My Wimbledon Final Experience

My Wimbledon Final Experience.

wimbledon centre court

Wimbledon centre court view
Image by Rian (Ree) Saunders
Photo not from final

 

The Men’s Singles Final at Wimbledon. The year wasn’t so far ago, in 2017.

The match was Federer vs Cilic.

It must of been a dream I thought, rubbing my eyes as I looked out on Centre Court.

This was the biggest match in men’s tennis and one which I had watched religiously on television for 20 years.

While I always imagined what it would be like to attend Wimbledon, it never even crossed my mind I would make it to a final.

So, you can excuse the fact I was lost in the moment for much of the experience but I will try and capture what it was like being there, as I remember it on the day.

 

Planning Paid Dividends

Having done my research, I decided to take the District Line from central London and stop at Southfields.  I still had a nagging doubt in my mind I should stop at Wimbledon Station, I mean that makes sense, right?

southfield tube station in london on the way to my wimbledon final experience

The Southfield tube station
Image by Daniel

 

If I was in any doubt about whether I was at the correct stop that soon went away.  I could see Wimbledon banners and colours everywhere and relaxed a little.

I still had the walk to the grounds to complete but it was very easy.  Having found the entrance, I didn’t have to wait long in line before I was inside the Wimbledon grounds for the first time.

I decided to try and get to the grounds as early as possible because many people would be attending and I didn’t want to be caught up in a crowd.

The thought of arriving in Centre Court late was the stuff of nightmares for me, I dislike needless disruption in sport.

Plus, I wanted the full Wimbledon experience and while there was little happening in terms of actual tennis, there was a real buzz of excitement.

 

Appreciating the Setting

Some people were happy to stroll around, enjoying a drink and some of the fabled strawberries and cream.

Strawberry and Cream
Image by Saltank

 

Others seemed to be in a rush and did not want to stop for anything.  It was as if they were worried their seat was going to be taken if they were not inside Centre Court early enough.

One thing which struck me about Wimbledon was how neat and tidy everything was inside the grounds.

There were Lovely flowers and not a piece of litter in sight.  Walking around the grounds was a real pleasure.  If I had the opportunity next year, I would love to come and see some of the earlier rounds on the outside courts.

 

Anxiousness Paves Way for Joy

As the time approached 13:30, I couldn’t wait any more and decided it was time to head to Centre Court and take my seat.

There was no way the volume of people inside the grounds was ever going to fit inside Centre Court.  I become anxious, for no reason at all, that I wouldn’t get in.

I had my ticket so I am not sure why I felt this way.  Perhaps because it all seemed so unreal.  It was the Men’s Singles Final Wimbledon final after all.

If you were experiencing Wimbledon for the first time how would you feel?

Fear of seeing nothing

I knew beforehand my seat was going to be at the back of the arena, I checked before I arrived.  I braced myself that I might be disappointed with the view.  Can you imagine having all that adrenaline pumping only to find your seat had a restricted view?  It would be devastating.

Crowd waiting for the players
Image by Chris Eason

 

Having found my seat, with the aid of the very helpful ushers, I turned and could see Centre Court in all its glory below.  That was the moment it hit me and I couldn’t prevent a smile from breaking out over my face.

I looked to my left and could see the Royal Box.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were in attendance.  While I struggled to figure out who the others were, that was all I needed to know.  Everyone was looking over there.

My smile remained there for some time and just as I was becoming accustomed to my surroundings, some applause broke out to my left.

The applause changed to cheering.

“Look down there!” exclaimed my wife.

The Elements Combine to Produce Something Special

Marin Cilic and Roger Federer walked onto court.  What a moment.

Watching the Wimbledon Men’s Singles final on television is one thing, being there is out of this world.

The hushed chatter as the players began to warm up was almost surreal.  I have never seen a group of sports fans debate the merits of two players so politely yet with such excitement.

The famous wave
Image by Chris Eason

 

While it may not be the dream final, Federer vs Andy Murray would have been my first choice, it was still the men’s singles final at Wimbledon.  A fantastic occasion.

I felt nervous and I wasn’t even playing.  The umpire called and the place went into silence.  Now I felt worried about making a noise but at the advice of my wife, I turned my phone off when we were on the tube.

I admit my eyes were on Federer for most of the match and the ease and accuracy of his backhand was something to behold.  He appeared in complete control of everything on the court, a true master at work.

The Speedy ball boys and girls

Something else which caught my attention were the ball boys and girls.   The way they run around the court, at such speed to gather the balls was incredible.  Again, this is something I have not picked up on television.

Then there was the sound of the ball meeting the racket and the sheer speed at which it was travelling.

I have never been to Wimbledon before and you begin to understand just what the players can do.  It’s easy to sit at home and comment on what is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ shot.  Being there and seeing the shots for yourself is something else.

 

The Flow of the Match Dictates Support

As the match developed it was clear to me that almost everyone inside Centre Court was on Federer’s side.  They wanted to see him win a record eighth title but then something unexpected happened.

The mood changed when Cilic was obviously struggling and people started to back the Croat in the second and third set.

This was a strange phenomenon for me.  At almost every other sporting event I have attended, people knew who they were going to back beforehand and never changed their mind.

This was different and the way the crowd swayed from Federer, to Cilic and back to Federer surprised me.

The funny thing is, which I never realised until I thought back on it, is that I did the same thing.

I was sat there wanting to see a Federer masterclass but at the same time I wanted the match to go to five sets.

It didn’t but that did not my Wimbledon final experience.

Federer kissing the cup
Image by andrea-enrico via flickr

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