How To Wim at Wimbledon: The Ballot

When it comes to the ballot, “wimming at Wimbledon” is not quite so straight-forward. Whilst you can almost guarantee your success in the queue by simply getting up early, entering the ballot doesn’t necessarily yield tickets for Wimbledon. However, it’s the first and most crucial step; as they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

I recognise that my queue post wasn’t very helpful given Wimbledon is an early-July distant memory. However, this ballot post should hopefully be a lot more useful as the tournament organisers will now be preparing for Wimbledon 2018 which means we, the punter, can also start preparing for Wimbledon 2018! No jokes, the link says it all.

Let me talk you through my ballot success for the 2017 Championships.

(1) At some point in September, I applied to the ballot directly, following the bureaucratic process that Wimbledon seems to hold dear. Scroll down to Wimbledon on my tickets guide to learn more about what is involved.

(2) Not fancying my chances, in November I did my classic shout-out to Facebook in hope I could persuade a few more people to apply to the ballot, so they could take me with them when they won.

(3) Distracted by the Australian Open, I forgot all about the ballot until 13 March when I came home after a boring day at work and found a letter addressed to me on the floor. I remember picking it up, casually opening it, thinking it was some fancy looking bill. And then I saw the Wimbledon branding. Gasp. Frantic opening. Ahhhh, I got tickets!!!! Cue texting my sister, the second biggest fan of Wimbledon that I know and waiting very impatiently for a response. Clearly Wimbledon knew it was my year of grand slams!

The notification letter that you receive from the tournament provides instructions on how to pay for the tickets online if you want them and so that night, I logged on and paid the balance. I think I was a bit scared that if I didn’t pay for the tickets there and then, somehow they’d be taken away from me. So happy!

(4) Having paid for my tickets, the only thing left to do was wait for them to arrive. In a similar context to when I received my original letter, I came home from work on 17 May to a fancy looking envelope and then got very excited when I realised what was inside. Wimbledon tickets!!

(5) Fast forward several months to the day itself. Anna and I went for brunch in Wimbledon village in the morning and then strolled into Wimbledon at around 12pm. Such a contrast to the previous Friday when I’d queued! Fortunately, I really enjoy the Wimbledon queue experience so never grudge it, but it was so nice to get into the grounds that Monday and not feel exhausted by the morning’s efforts. And the weather was again on form! Check out the blue skies and sweaty Catmac below as proof. Our line-up on centre court was also not too shabby: Venus Williams, Andy Murray and Roger Federer. You know, just some legends of the sport.

As if I need to say, it was another cracking day at Wimbledon. Venus strolled through her match. Andy stressed us out as he likes to do but fought through to win the match. Roger demonstrated the art of effortless tennis. I couldn’t have asked for more. For context, this was the same day that Nadal and Muller had their epic showdown on Court number 1. Looking back, I wish we’d stayed to watch the match on Henman Hill/Murray Mound. Instead, we left the grounds and kept stopping at pubs on our route back to the station, watching snippets on their tiny screens. Facepalm. Moral of the story: never leave the grounds when there is tennis still in play!

When Anna and I were at brunch, we got talking to some other lucky ticket holders at the table next to us. They told us that they had won ballot tickets for the mens final in the 2013 championships, i.e. they saw Andy Murray win Wimbledon for the first time, after Britain’s 77-year wait. What an epic event to have witnessed! This conversation, coupled with my own flukey success in my first ever entry to the ballot, has motivated me to apply for the ballot forevermore. And I think you should do the same (and take me, obviously!).

So You Want To Go To Wimbledon?

A few people have asked me for advice on going to Wimbledon so before the greatest grand slam of the year descends upon us, I wanted to write a quick post explaining all there is to know. Sit down, make yourself a cup of tea, and wish that you had one of my amazing Wimbledon cupcakes.


Going to Wimbledon
One of the reasons that Wimbledon is so great is the fact that you can get tickets last-minute, either by queuing on the day, or by purchasing online the day before.

The Queue

  • Show-courts (Reserved seats on Centre Court and courts 1, 2 or 3):
    The majority of the show-court tickets have been allocated through the ballot but a healthy number are kept behind for on-the-day purchasing. If you want a chance of getting these, I suggest you become one of these mad people in tents who camp overnight.
  • Ground-passes (Grounds and unreserved seats on courts 3-19): The majority of people joining the early morning queue will be there to get a ground-pass ticket. These tickets are only sold on the day of play. In past years, I’ve arrived at the grounds between 6.30am and 7am in order to guarantee entry. Follow @ViewFromTheQ on Twitter to get the daily update on what time is advised to arrive. If you rock up at 10am, you’re not getting in. Tickets on the first week of play will be £25.
  • After work: I can’t find anything to confirm this on the Wimbledon website but I think if you go to Wimbledon after 5pm, you can buy a Ground pass for even cheaper than £25. However, I’d only recommend doing this on the first week or the first half of the second week when there are still lots of matches going on.
  • Re-sale tickets. Another reason Wimbledon is so wonderful is because you can buy show-court re-sale tickets which have been handed in by attendees who decide to go home before the action is over. Tickets cost either £5 or £10, and are available from 5pm at the re-sale kiosk.

Online
It is also possible to buy show-court tickets on the day before play on ticketmaster – my friends did this last year and saw some epic matches on Centre Court. I’ve never done it but imagine this might cost a small fortune!

Watching Wimbledon
If you’re in the UK, as ever, Sue Barker and the BBC have you covered so you can bask in the wonders of Wimbledon for the next 2 weeks. If you’re in London, I’d recommend watching some of the matches on one of the big screens dotted around the city for the next best thing to a Henman Hill/Murray Mound Wimbledon atmosphere.

Myself? Queuing on Friday. Centre court tickets on the following Monday. And lots and lots of quality time with the BBC on either end!

One more sleep until Wimbledon!

A Postcard from Paris

Bonjour mes parents! C’est votre plus jeune fille préférée qui vous appelle, finally here to tell you all about her recent grand slam adventure à Paris! If this was a real postcard, it would have a British stamp on it, rather than a French stamp, because as per usual, I’ve been quite delayed in actually getting around to writing this and sending it to you. Terribly sorry. Anyway, I don’t want you getting your grand slams confused so before Wimbledon hits our screens, shall we reminisce about Paris?


My long weekend in Paris was such a delight. London had been hot that general-election Thursday when I departed, but I arrived to even warmer temperatures in Paris. Can you believe I hadn’t been in Europe proper since 2015? Somehow I’d forgotten that last year I was too busy walking 500 miles. The temperatures, combined with this realisation and the view in front of me, made for a very ecstatic Catmac as I walked out of Gare du Nord into the blinding sunshine. Paris architecture is incredible. ‘Shall I move to Paris?’, I wondered to myself as I slowly wandered south to our Air BnB in Le Marais, an excellent choice might I add. Don’t worry parents, as with Australia, I think it’s unlikely that I’m about to change countries any time soon.

Do you remember my old Brussels flatmates Marine and Jo? On my first night in Paris, whilst I was waiting for Viv to arrive, I met up with Marine and as per tradition (well, we’ve done it twice!) we face-timed Jo who is now back in Brussels post-studies. It was so cool to see and laugh with them again! I love that I still have these connections from different stages of my life. My Brussels life is a distant memory to me now, but meeting up with the people I shared the experience with helped me relate to it again. The blog also helps. Rue le Titien pour toujours!

Weirdly, Paris didn’t seem that fussed about Roland-Garros, At least, not to the extent that I saw in Melbourne and have witnessed multiple times in London. There was barely any advertising for it anywhere in the city and even when we arrived at one of the designated Roland-Garros metro stops, we literally had no idea which direction we needed to walk in because there was nothing to instruct us. (Shout-out to the man who took one look at the Scottish flag draped round my neck and concluded that we should follow him.)


Even in central Paris, there seemed to be a lack of activity. We’d been told there was a big screen by the Eiffel Tower so we ventured there for the final. Naturally, this led us to vision our arty Instagram shots-to-be but when we arrived at the screen, we were a bit disappointed.

Sure, the Eiffel Tower is in the vicinity but how am I supposed to see it from within this hidden enclosure?! Alas, our instas were not to be, but to be fair, when we did get inside this rather random and exclusive RG watchpoint, we quickly embraced our new lives.

Asides from the tennis, and the obligatory parkrun (when in Paris), we still had lots of time to enjoy the city. Shout-out to Viv who got up at 7.30am to go to Versailles whilst I went to parkrun so we would then be able to hang out again in the afternoon after our respective activities! This trip was the first time that I felt like I really understood the geography of Paris. Now I understand that the Eiffel Tower is west, Roland-Garros even more west, etc, etc! It was also the first time that I’d walked extensively in the city and fully appreciated its beauty.

Paris, there’s so much I love about you.

It’s a good sign that, even only three weeks on, I keep forgetting that I had possibly the worst cold of my year on this trip to Paris.  Let’s just block out those negative memories! I remember thinking I’d have to rein in my cheering for Andy because my voice wasn’t strong enough to shout, and then, of course, I threw that plan out the window as soon as Andy came on court. “ALLEZ ANDY!” To be fair, it felt like there were only 10 other Andy fans in the whole stadium – he needed my voice! Ice cream was then, of course, essential to aid my recovery. 

Amusingly, my grand slam tour has turned into a bit of a Nadal slam tour. I watched him in the final in Australia, and then again in the semi-final in Paris. Is he going to feature in my Wimbledon experience? This wasn’t the plan. But I can’t complain. Even though Andy lost in his semi-final at Roland-Garros, that match was a huge treat for me and made the grand-slam risk of 2017 seem all worth it. Now I hope you’ve both fine-tuned your voices because Andy needs us for the next 2 weeks. Watch out for me/him/two scots at Wimbledon!

CatMac X

When Roland-Garros Is On ITV4

Somehow February turned into June and Roland-Garros, the second grand slam tournament of the tour, and finale of the clay season, is in full swing. Though it’s been a few months since the last grand slam took place in Australia, various tennis-themed headlines have distracted me from the grand slam drought:

(1) On 22 March, an hour long online queue led to me successfully acquiring tickets for the semi finals of Roland-Garros (was very late to work that day);
(2) A letter arrived through the post from Wimbledon in mid-March to say I’d been successful in the ballot, on my first attempt (March was an exciting month);
(3) My friend Sara took me to the Wimbledon Tour and Museum for my birthday one sunny Saturday afternoon in April (such a joy when Andy Murray is the current champion);
(4) The Great British Tennis Weekend in May saw me discover my local tennis club and start a beginners course (we weren’t taught tennis at school in Inverness, very deprived);
(5) Last week, I booked my flights to the US/Canada for my US Open tennis adventure in September (this birthday keeps on giving!);
(6) And of course there’s always my favourite Google search: Andy Murray. No jokes, my phone has decided, without prompt, to make this a favourite on my Safari homepage. It’s important to find out what the world is saying about my favourite player. Shingles? Oh no. Elbow injury? How unfortunate. 30?

Happy birthday, Andy!


It’s fair to say it’s not been the best season for Andy so far but it’s made me so happy to watch him fight through the opening rounds of Roland-Garros, and even more delighted that this viewing hasn’t been through refreshing an online newsfeed, as I had anticipated, but through live coverage, courtesy of ITV4. Who actually knew? Has this always been the case? Have I been depriving myself of the pinnacle of the clay season year after year? Thank goodness I discovered in time this year! In all seriousness, it’s like Christmas came early. Every day this week, I’ve been in work early, to leave early, to get home as soon as possible and dive my face in front of my laptop screen. I want to watch as much of this tournament as I can.

 


I’d originally considered visiting Paris twice during this tournament, to experience both the early rounds and the finals, and to ensure I actually saw Andy play (remember that time I went to Australia?…). However, work constraints meant this wasn’t possible, and with an American adventure still to finance, it was probably for the best. Instead, I focused my efforts on getting finals tickets and when tickets went on sale on 22 March, I successfully managed to get myself 7000th-odd in the RG online queue for tickets. Unfortunately, the final was sold out by the time the 7000 people in front of me had finished their online shopping, so instead I opted to get tickets for the two men’s semi-finals. Two matches for the price of one? Sounds like a good deal to me. Read more about my experiences of getting tickets for the grand slams here.

Viv, a friend from Japan, is joining me for the Parisian adventure which will see us hit up Roland-Garros in the flesh on Friday, go for a cheeky Parkrun on the Saturday morning and then hopefully, if I haven’t made up that this exists, watch the final on a big screen by the Eiffel Tower on Sunday. Only two rounds stand between me and an Andy Murray semi final – fingers crossed he gets the memo this time round!

The Wimbledon Tour

“Winning Wimbledon is the pinnacle of tennis,” Andy Murray had said shortly after winning his first Wimbledon title, 77 years after the last British man had achieved the same accolade. As a fan, and a UK fan at that, it’s no surprise that Wimbledon is held in the same high esteem by me as it is by my favourite tennis player. I re-watch the 2013 and 2016 finals on a regular basis in a way that I have never done for the 2012 US Open final or either of the Olympic titles that Andy has won. It’s all about Wimbledon. Given my adoration of the tournament, you can imagine my delight when Sara, a long-term friend from university, presented me with an envelope which contained ticket confirmation for a tour of the Wimbledon grounds and museum entrance. My favourite place in London? Today?

Is Andy coming, too?


“It’s funny,” I voiced out loud as we walked towards the Wimbledon grounds, on one of the sunniest days of the year so far, “This is one of my favourite places in the world, yet I only come here once a year.” Until I gain my Wimbledon member status, it’s unlikely that my visit stats will be changing much, though I do plan to double my record by attending the tennis twice this year. With my tour of the grounds now behind me, that brings me up to a projected total of three visits for 2017!

Some have asked if it is worth doing the tour/going to the museum if you’ve been to Wimbledon as a spectator. Or is it just for the tourists who poorly plan their London holidays to fall outside the 2-week window of the tournament? I’d say: if you love Wimbledon, and you love tennis, you’ll love this.

 

The Tour

On the 1.5 hour tour you spend time in the broadcasting house where you are taken to the BBC studio, i.e. where Sue Barker chats tennis and interviews players every day of the tournament. You’re taken to the main interview room where players are obliged to be interviewed after their matches, regardless of whether they won or lost, and you have a chance to sit on the interviewee seats and see how it feels. You also get to see where the players enter the grounds, and walk around other VIP parts of the grounds which you wouldn’t have access to as a regular punter. And the final treat? A visit to where all the tears and joy have surfaced: centre court!

There were a lot of fun facts on this tour and I came out of it feeling like quite the Wimbledon expert; I plan to voice them loudly when I’m in the queue in July so people give me tennis respect. If you intend to do the tour in the future, maybe skip forward to my museum spiel so I don’t spoil the learning process for you!

Cat’s fav facts. Did you know…

(1) Wimbledon, as we know it, started in a different location down the road, and as a croquet club. It was only in 1877 that the name changed to include (lawn) tennis, and then only in 1899 that tennis became the primary sport in the name. This is the name it has retained ever since: The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Frightfully posh.

(2) The grass is kinda a big deal. It basically takes all year to cut it back, germinate it, cut it back, let it grow, cut it back. This grass is nothing less than perfect for Andy and friends!

(3) Last year, there were 5 million hacking attempts on the Wimbledon website. Like, why? Guys, you can’t stop Andy Murray from winning Wimbledon by hacking the website.

(4) The BBC studio is one of 18 broadcasting studios in the broadcasting house, and the broadcasting partnership between the BBC and Wimbledon has been running since 1927, making it the longest broadcasting partnership ever. Wowee. Just as well though, I would cry if the BBC lost broadcasting rights; Wimbledon is nothing without Sue Barker.

(5) It only costs £95 to become a member at Wimbledon  – bargain! All you need on top of that is three letters of recommendation from current members, or be a Wimbledon champion, or be heir to the throne. So obviously I’m about to become a member any day now.

(6) Tim Henman was asked last year how he’d feel about Henman Hill being renamed Murray Mound. Tim said straight-up, no: “If Andy’s going to win grand slams, I’m going to keep my hill.” Or words to that effect. I end up calling it both so people have no doubt what I’m talking about. “Shall we go to Henman Hill/Murray Mound?” This is definitely a long-term practical answer.

(7) Since 1887, there have only been six Wimbledon tournaments where it hasn’t rained at some point in the tournament. 2010 was the most recent year for this. Let’s hope 2017 follows suit!

(8) Mind that time Andy won Wimbledon in 2013 for the first time and he jumped up into his box to hug his coaches, and Kim, and then he forgot his Mum? Good times. Well turns out that’s a tradition that harks back to 1987 when Australian Pat Cash won Wimbledon and shocked everyone by clambering over seats to celebrate with the people he loves. It’s not obligatory, mind. Last year, Andy was so overcome with emotion that he just sat down to take it in, and even his pal Djokovic decided to eat a blade of grass when he won. I mean, each to their own.

 

The Museum
The museum is an incredible historical resource, telling the story not just of Wimbledon but of tennis in general, and how it has evolved over the years. I’d say it’s up there with the Parlamentarium in Brussels as being one of my favourite museums of all time (those of you who were with me in Brussels know this is high praise!). You can pick up a headset from the shop upstairs or you can choose to tour the museum without – I’d suggest you pick one up and then and choose what you’d like to listen to. The museum is very interactive, you can test your tennis knowledge (go to the museum after you’ve done the tour of the grounds if you want to feel smart!) and about halfway round, there is the coolest virtual reality experience ever where you’re transported to various venues within Wimbledon and given 360 degree vision thanks to some snazzy camera work they did last year. The highlight of the museum, for sure!

In conclusion, this is a must for all tennis-loving, Wimbledon-loving fans. And pre: Wimbledon 2017 is the perfect time to visit – because it’s all about Andy!

You can buy individual tickets for admission into the museum, or you can buy a combined ticket for museum admission and a tour of the grounds. There are no tours between mid-June and mid-July. The museum remains open in the lead-up to the tournament and is open to ticket-holders during the tournament. A few days after the tournament has ended the museum opens again. Check out the Wimbledon website for everything you need to know!

Watching the Tennis When You’re Not At the Tennis

Much like London during Wimbledon, there are an abundance of screens dotted around Melbourne, enabling you to watch the tennis, even when you’re not at the tennis. Although I had googled where to find the screens, I didn’t attempt to seek out a specific screen, partially because I quickly learned: there are screens everywhere. Here are my favs:

(1) Federation Square
Federation Square, situated beside the famous Flinders Street Station, is the beating heart of the city centre, and provides a central, public space which is used for multiple cultural and touristic purposes throughout the year. Interestingly, it was recently named the 6th Best Public Square in the world; not a shabby claim to fame at all. This is where you can find not one, not two, but three screens all in close proximity: two outside in the square itself (literally facing each other) and one inside the cafe area of ACMI, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (a museum like no other). Between the two screens, I camped out to watch Jo Konta take on Serena Williams. Unfortunately, the match did not go in British favour, but basking in the sun, surrounded by a majority British-supporting crowd, made for a very enjoyable experience. FYI, this square was not named after Roger Federer but there is a huge placard with his face on it beside the square because, why wouldn’t you? Everyone loves Roger Federer.

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(2) Crown
If in doubt about the names of streets and areas in Melbourne, choose your favourite London location and chances are, you’ll find it in the Australian city (no but really, I’m staying in Richmond, I saw a bus to Camberwell, just waiting for Brixton to pop up). A friend had advised me to go to the Southbank area, south of the Yarra, and right enough, when I arrived in the area, I felt like I stumbled back onto the Southbank in London. Either Southbank wins my heart. It was here that I stumbled across the intimate outdoor screening beside the Crown, a very posh hotel/restaurant/casino complex, with deckchairs aplenty and a Pimms stand at the back. I watched the last couple of games of the Dimitrov vs. Goffin match here and was pretty gutted I hadn’t found the venue sooner. Who doesn’t want to sit beside a river on a summer’s afternoon watching tennis and drinking Pimms?

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(3) Home
Every evening since arriving, I’ve returned back to my Air bnb apartment and watched whatever tennis is going with my Air bnb hosts. It was Nadal vs. Monfils on Monday, the end of Federer vs. Zverev on Tuesday, Nadal vs. Raonic on Wednesday. Tonight I’m off to Fed Square to watch Federer’s semi final against fellow countryman Wawrinka. I’m not gonna lie, I’m getting pretty psyched up about the idea of a Nadal vs. Federer final. Wawrinka, Dimitrov, can you just stand back and let that happen? The world will be forever grateful.

I love being able to watch tennis where ever I am, whenever I like: being in the right time zone is the best. I am seriously considering how I can give up my day job and become a groupie, following the tennis players as they travel the world on tour. Andy Murray, what can I do for you?

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En Route to Aus

You always think you’re going to have loads of time at the airport, waiting to board your flight. At least, I always think this and then find myself frantically rushing about trying to achieve a million things in a half hour stint (pretty sure I’ve bought every adaptor in existence several times over; they just seem to disappear into a black hole). Yesterday was no different and though I intended to launch this blog whilst sipping on an iced coffee at Caffè Nero in Heathrow Airport, I am actually publishing this in Delifrance, Hong Kong airport the following day, having written up the post on the plane.

As anticipated, this week was long, challenging and so bitterly, bitterly cold, but I got through it and as I arrived home from work yesterday afternoon, I felt a huge weight had been lifted. No less because Andy Murray has made it through the first week! It’s hit home again this year how time difference has really limited my enjoyment of the Australian Open up until now. You wake up to match results. You view snippet updates on your Twitter feed as you commute into work (‘Has anyone else seen that Djokovic has just gone out?’ I wondered (almost) out loud, looking around at my fellow commuters as the bus rolled down Brixton Hill). You check-in briefly with the BBC commentary when you arrive at your desk. But by the time your caffeine fix has kicked in properly and you’re ready to face the day, Australia has gone to bed.

You can understand why I’m so excited to be able to view this tournament in real time. And if the second week is anything like the first week, it’s going to be an incredible week of tennis! My man Andy has won the first three rounds in straight sets, most recently beating Sam Querry, the man who knocked Djokovic out of Wimbledon last year. Fellow countryman Dan Evans, currently ranked 51 in the world, has shown everyone that his impressive play in Wimbledon last year was not a fluke: he’s already beaten Marin Cilic, the world number 7, and Aussie Bernard Tomic, ranked 27th, to join Andy in the fourth round – what a hero. Not forgetting Johanna Konta who is smashing her way through the womens tournament, most recently beating Caroline Wozniacki to ensure her place in the last 16. C’mon the Brits. Meanwhile, the shock of the tournament has been Djokovic going out in the second round, although perhaps less surprising really given his early exits from Wimbledon and the Olympics last year. As you can probably imagine, my initial reaction was a mix of joy, shock and disbelief, and I was messaging everyone in my phonebook to tell them (I really appreciate how many of my friends humour me and my tennis chat – thanks guys). Djokovic has been the reason why Andy has lost 4/5 of his Australian Open finals. Does Novak’s early exit finally pave the way for a Murray win?