Wimbledon! We made it!
My first time to Wimbledon. Dana's second. And it really does seem as great as everyone says. And this completes my slam. I have now gone to all the Grand Slam events.
Besides the very pleasant weather, I think the distinguishing characteristic of Wimbledon must be how very pleasant everyone is. I have not found anyplace on the grounds without a very pleasant person to help find your way. The servers in the restaurants, the people who attend the gates, anyone passing out programs. No matter where we went we had the bright smiles of happy, helpful people to greet us.
We went with a pretty high end tour. That meant we stayed in a nice hotel (the Grosvenor House, a Marriott just across from Hyde Park) and had a chartered van to take us to and from the tennis center. Nothing could be easier.
We had perfect weather for almost the entire trip. We always had cool temperatures, but never cold. The sun stayed out with only one short shower during tennis tennis, and they handled that quickly with the roof on Centre Court. (Not to mention the entertainment value watching them cover the court, close the roof, and get the courts ready to go again.) The layout of the grounds makes it easy to walk and time outside always feels pleasant. And like all the slams, Wimbledon has a particular personality. The green of the grass is wonderful to see.
Dana asked which one was my favorite. Certainly, I tend to like the last one best, but I think Wimbledon wins the competition. The temperature, the attitude, the appearance, and the facilities combine to make it the best experience I have had at a slam.
Our days began with a 40 minute van ride through London to the tennis grounds. The van dropped us off at the entrance on our tickets and we entered the groups in seconds. That put us on the grounds about two hours before the main tennis matches began. Some minor matches started early on the outside courts that we could watch, and after the first day we figured out that we could grab an early seat on Court 12 and usually watch some very good tennis until the show matches began on Centre Court. Restaurants connected with Centre Court served lunch and dinner each day. At the end of play, we grabbed the van back to our hotel. We had three days like that with full access to Center Court. It could not have been nicer for us.
We gave ourselves some extra time in London to enjoy the sites. On our first day, we visited parks, Westminster Abby, and eventually to Lock and Co. Hatters, the oldest hat maker in the world. We got special attention from the creative director who told us they had been around since 1609 and gave us a back shop tour. They’re the people who have fit all the crowns for coronations since then and who make the hats for all formal occasions for the royal family. Picking out a hat is one of my favorite things I have ever done in London.
We also took a boat tour on the Thames to visit and the Prime Meridian. They also had a museum for the Cutty Sark, the fastest sailing ship of the time.