District Line and alighted at Southfields Station and then walked 15 minutes to the gates. Southfields is 10 stops from Victoria. You can also alight at Wimbledon Station but you’ll have to walk a bit further to the courts.
How we got our tickets: Ticketmaster and Debenture Seats
We allotted 3 days for Wimbledon and since we came all the way from across the globe, we were determined to get tickets for all those 3 days.
We were extremely lucky to be able to get 2 Centre Court tickets online at Ticketmaster a couple of days before the match. I say extremely lucky because the hundreds of tickets sold online that day were snapped up in seconds (!). If you are hoping to get tickets using this method, you’ll need a fast computer AND faster fingers. A round-1 ticket for the Centre Court costs £56.
For the next two days, we couldn’t buy tickets from Ticketmaster anymore and so we had to resort to getting Debenture seats. The price for Debenture seat tickets is determined by supply-and-demand, and for a round-1 at Centre Court, the ticket could cost 10x more than the actual price of £56.
Why do people buy at these exorbitant prices? Because it’s Wimbledon. And also because Roger Federer was there and it was our birthday! 🙂
In case you’re wondering if what we did was legal – well Debenture tickets are the only tickets that are transferable and can be sold in the open market, so the answer is yes. But apart from watching tennis from a premium seat, Debenture tickets give access to exclusive restaurants and lounges that are meant for Debenture ticket holders only.
It’s interesting to see on the tickets that wearing ripped jeans is not allowed if the guest wishes to access the restaurants.
On days 1 and 2, we were on Centre Court. Our idol, Roger Federer, played so that already made our tickets (tennis tickets, airfare and all) worth every pound.
One advise if the main purpose of your travel is to watch tennis, is to make sure that you get seats for at least one day in a covered court. That’s because if it rains, the match will surely be interrupted or postponed in an uncovered court, which is basically all the courts in Wimbledon except the Centre Court. Last year it was only the Centre Court that has a retractable roof but they’ve started to construct a roof for No. 1 Court as well.
On the day that we were on the Centre Court, it rained. The matches on the other courts had to be postponed and some were transferred to the Centre Court. It was lucky for us (more matches to watch) but frustrating for those in other courts.
To give you a rough idea, there are 19 courts in Wimbledon. The Centre Court is where the top seeded players play hence it commands the highest ticket price. The lower ranked but still highly seeded players play on the No. 1, 2 & 3 courts and the rest play on the ground courts.
No. 1 Court
We opted for the No. 1 Court on day 3 because we wanted to see Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Garbine Muguruza who would be playing there.
One thing you HAVE TO do when watching tennis in Wimbledon is to eat strawberries and cream. To be able to serve the freshest strawberries, they are apparently picked only the day before serving. Usually, the strawberries are sourced from Kent, England.
Besides tradition, I really do think the combination of strawberries and cream is delicious.
There is a Ground Admission ticket of £25 to enter the gates. This gives you access to all ground courts and not to the Centre, No. 1, 2 and 3 courts. Once you’re on the grounds, you can already go to the common restaurants and go shopping at the souvenir shops.
One should never neglect the umpires, so we gave them a visit too. There are more than 300 of these officials.
My photobomber knew we were taking a picture of him and was very kind to approach us to say ‘Hello’.
And hey I know this guy in from somewhere 🙂
He asked us where we are from and when we said “All the way from Singapore”, he replied “Oh crazy people…” Hahaha crazy indeed, but it was all worth it.
Here are some of the tennis superstars whom we watched during those 3 days:
When the day is over, usually around 9 pm, you can find a number of restaurants around Southfields Station. There were also shops that sell tennis equipment and apparel.
One evening, just a few meters from Southfield Station, we found this small bar and restaurant which sells this dish of British origin – the classic fish and chips.
Euben and I will always remember Wimbledon – for tennis fans like us, the experience was like no other.
I also went to Cambridge and picked strawberries in Kent. I wonder if they are the same strawberries they serve at Wimbledon?!
I’ll try to write about them very soon!