Every summer in early July, half of Britain turns out to watch their most beloved sports tournament: Wimbledon. It’s a tradition that dates back 141 years to a time when the rackets were made of wood, tea time was treated like a rite of passage, and lawns were reserved for royalty. Today, things have slightly changed but it is more popular than ever and here are our picks of how to enjoy Wimbledon if you can’t get a ticket!
Now in the modern era, Wimbledon has evolved into a global phenomenon, one that involves nations from around the world and a lot of tennis fan frenzy. In fact, 24 million people watched Wimbledon last year in the UK alone. It sits as part of the big four grand slams, alongside the Australian Open, The US Open, and the French Open.
This year all eyes are on Roger Federer to reclaim the Wimbledon championship, after winning the competition last year. So successful was he that the Swiss giant became the first man to win the tournament without dropping a set since Bjorn Borg did so in 1976.
But if you don’t have a ticket offering you the chance to swoon over the greatest player of our time, there are many other ways to enjoy the tournament with other fans. These places allow you to immerse yourself in Wimbledon without taking to the huge queues.
Henman Hill is by far the most famous place to enjoy the beauty of tennis in the heat. Its formal name is Aorangi Terrace, named after Aorangi Park, which was the site of the New Zealand Rugby Club grounds until 1981. People started flocking there in 1981, and it got the nickname “Henman Hill” after British tennis player Tim Henman, who made several unsuccessful attempts to win the title. However, some people are now calling it (Andy) Murray Hill to make up for it. It’s situated just on the outskirts of Wimbledon park, and it costs £25 to get in, but you’ll be sitting alongside many people who love the sport as much as you do.
FLAT IRON SQUARE
If paying £25 doesn’t suit you and you want to be nearer to the city, then you can head to Flat Iron Square. Situated by the central area of Southwark, this bankside development screens all the games in the garden courtyard throughout the tournament. Outdoor and indoor screens are dotted throughout, and there’s also a plethora of eateries in the area. In fact, it sits right on the world-famous Borough Market, so there’s no excuse should you want to grab some food.
THE IVY CAFE, WIMBLEDON VILLAGE
If you want something a bit more exclusive and upmarket, try the Ivy Café in Wimbledon Village. This is where you bring your tennis v-neck sweater and wallet. A very chic, exclusive crowd hangs out in this locale. During the championship week, they offer up two cocktails in commemoration of the tournament and (of course) include on the menu the famous British summer treat “strawberries-and-cream”. During the week they also adorn the venue with elaborate colourful flowers.
WIMBLEDON LAWN TENNIS MUSEUM
If you want to learn more about the game and how it is celebrated, then make sure you head to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum—the largest tennis museum in the world. Opened in 1977, the museum’s sole purpose is to celebrate the sports tournament. It has artefacts dating back to 1555. If you want to survey the museum in your native language, you can get audio guides in different languages, which include English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, Croatian and Brazilian. Make sure you visit the cinema and John McEnroe’s ghost tour!