After I found out I would be participating in Fisher’s Global Projects Non-Profit Program in the United Kingdom, I was ecstatic with the opportunity to consult a nonprofit, but also to explore all that England had to offer. I have been a tennis fanatic all my life, and automatically the first item on my trip bucket list became to visit the All England Tennis and Croquet Club. This is where the famous Grand Slam tournament Wimbledon is played.
The goal to visit Wimbledon fell to the back of my mind until one day when I noticed that the underground tube stop for the tennis club was only a few short stops away from where we lived. After I noticed that, I knew it wouldn’t be just an item on my bucket list, but I had no reason not to go. As we entered our second and last week of our trip, I asked my group if anyone was interested in going. I am a planner, and I wanted to have the train times, tickets, and other logistics figured out. Through discussion, I found myself alone in wanted to visit the tennis club. We had a free day where we could explore the city as we wished. Many took this day to visit places pertaining to their passions such as visiting a contemporary art museum, and I set out for live my childhood dream.
The tennis club was a short walk from the Wimbledon train stop. I was smiling all throughout the walk like a kid on Christmas morning, but I still vividly remember when I turned the corner and smelled the iconic Wimbledon grass. It sounds silly, but that grass is a famous symbol of the tournament. I ran up to the entrance and walked in. I went to where the tour of the grounds starts and to my surprise, I was the only one in that tour group! It was super cool having a personal tour of Wimbledon.
Some of the highlights of the tour were being able to sit in the press room where the players sit after matches, seeing where the various media platforms sit to broadcast the tournament, and visiting Centre Court. It was surreal seeing those courts. I thought to myself “That’s the court where Isner played the record match in 2010!” or “That’s where Rafa climbed up to hug his family after his first Wimbledon win in 2008!”. Something I learned which I did not know before was that Wimbledon recently started a wheelchair tournament which is incredible!
After the tour, I was free to visit the museum individually. The museum had the history of tennis, croquet, and the tournament. Wimbledon is unique because it is not hosted by any association or country, but rather a private tennis club. The facilities are used all year long by members. Another neat fact is to become a member, it isn’t a matter of money, but a love of the sport. All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club’s application process is based on the contribution to the sport. Many members volunteer at after school tennis programs or are coaches. The highlight of the museum was seeing the trophies. I stood in front of the cases in awe for a long time. It was cool to see the bite marks from when some players bite the trophy after winning.
The grounds were already going through preparation for the tournament in July. My tour guide told me about the extensive ballot process to get tickets to the tournament. While it is a difficult process I know I will be back again for to watch tennis and eat strawberries and cream!