Nino Severino: Trip to Wimbledon brought back fantastic memories
- Credit: Archant
In his latest column, Nino Severino shares his experiences on a trip to the world-famous All England Club at Wimbledon.
I spent eight glorious years visiting The All England Club for the Championships at Wimbledon, and through those years collected some amazing memories.
My schedule this week took me back to the world famous private members club, well known for hosting the greatest tennis tournament in the world, and what an amazing visit it was.
I had a meeting arranged with Anne Keothavong, ex-professional WTA tennis player, BBC Sport commentator and now the captain of the Great Britain Fed Cup ladies team, and also with Kathy Martin, a representative of our female tennis world governing, the WTA.
I have to admit, it was a bit strange driving up to gate 5, the official entrance for visitors, just approaching set off the flood of memories. The security let me through and I went to the reception to carry out all the processes you need to complete to enter. Security is very tight, and rightly so. It’s all carried out for the right reasons, so I was very patient through the whole process – it was just great to be back, after three years away.
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While I was waiting for the official to come and greet me – we were meeting in the All England private members’ tea room – I thought I would just have a wander around.
Wimbledon does look very different when it is just a club for the members. For example, it does not have all the green dividers between the outside courts which all the visitors have to walk around to watch the matches during the Championships – it was quite strange to see it like that!
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The grass was getting a lot of attention from all the ground staff who lovingly look after these very special courts, which will eventually showcase the best tennis in the world this summer. I must say, the grass looked outstanding.
I just stood there, looking out over the courts, thinking back to when I used to watch my wife, being surrounded by the Wimbledon security members being escorted off to the court that she was playing on. I would always follow behind, feeling huge amounts of pride as I watched Elena approach the courts.
As I stood just gazing over the courts I heard the security officer call my name, so I turned and slowly started to walk back. As I did this, I caught sight of court No.1 – it had massive cranes hovering over it, and it reminded me that the £70 million project to install an impressive roof is well under way.
This is a massive investment by The All England Club but once completed it will mean that Wimbledon will boast two world class grass courts under cover – which will go a long way to combat the rain suspends play scenario!
It was fantastic to see my old friend Anne and to have a very civilised cup of tea and biscuits in the members lounge, which incidentally is absolutely immaculate, and everything you would expect.
The room we were in was not very big, but beautifully furnished, with a number of people milling around who I knew. Philip Brook, the Wimbledon chairman was there, he’s the representative you will always see in the box, sitting with royalty, celebrities and the VIP folks on centre court.
I also saw Mark Petchey, an ex-British tennis player who now commentates on the ATP and WTA world tennis tour. Mark also coached Andy Murray during his early years into the world’s top 50.
It was great to see Andy’s team members there as well, and his long time strength and conditioning coach, Matt Little, who I know very well. He’s a very talented professional and has given Andy his devotion and support over the years.
It was a truly privileged experience, and one that was capped off with an incredible ending.
I was invited to exit down the stairs that all the finalists at Wimbledon take during their long walk to the amazing Centre Court where they display their skills to the hundreds of millions watching around the world.
As I took each step, I thought about the great names that have done exactly the same – Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafa Nadal, Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, Martina Navratilova and, of course, our very own Andy Murray, twice Wimbledon champion.
As I took my last step, I found myself in front of the glorious trophy cabinet that houses the famous Wimbledon trophies.
I took my time just simply soaking in this wonderful opportunity and my mind wandered off to the only place that it could – memories of my wife and our time together at Wimbledon.
A great way to complete what was a wonderful visit.