You can go to Wimbledon and see the tennis or you can EXPERIENCE Wimbledon, with The Fanatics. We decided that the best way to make sure that we saw the Aussies at Wimbledon was to do it with The Fanatics. And it was great!!
To get ‘normal’ tickets for Wimbledon you have to send a letter to The All England Tennis Club before December 15th the previous year. Then you cross your fingers and hope you get something from the ballot. Then there is ‘The Queue.’ The committee kindly leave 500 tickets at each of the major courts available to the general public, so if you queue early, you are guaranteed a good seat at either Centre Court, Court 1 or Court 2.
When the draw is released on the Friday prior to Wimbledon, The Fanatics choose which night to queue. Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Matthew Ebden were all drawn for Tuesday, so we queued Monday night. The Fanatics organisers arrived early afternoon with lots of tents. You pay only 5 pounds each for your tent. You also need to buy a Fanatics T-shirt and optional visor, cap or sunglasses.
Mid afternoon the Wimbledon stewards and ‘Honorary Stewards’ start handing out numbered queue cards, guaranteeing your place in the queue. You are then free to wander around, socialise, buy food or stroll down the street to the pub, off license, shops or whatever. This is a great time and you meet fantastic tennis fans from all over the world. The pub we went to for dinner had a fantastic atmosphere. Many people said that they love having the Aussies at Wimbledon.
The next morning they start waking people up at 5 am to pack up all your camping gear and form a proper queue in front of the early morning arrivals. You leave tents, bedding etc at ‘Left Luggage’ for a pound per item. The queue eventually moves off towards the gates and the stewards start allocating wrist bands according to the courts people want. Of course the Aussies all wanted Court 1 for Lleyton Hewitt v Tsonga, effectively snubbing Andy Murray and Rafa on Centre Court and Bernard Tomic on Court 2. Spoilt for choice!
The gates opened at 9:30, so the Fanatics all lined up at the Court 1 turnstiles. At 10;30 we were FINALLY let into the courts area. Play started on the outside courts at 11 am so we all headed for Matt Ebden’s match on Court 17. Near the start who should join us, but Patty Rafter!
Around 1 o’clock we went to our reserved seats on Court 1, only 8 rows from the court and directly behind the umpire.
Group leader Carl then orchestrated the songs. There were no rehearsals – could have spent some queue time? – but it all went pretty smoothly. The highlight for me was singing the national anthem in front of 1000′s, plus a TV audience of millions around the world. As we finished we receieved a great ovation and then our phones started receiving texts from people who had seen us live in Australia.
Lleyton played really well but he was no match for the powerful Tsonga, who must be a big chance in the tournament. Tsonga had 10 aces in the 1st set alone. To me, Lleyton is playing much better tennis than he was as the winner in 2002, but the game has moved up a few notches. He even said post-match that he couldn’t have done much more. We were all proud of him.
Aussie comedian Hamish Blake arrived during the match and sported a Fanatics cap and sunglasses. After the match he came down and spoke to all of us and put on a Fanatics T-shirt. Everywhere we went, as a group or individually, we were warmly acknowledged by the public. I did three media interviews: Daily Mail, The Australian (Jenny too) and Sky Sports!
After the Lleyton match we wandered around, had a couple of feeds and checked out play at many of the outside courts. Unfortunately, we just missed the finish of the Casey Dellacqua match. With our reserved seat on Court 1 we were free to go back any time, so late afternoon we strolled back for the Roddick v Blake (UK) match. Blake was matching him point for point in the first set, with huge British support, but lost in a tie-breaker before going down in straight sets.
In spite of the Aussie losses.. worst performance since 1938 apparently..we had an unbelievably good time and would highly recommend it!
Can’t wait until Friday for Australia v England at Lords!