If you’ve ever wanted to visit Wimbledon, let IES Abroad London's Assistant Director Elaine Staunton be your guide! Read below as she describes the recent IES Abroad field trip to one of the biggest tennis matches in the world.
There is something magical about Wimbledon—as 27 IES London students discovered on Friday, June 29, getting up at 4:45 a.m. to catch the IES Abroad coach from outside Nido Spitalfields to southwest London. It was well worth it!
Queuing is a tradition that keeps the tournament open to as many people as possible—you can buy ground tickets for just £20 that allow unrestricted access to the 16 outer courts that host some of the world’s greatest tennis players. The three main show courts (Centre Court, Court 1 and Court 2) also have tickets available for those who can get up early enough, or even camp overnight.
"The Queue" is stewarded and strictly controlled. Lining up in a long snake in a playing field across the road from the main complex, every person is given a "queue ticket" that states your number in the queue and the rules: one queue ticket per person, no loud music or rowdy behavior, tents must be packed away by 7 a.m., and queue-jumping will not be tolerated! There is also plenty of entertainment in the queue and freebies from the tournament sponsors. (IES Abroad students played table-tennis outside the Evian stand, for example!)
Our coach dropped us off at 5:30 a.m. and we were lucky enough to be only 1,700 or so back, giving us the opportunity to buy show court tickets for Court 2.
Claire Kibblewhite, IES Abroad London’s resident tennis expert/enthusiast, carefully checked through the order or play listed in the morning newspaper.
"No," Claire said confidently, "No need to spend the extra money. Today the best court will be Court 3–ladies singles and men’s singles, followed by the best ladies doubles team in the world. There is restricted seating–I suggest we focus on getting there as early as possible and staying there all day."
Which is exactly what we did. We saw up and coming U.S. star, Sloane Stevens knocked out by Sabine Lisicki (who went on to defeat Maria Sharapova on Monday), and an incredibly exciting upset that went to five sets when seeded Spanish player Fenando Vardasco lost to Xavier Malisse from Belgium.
Court 3 was quickly oversubscribed and became one-in-one-out (Claire was right). In between games, IES Abroad students left to explore the rest of the outer courts for themselves. Several enjoyed watching the action on Centre Court via the big screen on ‘Henman Hill’ and eating the traditional (and rather overpriced but delicious) strawberries and cream.
Some students were tennis fans, while others had come along not knowing much about the sport, to see what it was all about. No one regretted the early start and all agreed that the time invested in getting into the BEST tennis tournament in the world (perhaps slight bias on the part of the writer here) made the experience all the sweeter.
As Cherie Johnson (Indiana University) told us later: "Thank you so much for organizing the trip to Wimbledon. It was something I never would have done on my own and will be one of my best memories of London!"