Soaking in the Wimbledon fever

Jul 08, 2013, 02:08 IST | Ranjona Banerji

As the Championships draw to a close, you can at last start to distinguish between the heads of fans and enthusiasts and the grounds themselves.

The crowds were all over Aorangi Terrace, still known colloquially as Henman Hill, full of excitement and Pimms for the women’s singles final and even more for the men’s final of course.

Spectators cool their feet as they watch a giant TV showing the men’s final yesterday. PIC/Getty Images

In fact, the very rule-conscious All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club seem to have bent a few for the Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic match: people are allowed to sit on the walkways, quite forbidden at other times.

During the women’s singles final, clever people found a shaded path with a wall that had a great view of the giant screen. In front is a water-lily filled design feature — all perfect for a hot day, despite the prickly bush that acted as a back rest.

But the walkway in front of the wall — well, some very watchful security staff waited till people had settled down before asking them to get up. People wandered up and down while the match was on, making one wonder what exactly they were doing at Wimbledon. Maybe tennis is not their sport?

The rest of the grounds are eerily empty though. The outer courts are silent with a few grounds staff sitting around. The eating and drinking kiosks have more customers than the courts, only because there’s more food and drink than tennis on offer!

But there are some advantages. Apart from Centre Court and Court No 1, people with ground passes can now enter the other show courts and watch the juniors in action. Quite a lot of people do: later they can boast how they identified the next new star when he or she was a kid.

The strong sun of the 2013 summer makes the Wimbledon shop a happy refuge, as people overspend for towels, T-shirts and loads of other carefully crafted and craftily priced trinkets and memorabilia.

One of the best aspects of the club is the effort put in by the staff and volunteers to keep everything running smoothly. Most are helpful, friendly and full of smiles and sadly, except for the ushers into the courts, rarely get to see any tennis at all.

The strawberries and cream, one has to say, remains a favourite and there are times when you see people carrying two or three at a time. Is that greed, courage, in keeping with tradition or an appreciation of the finer things in life?

But maybe that’s just Wimbledon. There’s great tennis everywhere. But some places, with their graciousness and sense of history, are that little bit finer! 

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