A tennis break in Wimbledon
Strawberries, cream and grass court history in the home of tennis
Tennis is the life blood of London’s leafy suburb Wimbledon. From its annual tournament to its role as the 2012 tennis events host, Wimbledon is firmly among the cream of the world’s tennis destinations, making it top seed as a destination for tennis devotees.
The legendary All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon has seen countless tennis greats compete on its world-class courts, and the eyes of the tennis world gaze tantalisingly upon it every June during its famous tournament. Once the 2012 Games draw to a close, tours of this prestigious venue will open once more, with visitors able to glimpse inside such places as the hallowed Centre Court. The tour also includes admission to the on-site museum, full of interactive features, films, touchscreen displays and even the ‘ghost’ of John McEnroe.
After being inspired by the Wimbledon legacy, brush up on your own ball skills. Predictably, the area isn’t short of tennis clubs, but not all run lessons for non-members. For an afternoon’s tennis tuition try the Westside Lawn Tennis Club , which runs one-on-one lessons for non-members during the week.
On a fine evening, take a picnic tea onto Wimbledon Common – and a bat and ball for good measure – and enjoy the oh-so-English woodland and greenery. For an inside retreat, the Fox and Grapes has a lovely Wimbledon Common location and serves up the kind of filling grub hungry tennis aficionados require. Feast on English staples such as Cornish fisherman’s pie, English brown ale pie and battered Cornish pollock and chips with mushy peas.
Top tip: For a luxury country bolthole complete with outdoor hardcourt tennis courts, tuck yourself away in Pennyhill Park Hotel , a 45-minute drive from Wimbledon.
See how tennis was played in Tudor times at the Royal Tennis Court at Hampton Court Palace – a striking red-brick royal residence favoured by renowned English monarch, King Henry VIII. The train from Wimbledon to Hampton Court station takes just 20 minutes, and the palace is a short stroll across the Thames, over Hampton Court Bridge. The Royal Tennis Courts here are one of the few places spectators can watch the historical indoor version of real tennis, from which today’s tennis descends. The sport has been kept alive by its royal endorsement – Henry VIII was a big fan – and this is the oldest surviving real tennis court in the country, built in the 16th century. To the modern eye, real tennis looks like a sort of tennis/squash hybrid, with more complex rules than its contemporary counterpart. Call the courts in advance to see when games are on and when spectators can enjoy a game. After taking in a match or two, a peek around the palace is a must. Features include Henry VIII’s bed chamber, his Great Hall, and in from November to January find festive magic a-plenty at Hampton Court’s popular winter ice rink.
Top tip: Make time for a wander around Hampton Court Palace’s ancient grounds and find your way through the oldest hedge maze in the world.
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Strawberries and cream
Tucking into strawberries and cream while watching Wimbledon every summer!Wimbledon