Be a part of history: Head to Wimbledon 2017
This year's Wimbledon tennis tournament takes place between July 3rd and 16th, giving you a chance to see some of the greats play. But what can you expect from the Grand Slam and why is Wimbledon so iconic?
Monday July 3rd marks the start of what is arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world - Wimbledon. Hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, the Grand Slam creates plenty of buzz across the UK. However, London sees a lot more excitement, making it the place to be when the tournament starts, whether or not you have tickets.
Wimbledon sees the world's best tennis players descend on the only annual Grand Slam still played on grass, resulting in some of the fastest matches you'll see. The stars aren't just on the courts either, as celebrities and royalty gather to see the tense matches, making every part of the tournament an event.
While there is so much to do and see in London during the summer, getting the chance to go to Wimbledon or soak up the atmosphere it creates in the city is a definite must. But why is it that Wimbledon is so popular and what can you expect from it?
Over a century of tennis
Not only is Wimbledon one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, it's also the oldest, after first taking place back in 1877 - 125 years ago. When it first started, Wimbledon was far from the spectacle of today, and offered much less in the way of prizes for the victors. There was also just one event, the Gentlemen's Singles, which was won by Spencer William Gore with just 200 people watching.
The tennis played at Wimbledon - and all other tennis tournaments - is not actually the original game. Instead, it's lawn tennis, which is a variation on the indoor game of 'real tennis', which was even enjoyed by Henry VIII. When Wimbledon first started, this game was fairly new, so players didn't have the equipment or skills that players have today. Instead, they played with heavy, wooden rackets and the strokes would be fairly imprecise. However, the rules are the much the same today, even if the game is faster.
Since its inception, the Wimbledon Grand Slam has only ever not happened eight times, as it was put on hold between 1915 and 1918, and again during 1940 and 1945 due to the First and Second World Wars. The annual event has grown in popularity so much, with women being invited to take part in 1884 and more matches being introduced over the years. In fact, the 1967 tournament was the first ever colour television broadcast, which shows how much everyone loves tennis.
Watching the tennis
From the first tournament with 200 spectators, Wimbledon now attracts around 500,000 people annually to its matches, with more tuning in via TV, radio and the internet. This means that competition for tickets is just as fierce as the gameplay on the courts.
To get tickets in advance, you need to have entered into the public ballot, but even this doesn't guarantee you tickets. There are always more people in the ballot than there are available tickets, so applicants are picked at random. This means you can't request tickets for specific courts or days and just need to hope you get a good seat - if you get one at all. However, you can buy number Three Court and Centre Court tickets the day before online.
If you don't mind queueing, you can also get premium tickets on the day from the Gate Three turnstiles. The lines are usually really long and there will only be a limited number available, but it's worth it if you really want to see a good match. However, you need to remember that you can only pay for these by cash, and it's one ticket per person queueing, so families need to stick together. Other tickets available on the day are for unreserved seating and standing areas on specific courts.
Luckily, those wishing to buy tickets on the day don't have far to go to get them, as our hotel is just 40 minutes away from the All England Lawn Club via the District Line. This means you can be there quickly if you have advanced tickets, and won't need to factor in long travel times if you are trying to get tickets on the day.
Food and drink
When it comes to food and drink at Wimbledon, a few things have become iconic and seem to go hand in hand in with the Grand Slam. After all, you can't have Wimbledon without strawberries, which is why around 28,000 kg of the fruit get served up each year, not to mention Pimms and Champagne.
There are food and drinks vendors located throughout the grounds, offering everything from sandwiches to pizza. However, you can also take your own food and drink to the tournament, so long as you follow the rules on the containers you can use and the amount of alcohol you take with you.
Whether or not you manage to get tickets to the tournament, you can still enjoy a fabulous Wimbledon-inspired Afternoon Tea in our Park Terrace Restaurant, while enjoying beautiful views of Kensington Gardens. Our limited edition Wimbledon Afternoon Tea is being served from July 3rd to 16th, and features a selection of delicious cakes and a Pimms jelly.
Image credit: Grinvalds via iStock