Jamal Thomas Rizvi scopes out the best places to take your strawberries and cream for a spot of tennis
So my favourite two weeks of the year have begun. On Sunday, after returning (no pun intended) from playing a club tennis match, I was greeted by the not-so-great romantic comedy, ‘Wimbledon’. Of course I watched the film until its conclusion, and as much as I was cringing at some of the cheesy lines and doubting whether any of the actors had actually played any tennis before, it certainly got me in the mood for this excellent fortnight of typically British sport.
For Tuesday, I have tickets for Centre Court, but in the meantime I will help all you Murray minions, Watson watchers, Federer followers and Sharapova supporters get a chance to see your favourite players. Everyone can watch the Championships on their home TVs, but seeing as though many of your homes are in London it only makes sense to give you guys the lowdown on where to find the big screens, with the big crowds, to watch the big – and the not so big – players.
For those of you that fancy supporting our British hopefuls with the backdrop of the one of the greatest British landmarks, St. Paul’s Cathedral, head to the free rooftop of One New Change. To those unlucky ones that are stuck inside on internships during the next gloriously sunny 14 days, on your lunch breaks (or however many breaks you can manage to swing) make your way to Canada Square Park, in the heart of Canary Wharf.
If you’re wandering along South Bank and have a hankering for some tennis, then The Scoop at More London, adjacent to City Hall, is the place to go. And finally, if all you Bloomsbury inhabitants are feeling lazy, but want a vibrant atmosphere, just make the 10 minute walk to King’s Cross Station where at Lewis Cubitt Square there are 50 free deckchairs for the most keen supporters.
However, if watching Wimbledon through a screen (no matter how big the screen) is not enough, then make your way down to SW19. The Wimbledon organisers are very good, and when people leave the grounds during the day they try and get as many people as possible to return their tickets, so that they can then resell them later that day for pocket change.
If you make the journey to the All England Club at around 3-4pm, you are almost guaranteed to be given at least a Grounds Pass, which would only set you back around £5. Giving you access to all the outside courts, and then if one of the matches on Centre or Number 1 Court runs late, you can head up to Henman Hill to experience the magic of Wimbledon at twilight. Or, you may even be lucky enough to get tickets to one of the stadium courts, which would still only set you back around £10-£15.
My favourite Wimbledon story is when, during the days of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, my family and I had managed to get ground passes for the day. At around 5pm we were walking past Centre Court when Alistair Campbell walked passed. My brother and I gave him our biggest smiles (we were probably kind of cute back then) and so he turned back and offered us his tickets. It turned out that he was heading home to watch the football – tennis was not his favourite sport, shockingly. Nevertheless, the day ended with all of my family being able to watch Murray vs Cilic on Centre Court, for free!
So, if you can, swan on down to SW19. Who knows what stories you could end up with?