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Wimbledon with Pat Cash

Thursday, June 19, 2008
The mention of Wimbledon conjures up strawberries and cream, summer rain and finely tuned tennis players fighting it out for the most cherished tennis trophy of all.

It all begins again next week, and lovers of the game will forego sleep and focus on London to see who progresses to the next round and who's been bundled out. While there are far fewer Australians among the top seeds these days, the sport, particularly the Wimbledon Championship at the All England Club, is keenly followed.

Wimbledon, the oldest major tennis championship and arguably the most prestigious, has gentlemen's and ladies' singles and doubles, mixed doubles, youth tournaments and special invitation tournaments for over 35s and 45s, and wheelchair doubles. Singles winners will each receive $1.6 million prize money and a trophy presented by HRH the Duke of Kent, president of the All England Club and his wife, the Duchess of Kent.

The Duke of Kent has opened the new Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum to the public. The state-of-the-art museum features exhibits and artefacts never seen before.

Getaway was most fortunate to have a good look at the museum with Pat Cash. He won the coveted title in 1987, defeating world No 1, Ivan Lendl, 7-6, 6-2, 7-5. Anyone who saw that game will remember Pat leaping the courtside fence to embrace his family. That act challenged the club's conservative tradition, at the same time starting a new tradition.

With a reputation of being a hard-fighting serve-and-volleyer and for wearing his trademark black-and-white checked headband, Pat Cash was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2003, the youngest ever inductee. The elite group of 25 is celebrated for its contribution to Australian tennis. These days he lives in London and commentates for the BBC. He lives close to the courts and you can't keep him away from the club and his love of the game.

Back to Wimbledon. Tours take around an hour and are led by professional guides. We were fortunate to take a look around with Pat Cash, a real champion of the grass courts. The tour includes behind-the-scenes access to No 1 Court, the picnic terraces of the Aorangi Terrace, the players' gymnasium, Japanese Zen garden and press interview room. When available, you can visit Centre Court.

The museum combines state-of-the-art interactive touch screens with an unparalleled collection of traditional and contemporary tennis memorabilia in order to explore the story of the game and the Wimbledon Championships, from past to present. The new museum appeals to tennis, sports and entertainment fans of all ages from around the world.

Fashion at Wimbledon has always been a talking point. Former tennis player Teddy Tinling designed conservative court wear as expected by Wimbledon. He once ruffled the feathers of those who oversee the rules by designing an outfit for American Gertrude Moran. She wore a short dress with frilly, lace-trimmed panties peeping below the hem. Shock waves travelled the world, and "Gorgeous Gussie" spawned a whole new line in women's underwear.

The fashions of Wimbledon continue to be a point of attention and significance and the museum houses an extensive collection of Wimbledon attire. Everything from outfits worn in the 1880s to Rafael Nadal's dri-fit "pirate" trousers are on display.

Here's how you can attend Wimbledon.

Full members have the right to purchase tickets — temporary members do not.

The general public has three ways of attending:

1. Turn up and set up your own camp outside the courts on the picnic terraces and watch the tennis on the big screens.

2. Ground passes are available every day to fill the centre courts and are sold only on the day of play. People queue overnight, and the first 1000 are the ones who get the tickets.

3. The main proportion of Centre and No 1 Court tickets are made available through the AELTC Public Ballot, which includes a unique ballot for wheelchair users. Applications open in August each year. Tickets are also available through the Lawn Tennis Association.

The public ballot has always been substantially oversubscribed. Entry into the ballot does not automatically entitle applicants to tickets for Wimbledon, but a place in the draw for tickets.

Successful applicants are selected at random by computer. It is not possible to request tickets for specific days or courts, as the day and court offered are also chosen randomly by a computerised selection process.

To enter the draw you must first obtain an application form, available from August 1 the preceding year. Requests postmarked after December 15 will not be processed.

Please send a self-addressed envelope to:

AELTC
PO Box 98
London SW19 5AE
United Kingdom

Overseas applicants are asked to enclose an international reply coupon where possible.

Location

Wimbledon in London.

Cost

The 2008 Wimbledon Championships will run from June 23 to July 6. You can see live coverage on Channel 9.

Emirates has flights to London Gatwick.

Fares from:

  • Perth $2595
  • Melbourne $2619
  • Sydney $2637
  • Brisbane $2638
  • Adelaide $3222
  • Darwin $3929
Valid for sale and travel until April 30, 2010.

Prices correct at June 6, 2008.

For further information

Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club
Church Road
Wimbledon
London SW19 5AE
Ph: +44 20 8946 6131
Fax: +44 20 8944 2257

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
www.emirates.com

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