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All you need to know about the Wimbledon Tennis Championships

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Even if you’re not a tennis fan, or even a great lover of sports, it’s unlikely that you’ve never heard of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

As one of the most sought after and long-standing tennis Grand Slam competitions in the world today, winning at Wimbledon is the dream of every racket-wielding sportsman or woman. Athletes from all over the world are pitted against each other, all at the peak of their physical and mental game. As incredible as it is to play, it is also an amazing event to watch.

Here is everything that you need to know about the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

Wimbledon

Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis in action at Wimbledon

 

Then & Now

The Wimbledon Championship originated from The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, a private club founded all the way back in 1868. After only a few years, the popularity of the club’s early tennis competitions brought in hundreds of paying viewers. The lawns at their ground first heralded today’s ‘Centre Court’; this is the showpiece where the main court is surrounded by the other courts. Before 1922, the champion from the previous year’s tournament only had to play in the final against whoever achieved enough victories to reach their challenge!

In 1937, history was made when the Championship was seen on British Television for the first time.

Ever since the grainy pictures first appeared, the sport has boomed, and global fame has now made Wimbledon a world-wide sensation. With new renovation and improvement to the courts, thousands of people can now watch under retractable roofs on Centre Court. No more rain stopping play for so long! Even the British Royal Family has their special box at Centre Court, and are in regular attendance at the games.

A view of the centre court at Wimbledon

A view of the centre court at Wimbledon

And of course, it wouldn’t be right to omit to mention the continued tradition of British strawberries and cream before moving on; the summer fruit dish goes hand in hand with Wimbledon fever, and is enjoyed by people watching at the grounds and via television around the globe.

 

Two Wonderful Weeks

The tournament currently begins between 20-26th of June, on a Monday. From then, 13 days of incredible sportsmanship and prowess is displayed, and skills are tested right up to the second weekend when the finals are held. There are many events held at Wimbledon over these two weeks. They range in age, gender, physical and mental ability, but the five main events attract the most viewers and prize money. 128 players compete in the singles tournaments to make it to the Gentlemen’s or Ladies final. There are then 64 teams in each of the Gentlemen’s, Ladies and Mixed Doubles competitions for a chance at the silverware.

In both of the Gentlemen’s games, the sets are played to the best of five whilst all others are played to the best of three. If scores are tied 6-6 in any game except the fifth or third, respectively, the tie-break games are played, and players can only achieve victory with a two point lead! Unfortunately, if you lose more than a couple of points, you’re eliminated. That’s what makes a Grand Slam so cruel, and yet so rewarding for those who come through the gauntlet!

 

Players and Prizes

So how do you enter the Wimbledon Grand Slam as a competing athlete? Well, players are ‘seeded’ or entered into the competition based on their international ranking. This is basically how well they have played against other ranked players, and their position moves based on wins and losses. Each year though, the committee will select a wild card player to allow in, even though they don’t qualify by rank, just to make things interesting! Back in 2001, a wild card player actually won the Gentlemen’s Singles Championship.

Sporting fame and your name in the history books isn’t the only incentive for entering. From the first round losers receiving a modest £14,500, the prize money roughly doubles at each climb in position to reach a whopping £1,150,000 for the winner, and half that for the losing finalist!

 

A Part of the Magic

If your imagination has been captured, and your excitement is building for this year’s incredible event, then you may want to get yourself a ticket. Since the demand is incredibly high, most centre and show court tickets are available from the start of the year via a public ballot.

Debenture tickets are available for fans who invest in the club, and these can be bought and sold between fans and the public too. However, since the seats are good, and most people don’t get a chance to buy them, they tend to reach a very expensive price. If you didn’t get access via the public ballot and want to get a Centre Court Debenture seat from 2011-2015, be prepared to pay in the tens of thousands. That being said, Wimbledon is still the only Grand Slam in the world where fans who haven’t got tickets can still queue up and get a great seat on a main court. This has led to many queuing overnight and has become a part of the excitement that is the Wimbledon experience. Don’t forget your sleeping bag!

 

Conclusion

With amazing attendance, breath-taking performances and sporting triumphs that will go down in history, the Wimbledon Tennis Championship really could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Whether you’re playing, watching from home, or you’re lucky enough to be watching from the edge of your court-side seat, now you know everything you need to know about what is arguably the world’s greatest Grand Slam.

Image Credits: Carine06 and ReeSaunders

A trip around the Circle Line Sights

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As one of the oldest lines on the London Underground, the Circle Line links east and west in the centre of the city and gives access to a number of sights that are well worth seeing. Popular at weekends with stag and hen parties, you will often see almost as much colour on the Tube as you’ll see off it, with brightly costumed men and women making their way around the line with a pub at each station.

While some of the stops are not worth the fare, there are plenty of things to be seen on the line that make a beep on your Oyster card very worthwhile.

 

Embankment

Getting out of the Tube station at Embankment will bring you face-to-face within the London Eye on the opposite side of the Thames. It’s a spectacular sight, and one that shouldn’t be missed on any trip to London.

Once you’ve seen your fill of the Eye, take a walk along the Embankment towards our next stop on the tour – Westminster. Along the way, you’ll pass the Battle of Britain Monument that commemorates the servicemen who took part in the battle during World War II. The monument was opened in 2005 and features a number of panels of high-relief bronze sculpture depicting airmen scrambling to their aircraft during the battle. The monument also lists the names of all the airmen who took part in the Battle on the Allied side.

 

Westminster

At the top of Embankment, you can’t miss one of the sights that is instantly evocative of London. Queen Elizabeth Clock Tower, better known as Big Ben, stands on the corner and marks the start of the Palace of Westminster.

In addition to the Palace, containing the Houses of Parliament and Lords, Westminster has its abbey, which was the venue for the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Catherine in 2011. Outside the abbey and in front of the Houses of Parliament is a small green where you can usually see protesters with placards trying to attract the eye of passing MPs.

 

Paddington

Jump back onto the Tube at Westminster and out again at Paddington Station. While there isn’t all that much to see outside the station, as a commuter hub with just a few restaurants and bars to serve weary travellers, inside there is a lovely bronze statue that’s worth a look.

Paddington Station with its most famous resident, Paddington Bear

Paddington Station with its most famous resident, Paddington Bear

Most Brits will be familiar with Paddington Bear, the character from the Michael Bond books who later made it into his own televised cartoon. As the unofficial patron of Paddington Station, the bear has a bronze statue where he sits on his suitcase and waits with travellers pausing before their train.

 

Baker Street

As a key interchange on the Circle Line for commuters to switch to the Jubilee, Bakerloo, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines, Baker Street is a workhorse on the Tube system. However, that isn’t the main reason why Baker Street is famous.

“Winding your way down to Baker Street”, Home of the famous Sherlock Holmes

“Winding your way down to Baker Street”, Home of the famous Sherlock Holmes

The most well-known inhabitant of Baker Street was the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Having seen many incarnations in books, films and on television, Holmes has been a staple in drama across the world. Although 221b Baker Street didn’t exist at the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was writing his novels and short stories, it has now been created and is the home of the Official Sherlock Holmes Museum.

 

Conclusion

The Circle Line has a great many attractions along its length that are worth a visit on your trip to London. Take a step into some of Britain’s military, parliamentary and military history with some of the stops on the way.

Image Credits: Zoe Goodacre and Zoe Goodacre

Essential London weekend breaks and getaways

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If you’re planning a lightning break in London and want to get the essentials in during your trip, planning is everything. Making sure you have an idea of what you want to see is the first part, then plotting out where things are in relation to each other will make sure you spend your time seeing the sights instead of looking at the inside of a tube train.

Take a look through our suggested itineraries for a guide on how to make the most of your brief time in the city.

 

If you have one day

If you’re really limited on the time you have to spend in the city and want to see the most iconic sights that London has to offer, your best place to start is Westminster.

First up on your tour is the iconic Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. With the Queen Elizabeth clock tower soaring up on the south side of the building housing the famous Big Ben bell, the gothic structure with its intricate columns and imposing façade it is one of the most well-known symbols of London around the world.

Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster

The houses themselves are open to members of the public to visit on organised tours at the weekends, or to UK citizens by contacting their MP. Tourists visiting from outside the country are only able to visit during the summer recess and can join one of the organised tours of the house.

Once you’ve taken in the Palace, a quick walk across the road will bring you to Westminster Abbey. In 2011, the vast abbey was the venue for the British wedding in over 20 years when Prince William married Catherine Middleton, making her the Duchess of Cambridge and future Queen of England. Tours depart regularly taking visitors around the cavernous interior and give a comprehensive history of abbey and the site on which it stands.

Once you’re done in Westminster, head for the Thames and walk down the embankment away from the Houses of Parliament. The length of the embankment makes up the last mile of the London Marathon and has often been seen on television. You’ll be able to see Westminster and Waterloo Bridges, as well as the London Eye on the south bank of the river.

Walk to Embankment Tube station and jump on the Northern Line northbound and hop off at Tottenham Court Road. From there, it’s a short walk west to Oxford Circus, where you’ll be able to see some of London’s famous theatres, cinemas and get a feel for the beating heart of the city’s West End.

 

Two days or more

If you have a little more time in London, there are plenty of things to fill your time. For lovers of museums, a trip to South Kensington brings you to the middle of the main museum district and allows you to visit the Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums in one trip. Take a packed lunch with you and walk by the Royal Albert Hall to Hyde Park. Just the other side you will find Knightsbridge, with some of the most famous and prestigious shopping in London.

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe

For culture, the South Bank Centre has much to offer. The Royal Festival Hall has some wonderful restaurants that offer beautiful views over the Thames, and from there it’s not far to walk to the Tate Modern or Shakespeare’s Globe.

 

Conclusion

There is more than enough to keep you busy in London for weeks, but if your time is limited it’s possible to prioritise and see the most important sights. Think ahead about what you most want to see and get your Tube map out to make sure you’re not losing time travelling when you could be seeing the sights you want to see.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2

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