What does The All England Club look like in Autumn? It’s a question you probably don’t ask yourself but HST Frankie went to find out.
What does The All England Club look like in Autumn? It’s a question I definitely hadn’t really thought about. Wimbledon, to me, is summer. It’s vibrant grass, purple and green flowers and foliage, whites worn over bare legs (because it’s warm enough to be without tights/ trousers), British strawberries, long and hopefully sunny days, action, euphoria, players, crowds.
The day I booked for the Wimbledon tour turned out to be laden with fog. It was 10.30 on a Monday morning and the grounds were near desolate. Apart from myself, my friend Sylvie, the tour guide and the other members on the tour (including three Aussies. Woo, go the Happy Slam!), there was nobody about outside. The occasional man would busily walk over the courts while tending to the grass but that just added to the lonesome scene. The only life left of the tournament are those dedicated ground staff helping maintain the courts’ magic until next year.
The sky was white, the air crisp. Novak and Serena were standing tall among the translucent blankness as though transported to heaven to be admired, the tournament having died until next year. It was the same for Centre Court and Court No.1, the Show Courts and Henman Hill. The hill looked eerie with nobody on it (and it was forbidden to step on the grass), without 1000s of British fans with smiles on their faces, Pimm’s in their hands, cheering on Andy Murray with infectious enthusiasm.
FUN FACT: Centre Court and Court No.1 currently have heat lamps across the grass. The club’s in the process of putting barb wire up around the courts because foxes keep coming and sunbathing underneath them.
The seats in the stands were either covered up or decorated on the back with cobwebs. The press room was silent- no screens on, no sign of existence- but the trees and ivy were glowing with autumnal reds, oranges and yellows. Aahhh, such natural beauty, highlighting the tournament’s charm. So much work and care goes into making Wimbledon’s two weeks what it is but The All England Club will always be special, whatever time of the year.
The tour began with a wonder along to Court No.1 where we walked around the stands.
We came out by the hill and continued to court 18, the ghosts of Isner and Mahut from 2010 still battling away (For those unaware, there’s a plaque on the outside stating the longest match). We were directed to the ‘behind the scenes’ areas, such as the reception of the club where the players sign in.
FUN FACT: There are no specific times when a player has to arrive before a match and, while most tend to sign in several hours before, Novak caused panic by entering only two (or maybe it was 10) minutes before a final.
We sat in the press conference room and listened to the tour guide explain our (lack of) chances of becoming a member of the club. Sigh, not only does it cost thousands and thousands of pounds but the process is ridiculously difficult. One may be lucky enough to supply the references needed but then they are put on a waiting list due to membership restricted to 500 members.
“It’s a good year if a member dies,” the tour guide jokingly remarked. Cruel but it does put it into perspective.
We then passed through the press room where all the live reporting is done before heading into the stands of Centre Court.
PERSONAL THOUGHT: I have been to Wimbledon before but never to Centre Court. Having only previously seen it from the outside and obviously on television, I was surprised by how small it actually looks when there. Even in the furthest seats away you’d get a fantastic view and that’s something I didn’t imagine.
There is also the Wimbledon museum where you will find the origins of the sport, clothing, interactive things, a 5-10 minute 3D film (overdramatic but quite effective) watched in strawberry print 3D glasses, a room full of vintage posters and- my personal favourite-a LIBRARY! But access is only allowed via special booking.
This is not a sponsored post but if you’re interested in tours or the museum, details can be found here.