In less than a week’s time, all eyes will be trained on a small corner of south west London as the world’s top tennis stars take to the courts to compete at Wimbledon. Pimm’s and prosecco, strawberries and cream, Cliff Richard and rain delays – the Championships are an institution, and so fabulously English that they should have a voiceover by Stephen Fry.
In anticipation of the feast of tennis to come, we’ve put together some ace (ha ha) advice on how to make the most of your Wimbledon experience.
Tickets & ‘The Queue’
If you’ve missed the boat on the public ballot, which closed on December 31st, you’re going to have to do it the hard and slightly more expensive way.
Ticketmaster releases a few hundred Centre Court and Court 3 tickets at 9am the day before play. Alternatively, you can splash some cash and buy a debenture (season) ticket that’s going begging for the day here.
Or you can face the infamous Queue. This officially opens for business at 8am on Sunday 28th June – but if you really want a ticket, you’d better pack your tent and sleeping bag and set up base camp on Wimbledon Park the night before you want to attend.
If you fancy trying your luck after work, the late entry queue for purchasing returned tickets from the less hardy attendees opens at 5pm daily.
Travel & Transport
The Championships are held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (don’t worry, jeans and T-shirts are fair game these days).
If you’re taking the tube, the closest stop is Southfields, although Wimbledon station isn’t too far either. Shuttle buses run from both stations to the courts every 30 minutes, but you may as well tackle the 15-20 minute walk if you’re up for it.
Parking in Wimbledon during The Championships is – yep, you guessed it – pretty darn tricky. What’s more, the park and ride is a bus journey away and official on-site parking is limited.
It’s a good job Wimbledon homeowners are a savvy bunch! These days, thanks to the miracle of technology and the peer-to-peer economy, you can book a spot on someone else’s driveway in advance. JustPark has a whole host of nearby driveways to choose from, loads of which are within cheering distance or just a tennis ball’s throw from the courts. (Pssst! Got a driveway you don’t use? Whether you live in Wimbledon or not, you cash in on it by renting it out).
Food & Drink
Refreshments inside the grounds are pretty pricey as you’d imagine, so packing some cucumber sandwiches and a bottle of iced tea is a sensible move.
Picnic on Murray Mount (formerly Henman Hill) for maximum Wimbledon XP. Strawberries and cream portions, compulsory of course, cost £2.50. A punnet worth every penny.
Booze is limited to a bottle of wine or 2 x 500ml cans of alcoholic beverage per person, and if you don’t fancy bringing a tinned Pimm’s, a glass of the signature nectar will set you back around £6 inside.
If you’ve forgotten the packed lunch and aren’t keen for queueing, why not grab some grub at a local restaurant? Good eateries are a-plenty, but here are a couple of our favourites:
Franco Manca sourdough pizzas are some of the best in London, if not the country. Situated next to Southfields station, it’s a short walk from the courts – but worth every minute. Made with the most sumptuous ingredients and all for under £7, it’s a no-brainer.
The Alexandra is a traditional local boozer which does fab food too. You can pick up a sarnie and side of fries for £6, or go all-out on burgers and pub classics for around £12 each. There’s also a Gourmet Burger Kitchen and a Pizza Express nearby if you want to play it safe.
Pubs & Plasma Screens
For a cheeky midday beverage that won’t break the bank, there are some awesome pubs in Wimbledon which are worth checking out, as well as being ideal spots for the TV spectator to soak up the atmosphere.
The Rose and Crown really goes to town during The Championships. With a special Wimbledon marquee set up – complete with outdoor bar, BBQ and regular live music – it’s the perfect place to catch all the action and join in with the carnival-like vibes.
The Prince of Wales, next to Wimbledon station, shows all the tennis whilst serving Pimm’s in proper jug-sized measures. And for a reasonable price.
If it’s craft beer and real ale you’re after, you can’t go wrong with The Hand and Racquet, which boasts a great ambience throughout the day and a 9am pre-tennis breakfast for the duration of the tournament. Enjoy!