Loran Smith: Wimbledon
Competition at Wimbledon is now underway with the finals to conclude the weekend of July 9-10. The All-England Club which runs this championship, dating back to July 1868, no longer has to worry about inclement weather so all events will take place in a timely and orderly manner.
A retractable roof over Centre Court allows for the show to go on—on schedule—something that came about in 2009. Matches are no longer interrupted by rain showers and conclude before darkness settles in. If you are a tennis aficionado and gain access to Wimbledon tickets, it is quite compelling to make your way to Waterloo station and take a train out to Wimbledon, a city of about 60,000 that dates back to the Iron Age. If you are a Bed & Breakfast advocate, however, don’t expect any bargains when it comes to lodging within walking distance. Residents are eager to rent rooms, but the rates are steeper than Kilimanjaro.
The first couple of times at Wimbledon, I found a very accommodating young widow lady whose lodging rates were very reasonable. Her house was filled with boarders who were working media stiffs.
Real estate in Wimbledon is very pricey. A one-bedroom flat commands an investment of a half-million dollars. A four- or five-bedroom house would likely carry a price tag of $2.5 million dollars with no space to prop your feet.
The Wimbledon scene is, without question, extraordinary. It has an enormous footprint comprising 18 grass courts, eight American clay courts, two acrylic courts and five indoor courts.
There is an aurora about Wimbledon that leads you to pinch yourself from the awe that comes with a visit to the grounds. You see everyday folk going about their business which includes housewives riding their bikes home from the grocery store—with their baskets filled with groceries and foodstuffs.
There are kids at play, a newspaper stands offering a choice of daily papers including the London Times, the Guardian, and the Observer. Any long-time aficionado of getting the news via print enjoys getting up in London any time of the year.
Robust sales seem to take place, especially with the European sports scene at this juncture on the calendar. The French Open has just been staged, the Henley Regatta is underway, the Tour de France embarks from Copenhagen on July 1 st, and the running of the bulls at Pamplona is set for July
6 th .
The sports pages in Europe in summer are filled with news and features that remind one of how it was with college football and the major papers of yesteryear.
One can never get enough of Wimbledon which exudes class at every turn. Its primary color is green with a touch of purple. The competitors are advised to honor the color white when choosing their outfits for Wimbledon. A referee may politely ask a competitor to change their clothing if it doesn’t meet Wimbledon standards.
The tradition of players bowing or curtseying in front of the Royal Box went away in 2003, but an exception comes about if Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II or the Prince of Wales is in attendance.
Of course, it would be difficult to imagine a spectator enjoying a stop at Wimbledon during the tournament’s fortnight and not partaking of the tournament’s signature culinary offering of strawberries and cream. That would be like not sipping a mint julip at the Kentucky Derby or not tasting a
pimento cheese sandwich at the Masters.
The estimate for servings of strawberries and cream during the tournament surpasses 190,000. Wimbledon certainly makes the day of farmers in County Kent.
Johnny Perkins, head of public relations for the All-England Club, told a television network that “(strawberries and cream) were part of afternoon tea, which had become a fashionable ritual, and that took root at Wimbledon.”
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