Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
It felt weird. Arriving on my bike again to the sound of my own announcements at the gate.
It’s uplifting to see familiar faces. Tom, Pierre and Steve from the forecast centre and everyone from the Referee’s Office and all the other parts of the finely-tuned machinery that keeps The Championships oiled and running smoothly.
One of the familiar faces is russet-coloured, hirsute and panting. It belongs to a sniffer dog whose handler I interviewed last year.
The spaniel danced around me and gave the all-clear.
Up here in ‘mission control’ we have a bird’s-eye view of Court 14 and managed to steal glimpses of the four-set thriller from Dustin Brown and Joao Sousa. Don’t take it from me; that’s Tom the forecaster’s appreciative observation. A cross-court diving return by Brown is already being touted as a possible point of the Championships. Brown eventually saw off Sousa with an ace.
And I spotted Andy Murray on the Referee’s Bridge just ahead of his win over 20-year-old Alexander Bublik in straight sets.
From tennis royalty to our new patron, the Duchess of Cambridge. The Duchess has been here today clearly enjoying the atmosphere. Her Royal Highness took over from the Queen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club just this year.
There have been some unexpected visitors, too. The first was a duck complete with nest of eggs, freeloading in the hospitality boxes of Centre Court. Mother duck and eggs were relocated to a safer, if less illustrious, nook by the same avian experts who look after Rufus.
If you don’t know - and I didn’t - Rufus is the hawk whose job it is to keep the pigeons off the courts.
And finally, we also had a bat fly overhead, identified as a common or soprano pipistrelle by a member of staff who, handily, worked as a manager for the Zoological Society of London in a previous life. A rare sight in the daytime, but less surprising in view of us being part of the large eco-system of Wimbledon Park just opposite.
Talking of wildlife, we also have a cuckoo in the nest - me. The only person in the entire Grounds who takes succour from the spits and spots and passing showers because it gives me a chance to bed in a bit. I’ve already made my first rain announcement.
But any such succour has been short-lived… as we settle down for uninterrupted play on this luminous first July evening at Wimbledon.
Which means I can get some supper.