When a friend asked if visiting Wimbledon was a part of the itinerary in our England leg of the journey, a light glowed in my mind immediately. I don’t recall sharing my love for Tennis with anyone and perhaps my friend had no specific intent in mind, while asking the question.. A grand slam ground and a game I love, where my two favorites John McEnroe and Steffi Graf would have played many a match. The very thought of being at Wimbledon was exhilarating.. All roads lead to Wimbledon that afternoon!!!
Broad, winding roads from the Wimbledon station to the All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) (AELTC) where the Wimbledon grand slam is played, a weather that was so pleasant that it made the half an hour walk from the station, a breeze.. As we neared the club there was no trace of people around and I was apprehensive of whether it was open at all.. This sight that I saw as we were walking towards the AELTC got the apprehension out and surge of delight in!!
I was like this little girl completely enamoured by the very thought of going to a place that she had heard of, seen on TV, watched her favorites playing there and somewhere deep inside may have wanted to go there but wasn’t aware of it.. And when it suddenly happens, the joy knows no bounds!!
“Will the club be open and I would get the opportunity to take a tour inside?” The breath that I was holding came out with a whoosh, when I saw the innumerable cars parked inside.. “Ah, so the tour is possible.” It was time to see the place which was the hope and dream of many a budding tennis player, a winner of the other three other grand slam tournaments waiting to win the Wimbledon grand slam, which then would set them a world apart.. a player waiting to win yet another grand slam title at the Wimbledon.. A place where many hopes and dreams came true and one where many hopes and dreams came crashing down too.. The ground that has seen tears of joy and moments of sadness.. Arms stretched out in delight and racquets thrown down in frustration and anger.. Courts where ‘It’s all in the game and yet not’.. Years of hard work, training, passion out there to blaze or dampened out.. A ground where history is made ..
Was it really there or was it just me having an illusion of sensing an immense energy there? Whichever it was, it was a wonderful feeling to have and one that gave a burst of a charge and a wide grin that stretched from ear to ear!! What a crackling energy it was!! I can feel it even now, as I blog..
The moment I took that first step into the centre court area, I could not but gasp.. The grass court was such a beauty to see!! There was nothing else on the court but everything else was also there – in my eyes 🙂
The net that is across the court separating the two sides of the court.. The chair umpire in his tall chair in rapt attention.. The player’s benches on either side, with the players sitting there and having a sip of water or an energy drink.. The ball boys and ball girls ready to retrieve a ball from a shot played or to supply a ball to a player.. The spectator stands completely occupied with calls of cheers and booing.. The press dugouts filled with cameramen, zooming in on the player’s faces.. The winner of the men’s and women’s finals receiving the cup and the salver respectively, from the Queen, lifting it up for the world to see and going on to make their speeches…
Mind is certainly a powerful instrument making us imagine as though our desire has come alive and is being realised. Just as my mind finished helping my eyes see what I may not get to see in reality, the voice of the tour guide boomed near my ears and I was snapped out of my imagination.. SHe was sharing information on – how there is work all the year around to ensure that the place is maintained.. the actual frenzy that happens only for two weeks in the year, during the tournament.. the process of choosing the ball boys and ball girls and the intensive training they go thru from the time they are chosen till the first match starts.. the method that they follow on how one gets the ticket to watch a match during the tournament.. the prize money.. the wheelchair tennis that was introduced a few years back and my imagination went again on a small trip, of how players in wheelchairs would play the game, especially how skillfully they need to maneuver, if they were playing doubles… as the tour guide finished the tour and we were about to leave the center court stands, I could hear the chair umpire’s voice calling out “Game, set and match..”
The tour done, while waiting at the cafe at AELTC I am certain I was daydreaming.. What was the dream? John McEnroe and Steffi Graf, all attired in their Wimbledon whites walking towards the cafe towards the area I am standing.. Spotting them, I walk towards them and introduce myself and this what I tell them, “I am one of your ardent fans. I loved watching both of you play your matches. Ms. Graf, you for your passion for the game, the way you play and carry yourself. Mr. McEnroe, you for your love for the game, your on-court display of anger and the sheer energy you exude.. Can I give you a hug before you leave?”
To dream is a privilege.. this dream too shall also have its day.. ‘When’ is the 4.70 million pound question :-).. The day this happens, it will be Game, set and match for me..