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Our Favorite Sports Season
Where Sports and Great Travel Merge, Part I
I am not a sports fanatic. I am a loyal Philadelphia fan, but living at a distance, I am usually relegated to catching them during the playoffs. While Philly is a GREAT sports town, we haven't seen the glory days of the recent past lately. There were several years that found every professional Philly team in the playoffs. I long to have those days back. And as fan, I need no evidence to believe they will be.
That said, I can say without exception that mid-summer is when my wife and I create schedules to support a lot of competitive events. We start most days in July setting aside morning viewings of Wimbledon, the Tour De France and the British Open.
What Scotland's Saint Andrews links course is to golfers, so is Wimbledon to Tennis players. Competitors dream of playing and winning in many places, but Wimbledon is where immortality happens.
But you don't have to be a tennis player to enjoy the town itself. Lyn and I have traveled to the UK many times. it is a permanent fixture in our travel diet. If there, you should be sure to catch all the standard attractions. My favorites are the London Eye, Churchill's War Bunker and Westminster. My wife, Lyn likes the Tate and Trafalgar Square. These are, of course, few among many things we love about London.
But while you are there, if you want to get the feel of a fine English village, without traveling to the boonies, you should visit Wimbledon. Along with a bit of tennis emmersion at the museum, you can do some rather serious high-end shopping or just take int he town's flavor and have a cup of tea. If you prefer an adult beverage there are, among other standouts, pubs like the Prince of Wales. Take a selfie there.
But if your are not there to watch championship tennis, don't go there during the tournament! It is, to use a military phrase describing crowds, "nut to butt" throughout the entire nine days.
Ah, but if you are an acolyte of the game on grass, Wimbledon (the event) must be on your bucket list. This year was no disappointment. The play was intense and the venues were on fire.
One of the most interesting players to watch was Canadian, Milos Raunic. He qualified for the final in a bruising match against the legendary Roger Federer. For some reason, he did not appear to bring his A game against Andy Murray in the final, but keep your eye on this one. He's been quietly making a name for himself and was red hot in earlier majors this year. He will be at or near the top for years to come.
Perhaps he looked a bit off due to Murray's incredible play in the final. Murray took him out in straight sets (6-4, 7-6, 7-6). This was Murray's third Wimbledon title.
Sony is a name I trust when it comes to cameras. I have owned one for years. All my travel photography is taken with a Sony. And with the amazing advances in technology, I know I'll be buying another - soon. Who knows? Maybe we you'll one day be at Wimbledon capturing a moments like these.
Equally impressive was Serena Williams and her victory over Angelique Kerber. She finished the job in two sets (7-6, 6-3) which included a string of aces to end the match with an exclamation point! With this, her 7th victory at the venue, Williams has probably met as many royals as Churchill.
With this victory, Williams ties Stephi Graf's all time majors record of 22 wins. She'll break it soon.
Listening to the back stories told as the matches unfolded, it is clear that the difference between the champions and the vanquished was simple hard work. Murray had hired an army of coaches with different specialties who worked in shifts. Murray spent hours working on every aspect of his game.
Williams worked almost every day of the tournament, including sessions tethered to a bungee cord to increase her speed and strength.
Murray reflected the price he had paid for his third Wimbledon cup, in the waves of emotion that repeatedly doubled him over, as he buried his face in a towel.
For her part, Serena was very gracious and poised in victory. As was the case the previous year, she thoroughly enjoyed the moment. She gave playful interviews and won the crowd during and after play.
After the match, there is a traditional photo op in the clubhouse. The champion stands in front of a wall of names who have all won at Wimbledon. Between Serena and Venus Williams, it is inspiring to see how many times the name Williams appears on that board since the beginning of the century.
Can the Average Joe Enjoy Wimbledon?
Oh, hell, yeah!
Aorangi Terrace, nicknamed Henry Hill, is a great location to see all the big events on a Jumbotron screen. You can access this location and even a few court-side locations for the entire nine days for £20 (£8 for a one-day ticket). This is a huge bargain! Walking in a gaggle at a PGA event is much more expensive and less comfortable.
You can spend the day at the events then stroll the village in the evening, and of course, hit the pub.
Yeah. Wimbledon. Bucket list. Definitely.
Trust me when I say you need one of these for a day of sporting events where no seats are available. My sons bought me something similar for golf events. Others can walk with the gallery. I'll find a nice shady spot with a good view.
Next up: The Tour De France, where hell comes on a light-weight diamond frame.
Matt Jordan is a travel writer, commentator and host of streetpolitics.us