The queue, I found, would wind in and out of Wimbledon Park and was close to, if not more than a km long. And they were serious affairs, these queues. Each of us was given a queue card noting our place in the queue and if we didn't empty our bladders before arriving, woe betide us, because it took us the better part of 4 hours before actually reaching the gate.
After being cajoled into trying for Court 2 tickets, (Centre Court and Court 1 seemingly being snapped up by the brave folks who'd stayed overnight under and on top of newspapers and tents) I stepped into Wimbledon, the first thing I saw being:
V. Spadea and I. Ljubicic ( a name I still can't pronounce with a straight face) were scheduled to play first on Court 2, so that was something to look forward to. Meanwhile I met up with Jane and Jan Hoong, who had skipped audit and classes respectively to come.
We walked around the grounds. Housing 18 courts and two separate buildings housing Centre Court and Court 1 respectively, it had its own bank and 4 or 5 different places to eat. Strawberries and cream, champagne and Pimms' being out of our budget however, we trudged around, picking spots to return to later.
Arriving early, I chatted with a friendly Indian chap sitting in front who had come yesterday, but was driven away by rain. Looking upwards, we convinced ourselves the good weather would last the day out.
After watching the ballboys/girls march out to take their positions, and seeing the net being measured and erected, Ljubicic marched out from the opposite side to great applause. Vince followed after, affably waving back to the crowd, a stark difference to Ljubicic, who, it seemed, was of a particularly stony disposition. Or perhaps he was getting ready for the match.
A tight match followed. Vince seemed a bit taken aback by the raw power of Ljubicic's serve and single-handed backhand, while not being able to fire himself up enough. After losing the first set 6-4, he tried to perk up a bit, with increasing crowd support, but still ended up losing the second set. Ljubicic, sensing victory, was on form and hitting winners past Vince every time the latter charged the net.
The tide turned as Vince started to step into his shots, forcing himself to return Ljubicic's topspin serves on the rise. This saved him enough points to force a fourth set. Fired up, he came out firing and started holding his serve while attempting to break Ljubicic's almost-invincible service game. However, he was denied a few line calls by the umpire, whom he later suggested of being against him throughout the game. This break in concentration seemed to distract him just enough for Ljubicic to close out the final set after a nearly losing it at 4-6.
Having wandered around to stretch my legs, I stayed for a set of David Nalbandian's game. My sister being more of a Nalbandian fan than I am, I decided it would make interesting storytelling. However, Venus William's match against Alla Kudryavtseva was coming up, so that took precedence.
Wimbledon was my first time seeing scores of British get behind their countrymen and cher them on. The hill outside Centre Court was packed with people watching Tim Henman's marathon with Carlos Moya. More than one ferocious "Go it, Timbo!" was heard from an otherwise looking sweet-looking granny and the collective sigh when he lost a point was very well choreographed indeed. You can imagine the chaos that erupted when Moya double-faulted on match point.England unites to support Henman
When I have more money, more time and maybe someone else to go with (it gets boring standing in a queue alone), I'd like to return and see Centre Court for myself. All in all, Wimbledon 2007 will be one of the things I'll remember about the UK when I've left.