Such an amazing experience.
I was running slightly late today. We had a Eurovision Song Contest party at mine last night, which was damn good fun and went on quite late, so I was needs must a late start this morning, which meant I was in something of a rush. The gates opened at 12, but at that time I'd not even left my house. However, the main action, commencing with the closing of the roof, wasn't due to start until 2.30 so I knew I had a bit of time. Having to take a somewhat circuitous route to avoid tube engineering works, I finally arrived in SW19 at around 1.30pm, and dived in a taxi-share from Southfields down to the club. A quick ticket inspection and a baggage scan and I was in!
I joined an interminably long queue to pick up some bottled drinks to take in with me, as I'd been too disorganised to manage to bring any, and then I knew exactly where I was headed!
You see, as I wandered past the food court area under Centre Court, I noticed that the south end of the grounds where the new court is situated seemed to be open to the public and indeed I could just glimpse people apparently entering the new stadium itself. So how could I resist a chance to stickybeak?
I dashed over and climbed up into the stands to have a look. And what they've done, I think, is magnificent. It's brand new, and yet it has this look, in spite of also looking brand new, of also looking like it's always been there, has always been a part of the tournament.
They were letting people in to wander freely, which I thought was admirable, knowing how curious we'd all be. So I went up to the top and walked all the way around to take some photos from every angle, then went right down to court level as well to see what it was like from there.
It reminds me in many ways of the MCA in Melbourne and Court 1 at Roland Garros, which they call the bullring. An open feel to the court, but wonderfully imtimate, with enough seating to provide a great atmosphere when there's a close match on. I think it's going to be terrific and I can't wait to see some live action from there.
However, time was running on, and I needed to find my seat. Moisture was in the air and I knew if the rains came they'd close the roof earlier than planned, so I hot footed it round the Centre Court to locate my entrance.