Wimbledon: For the Love of Travel and Tennis
It was my husband’s and my 40th birthday year and we thought why not celebrate with the two things we love to do – travel and tennis.
And so we decided to return to Wimbledon to watch The Championships; the most coveted tennis event on the planet. From Singapore, we travelled to London that summer (June 2016) without any tournament tickets yet, but with fingers tightly crossed and lots of hope that we would eventually get some.
The thing about Wimbledon is that it is extremely difficult, or 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 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 I fondly did way back in 2011. You can get to the Grounds but there may not be seats available on the main courts anymore. This is still worth a try because several matches are held on the Grounds anyway (not in stadiums). 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 but only one/two days before the matches but limits the number of tickets and number of days that you can watch.
And then there is that other (legitimate but rather expensive) option — 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) just across Victoria Station because this station has direct trains 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 two days before the match (online purchase was available only 1/2 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. There are a few ways to get hold of Debenture tickets but we got ours from Stubhub and Viagogo. The price for these tickets is determined by supply-and-demand, and for a round-1 at Centre Court, for example, the ticket could cost in excess of 10 times more than the actual price of £56.
But 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. 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.
By the way, it was interesting to see, explicitly written on the tickets, that wearing ripped jeans is not allowed if the guest wishes to access the restaurants. I wasn’t aware of this, although I knew we had to dress appropriately, so it was a good thing I did not bring along my favourite distressed blue jeans.
On days 1 and 2, we were on Centre Court. The great Roger Federer played so that already made our tickets (tennis tickets, plane tickets and all) worth every pound.
One advise if the main purpose of your travel to London is to watch the Grand Slam, is to make sure that you get seats on covered courts. That is because if it rains, the match will surely be interrupted or postponed in an uncovered court, which during our visit was basically all the courts in Wimbledon except the Centre Court. Retractable roof for No. 1 Court was being built when we were there.
On the first day that we were on the Centre Court, it rained cats and dogs. The matches on the other courts had to be postponed and some important ones were transferred to the Centre Court. Yes! 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 and No. 1 courts are where the top seeded players play hence they command the highest ticket price. The lower ranked but still highly seeded players play on the No. 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 that you have to do when in Wimbledon is to eat strawberries and cream. It’s a tradition! To be able to serve the freshest strawberries, they are apparently picked only the day before serving and 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 but not to the Centre, No. 1, 2 and 3 courts. Once on the grounds, you can already go to the common restaurants or souvenir shops.
One should never neglect the umpires, so we paid 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 from somewhere 🙂
He asked where we are from and when we proudly announced “All the way from Singapore,” he replied “Oh crazy people…” Hahaha crazy indeed, but it was all worth it.
And for tennis fans out there, enjoy these pictures!
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 sports 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 our time at Wimbledon – for tennis fans like us, the experience was like no other.
And if you have time, you may also want to check out my other blogs on this trip: