Watching the Wimbledon Championships live is an experience like no other in sport.
Wimbledon is the oldest of the tennis majors and takes place at the prestigious All England Club every summer – usually for a two week period from late June to early July.
There are multiple matches going on at the same time, so fans who arrive early can enjoy tennis from 11 a.m. onwards.
However, the traditions at the tournament are what really makes it – from white outfits to Pimms to strawberries and cream.
Nowhere is this more apparently than in the VIP area, which adds a whole new element of grandeur to the sporting festivities – free Champagne included.
As Business Insider UK’s Sports Reporter, I attended Wimbledon in the VIP area. Keep scrolling to see what it was like.
Welcome to the Wimbledon Championships, the oldest tennis tournament in the world and one of the most prestigious sports venues in England. As Business Insider UK’s Sports Reporter, I was invited to a VIP day at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, so I decided to detail the experience from beginning to end.
I alighted at Southfields underground train station, which is on the District Line network and is approximately 45 minutes south-west of Business Insider’s bureau in London. As soon as you get off the train, you immediately get caught up in the Wimbledon spirit as the station is decorated with themed advertisements.
Just outside the station there is a black cab taxi service that can shuttle fans to the Wimbledon gates, at a cost of £2.50 ($US3.31) for a single trip. Not bad, to be fair.
But the sun was shining, it was a glorious morning, and it seemed right to join the crowds all the way to the All England Club — a 17 minute walk from the station.
Hard-to-get tickets range in price and are adjusted according to the day you want to attend and which court you want to see. The most expensive ticket is the Centre Court experience on July 15, which includes the men’s final, and is priced at £210 ($US280) per person.
I spent the day in coffee sponsor Lavazza’s VIP marquee. The experience included entrance to the grounds, free drinks, lunch with former world number one men’s tennis player Andre Agassi, and access to Centre Court to watch 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal in action.
After picking up my ticket at Gate 9 and going through a security check, I entered the Wimbledon VIP Village.
The Wimbledon VIP village is split up into multiple sections and features many of the tournament’s key sponsors, including Lavazza, an espresso giant that has been an official supplier since 2011.
Andre Agassi was conducting a TV interview when I entered the Lavazza VIP booth.
Drinks were on the house and my attention was piqued as soon as I was informed there was a coffee cocktail menu.
I went for a non-alcoholic iced mocha, with cream on top. It started off sweet and creamy, then took on those dark coffee tones halfway through the glass. Delicious!
There was also free Champagne on offer.
I sat with Giuseppe Lavazza, vice president of Lavazza. Giuseppe Lavazza is passionate about coffee and tennis and we talked about his life in Turin, as well as the topic of maternity leave in tennis. One of his favourite athletes is Rafa Nadal, who was playing on Centre Court later that day.
When lunch was served, starters included smoked salmon and beetroot…
… but there were also vegetarian options, like this gazpacho which had white beans and celery. There were also edible flowers.
There was also a buffet-style main, with ham hock and other meat on the menu, but I kept it vegetarian and ordered a feta and beetroot pie, tomato salad, and a pearl barley salad. The Champagne was topped up regularly.
I also got the chance to chat to Agassi along with other journalists (stay tuned for the interview).
It wouldn’t be Wimbledon without strawberries and cream, but by the time I had met and spoken to Agassi, they were all gone! Luckily, they can be bought throughout the grounds.
Next it was time to pick up the tickets for Centre Court. Human traffic was getting increasingly bigger on Henman Hill/Murray Mound (which really isn’t as big as it’s made to look on TV), as everybody got ready for Rafa Nadal’s second round match against Dudi Sela.
This was our view on Centre Court. You can see the “Royal Box” opposite. Nadal was a clear crowd favourite and, even from these seats, it was easy to see how physically impressive Nadal is.
Just look at those thighs!
Nadal coasted to a straight sets victory (6-3, 6-3, 6-2) over Sela and went on to dominate Mikhail Kukushkin in the Round of 64 (6-4, 6-3, 6-4) and Alex de Minaur in the Round of 32 (6-1, 6-2, 6-4) later in the week.
He also beat Jiří Veselý in straight sets (6-3, 6-3, 6-4) in the Round of 16 on Monday, edged Juan del Potro in the quarterfinal on Wednesday, and now faces Novak Djokovic in the semifinal today.
Whether you’re in a marquee or watching an outside court, Wimbledon is always a great experience — but bottomless Champagne is certainly a plus. Cheers!
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