It’s Wimbledon time again, so as the tournament kicks off (or should that be serves?), Nadia Kamil explains her love.
“Stay there!” nine-year-old me screams at Shirley, who is cowering behind the frosted glass of the living room door.
On the telly, Tim Henman is playing at Wimbledon. Shirley is convinced he is playing better when she’s not looking, so she stands, quivering, long fingers curled around the door frame, waiting for me to tell her he’s held serve.
“He’s held!” I yell over my shoulder. She comes in muttering thanks to a god she doesn’t believe in and sits back in her armchair. Several minutes later, she’s back behind the glass. Bloody Tim Henman.
Like my tendency to start drinking in the early afternoon and being overly judgmental of people’s outfits, I inherited my love of tennis from my grandmother. “Come on, Tim!” was just another phrase I learned from her, along with all the other Welsh granny classics like “cwtch”, the recipe for Welsh cakes and “you’re not seriously going to wear that, are you?”
She would talk about when she went to Wimbledon in the 1970s in the same tone that people in their late 30s talk about Ceefax now. Glorious days of pure pleasure. She saw Ilie Năstase play and I was half convinced she’d made the whole thing up because I don’t think I heard anyone else ever say his name.
The (strawberry) seed was planted and I longed to visit the hallowed turf of the All England Club from when I was small enough to be an unpaid child, throwing towels and balls at sweaty professionals.
When I moved to London I promised myself some things:
1. I would drink more Bloody Marys in the afternoon.
2. I would go to Wimbledon.
Wimbledon to tennis is like Beyoncé to humanity. It is the greatest and loveliest and best appreciated live or with multiple channel HD coverage. There are many reasons why the All England Championships are the best way to spend a fortnight of your summer. Here are some:
Nigh on 24-hour streaming coverage of the true people’s princess. She’s better than a permanent marker.
Wimbledon is the only grand slam to have tickets available to buy on the day of play. This is why it has the famous queue. The queue is a great opportunity for free camping in London. Why not save money on your holidays by camping out in Richmond Park and drinking so much Pimm’s you don’t care about not having a real toilet? Sponsors tend to give out free stuff to the queue too; it’s basically the Garden of Eden but in an orderly line you have to clear away at 6am.
The grounds pass
If you don’t want to queue overnight you can usually show up and buy a grounds pass. This gets you access to all the non-show courts and, of course, Henman Hill/Murray Mound/Serena’s Solar Plexus or whatever you want to call it. If once you get inside you feel a thirst that only a show court can quench, you can queue for returns which are only £5! To see Rafa Nadal’s real-life big left arm in the actual flesh! FIVE POUNDS!
Tennis is beautiful. When you see those yellow balls being belted across pristine green lawns, it’s watching physics in action. Clean, crisp lines, the speed of the players, the satisfying POP! of ball on racquet. It’s like ballet but with more visors. (Everything is better with more visors.)
If the only formal wear you own is a union flag printed suit covered in buttons and badges, Wimbledon is the place for you. (Do they also wear those to funerals and tea dances?) It’s also the place for you if you’re a Sloaney type with a pair of £150 leggings and some Ray-Bans. You can really get away with wearing anything. This [right] is my outfit from last time I went.
The look I was going for was ‘millionaire clown who had a nice holiday in Japan once’ and, tbh, I think I nailed it. The beauty of Wimblebonbons is that this outfit is 100 per cent acceptable. Mostly because of the visor.
They let you bring your own picnic. Pop in to Sainsbury’s on your way to the grounds and pick up those G&Ts in a can (three for £5, so get six, why not) and a ciabatta or whatever. Spend £6 on a Pimm’s when you get in anyway because YOU’RE AT WIMBLEDON! WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN AGAIN?! (Next year.)
Cheer on that pointy-toothed growling Scottish hunk, because he’s cheering on women like a boss. A boss who pays women the same as their male counterparts and offers generous parental leave.
If you do have a spare ticket this year, please take my gran. She’ll bring the brandy.1993 Views
Nadia is a Welsh-Iraqi writer, actor and comedian. She's into crafts, social justice and buffets. @NadiaKamil