Last spring when I realized that a business trip to London would coincide with Wimbledon, I decided to cross one more experience off my bucket list and attend what is arguably the world's most famous tennis tournament.
It was all I could have dreamed of and more.
For one thing, the arena is smaller than what I imagined, so you're closer to the action than, say, attending a ball game at Met's Field.
And you're not stuck in your seat for the whole day, but can come and go as you wish, sampling matches and hopping back and forth between Centre (sic) Court, where the big names play, as well as Courts 3 thought 19, where 128 of the best players in the world are vying to become the next big names playing Centre Court one day.
And then there's the Gatsby Club. If you've joined for the day, you can stop in as often as you please for a multi-course lobster-level lunch, afternoon tea, Champagne or other libations from an open bar, and the signature strawberries and cream, all from a menu designed by famed chef Albert Roux, OBE.
Best of all, here's who I saw play: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams. Jackpot!
Securing tickets to Wimbledon can be a challenge. A lottery is held in January. A few lucky winners are selected and get the chance to buy tickets, although they have no choice of which day or which court they will be seated, as those choices are made at random by a computer. Or hopeful attendees can join the early morning queue at the Wimbledon entrance gates in the hopes of snaring one of the 500 tickets for Court 1, 500 for Court 2, and 500 Centre Court tickets available each day (except for the last four days on Centre Court.)
But foreigners with deep pockets are in luck. There's still time to purchase The Wimbledon Experience package, available only to those who reside outside the United Kingdom.
For a fee that starts at 1,100 British pounds, you get a ticket to all Centre Court games as well as Courts 3 through 19 throughout the day, a 24-hour Underground Travelcard and shuttle bus transfers from the Wimbledon tube stop to the Gatsby Club, entrance to the Gatsby Club throughout the day with lunch, tea and open bar, and a night's accommodation (double occupancy) in a 4- or 5-star London hotel, from Doubletree Hiltons to the tony Mayfair or the Savoy.
Wimbledon runs from Monday June 29 through Sunday July 12, although some days are already sold out. Others still remain, however, offering a last chance for anyone who wants to cross one more experience off his or her own bucket list.
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