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The Alternative Wimbledon A to Z

Hawk Eye is tested ahead of the first round.
by Ben Chatfield
Saturday 22 June 2013

You won’t find a ‘B is for Borg’ or an ‘S is for strawberries’ in here as we delve deeper in to the unknown Wimbledon. Local writer, and Wimbledon native, Ben Chatfield, guides us through an offbeat A-Z.

  • A is for Aorangi. The Aorangi Terrace houses ‘Henman Hill’ on the way out towards the practice courts. It is named after ‘Aoraki’, the Maori word for the highest mountain in New Zealand, and the area was, until 1981, the home of the London New Zealand rugby club.  
  • B is for Breakfast (of Champions). Wimbledon village has a plethora of venues where you can fill up for an early morning start. Maison St Cassien, on the roundabout closest to the tennis, is a firm favourite.
  • C is for Cannizaro. Cannizaro House is a beautiful old mansion situated to the south west of the AELTC, on the edge of Wimbledon Common. It is named after an area in eastern Sicily and has lovely grounds to explore.
  • D is for Deuce. Tennis scoring dates from medieval French and clock faces – deuce originates from the French word ‘deux’, meaning you need two points to win the game.
  • E is for Eighteen Seventy Seven, which is when Wimbledon started. The Gentlemen's Singles was the only event that took place that year. There were 22 competitors, 200 attended and the title was won by Spencer Gore.
  • F is for Food. Once inside the gates there's a great choice, but The Championships are a 24-hour event with fans joining the Queue at every hour of the day. For the best local pizzas try Rubino, opposite Southfields tube station, and open late during The Championships.
  • G is for Gallic. Chanteroy, opposite Southfields station, is a local gastro-institution that serves only the finest French pastries and produce. Open from 8am until 8pm every single day.
  • H is for Hawk-Eye. The hawk-eyed will have also noticed the ball trajectory tracking system’s use now in hurling and cricket as well as tennis. And remember, players have three challenges per set with an extra one for a tie-break. Frequently mentioned (longingly) during the French Open, where they use the less technical ‘pointing at the mark’ system.
  • I is for Inside Out. A term beloved of commentators when referring to a player running around his forehand or backhand to hit the less obvious shot, and cross court rather than down the line.
  • J is for Joggers. The keen-eyed tennis fan need not wait until courtside to spot the big names in motion as many of them like to jog through the village during the fortnight to feel its unique atmosphere.
  • K is forKick. As in “That serve has kick” when it ends up after one bounce on the green of the 18th hole on the other side of Church Road.
  • L is for Legend. The best of these involves Wimbledon Common’s most rarely-seen inhabitants. The Wombles are a bunch of pointy-nosed, furry creatures who, as the story goes, live in burrows and help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways. Stars of a TV show and a number of hit singles in the 70s and 80s.
  • M is for Mumford & Sons. The globally popular four-piece folk-rock group are half made up of students from Wimbledon’s very own King’s College School, just half a mile from the AELTC.
  • N is for Newspapers. Queuing is one of Wimbledon’s specialist events so be prepared for some organised down time. A visit to Sutherlands newsagents in the village as you join Church Road should keep you well covered for reading material.
  • O is for Open Era. Often used in reference to the year 1968, when tennis became open, in the sense that professionals could compete with amateurs.
  • P is for Plagues. In the 15th century plagues meant that the Wimbledon area was largely wild and uninhabited.
  • Q is for the Queen. Queen Elizabeth II has visited the Championships on two occasions; in 1977 and 2010. On both occasions British players have won – Virginia Wade the women’s title and Andy Murray a second round tie.
  • R is for Rain. At Wimbledon it is almost guaranteed. Only 1931, 1976, 1993 and 1995 have been rain-free since 1922.
  • S is for Sphairistike. This ancient Greek term was Major Wingfield’s first name for the game he created in the 19th century. As no-one could actually say it he quickly changed to the other alternative, ‘lawn tennis’.
  • T is for Taxi-Drivers’ Tips. According to our straw poll the best place to get dropped by a taxi when arriving for a day at The Championships is the bottom of Queensmere Road, from the Parkside approach.
  • U is for Umpire. They say that the better they are, the less you notice them. And the AELTC prides itself on having all of the best in the world, from all over the world.
  • V is for Village. Regular visitors will notice a few changes in Wimbledon village this year with a number of new restaurants, cafes and shops giving it an altogether more rejuvenated feel.
  • W is for Wunemannedun or Wimbedounyng. In 950AD records show the first references to the place we have come to love as ‘Wimbledon.’
  • X is for Ex-Champions. Winning the gentlemen’s or ladies’ singles title is a life award, as you become a member of the All England Club, which has only 375 full members.
  • Y is for Young MC. American hip-hop icon who moved to Queens, New York but, and not many people know this, was born right here in Wimbledon.
  • Z is for ZZZZZ. Sleeping under the stars in Wimbledon Park in the Queue is as organised as a giant music festival, so don’t forget your kit. Wellies may be a bit excessive but a fold-away chair and a good sleeping bag are well advised.

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