In November last year I entered the ballot for Wimbledon tickets for the second year and to be honest, forgot all about it, until February when a letter arrived to say I had been allocated two tickets for Centre Court on the 10th July. A quick calculation, the realisation hit that they were tickets on Men’s Final Day!
Having never been before, I was excited beyond belief, parted with English pounds and eagerly awaited the tickets and to find out where we would be sitting.
These arrived in May and checking where we were resulted in great woops of delight.
I have always wanted to go and with a July birthday, felt that it would be a great treat, and a treat it was seated by the baseline , seven rows from the front. As a Scot, I also wanted to see Andy Murray win his second Wimbledon, and as the previous days had progressed it seemed that all was on course for that to happen. But Milos has a huge serve and had beaten Roger Federer to secure his final place, so it wasn’t a certainty.
We booked parking at car park 10, a cost of £25 for all day. On arrival we parked up and the heavens opened. The rain lessened and we made our way to AELTC. Walking through, with polite stewards awaiting, we passed through the bag check and we had a wander.
A priority was to find something to eat, so sandwiches, crisps and strawberries and cream were chosen. A Pimms and a Stella were our drinks of choice.
A quick photo in front of centre court and we watched the wheelchair women’s doubles warm up.
Ok, my heart pounding, we made our way to gangway 111 and found our seats. It struck me how much smaller it was, seems so much bigger on TV. Light rain began to fall and we sheltered under an umbrella, whilst a brass band blasted out some tunes.
The rain stopped, we saw Boris Becker, Pat Cash, McEnroe, Tim Henman and Leyton Hewitt. Sue Barker came out and interviews began. That’s when my phone started with – where are you, what are you wearing? Then photos sent from screen shots. I had the privilege to sit next to Ruth and her son Richard, both equally excited as we were to be there, their joy unconfined.
Then Andy Murray and Milos Raonic came out and so did the sun. The power, even in the warm up, is a sight and sound to behold and the seats began to fill, as did the Royal Box. Suddenly it felt an intimate venue and that the Centre Court was a warm hug around us.
The power, the deft strokes across the net, the precision at speed, my heart pounding, feeling nervous for Andy, and his loved ones, coupled with messages, photos and shared conversations with those around us just heightened the whole experience. At one point Milos served the second fastest serve at Wimbledon 147 mph, which Andy returned! One set up and a trip to the loo was needed.
I returned to my seat and a few unforced errors, more flashing strokes, backhands, forehands, volleys and slices were fast and furious. Second set went to a tie break, and Andy secured that wonderfully. At one point you sensed that Milos, as he trudged back to serve again, was thinking, ‘What do I have to do?’
Third set and there was no let up. He didn’t lose a service game and I dared to dream that I would see him hold the trophy aloft.
Another tie break and part of me wanted Milos to win so that we could have another set, but Andy took the lead in the tie break and just before 5pm he’d won.
Emotions were expressed, the crowd erupted, I shed a few tears as if my own son had won. The relief felt was palpable, and the well oiled machine began preparations for the presentation of the trophies.
Post match interviews were held, Milos magnanimous in defeat, and Andy Murray his irascible self, but underneath there is a sensitivity that is rarely seen. His voice pointedly broke when he said he loved his family!
He deserved to win and I was so proud to have been there, with Kevin, and felt that so many people that I knew were with us from the messages sent during the match.
But we weren’t finished yet, another Brit, Heather Watson was in the mixed doubles final with Henri Kontinen, and we stayed to cheer them on!
Gosh, doubles are played at a much faster pace, reactions quicker and as the sun faded we were treated to a delightful show. In what seemed a short amount of time, we had another Wimbledon Champion! This time the presentation to be made in the Royal Box.
After an awesome day we walked back to our car, tired, emotional but so glad that we had been there. There are so many superlatives that I could use, but exceptional, immense and inspiring are a few.
I apologise for it being a bit of a phlog, and I will be buying myself a camera to take better photos to share!