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Wimbledon Tennis 2013

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Strawberries, cream, balls and rackets
If you've never been to Wimbledon – and I'm talking about the annual tennis tournament here, not the village – it's definitely worth a visit at least once in your life.

Sure, you can watch it on TV, but by doing so you'll be missing out on the amazing atmosphere of the place – an atmosphere that doesn't just stay locked inside the show courts, but one that can be experienced throughout the grounds of what is the most famous tennis competition in the world, and one of the top players always name as the tournament they'd most love to win.

There are various ways to get tickets for Wimbledon. For the show courts, you can register for the public ballot, though you have to put your name down well ahead of the event, and it is, of course, always over subscribed.

Alternatively, you can arrive the night before and queue on the pavement outside the grounds together with thousands of other tennis fans. The famous Wimbledon queue is an experience in itself, and with its party atmosphere, could be about the most fun you'll ever have while waiting in line. More information about the queue can be found here.

If you're far enough forward in the queue, you'll have a chance of getting your hands on a ticket for Centre Court or Number 1 Court. However, if you don't fancy sleeping on the street overnight, arrive in good time the next morning and buy a ticket for the grounds – you'll still have a great day exploring the 16 or so outside courts… weather permitting, of course.

Also, a few hundred Centre Court and Number 3 Court tickets are sold online on the day before play via Ticketmaster. Details will be sent to those people who've registered for regular Wimbledon e-mail newsletters.

Apart from enjoying the matches, meet some of the top players at the Aorangi Pavilion, explore the Wimbledon Tennis Museum (near Gate 3), and grab some food at the Baseline Diner or the more upmarket Wingfield Restaurant.

Also, be sure to take a moment to check out the practice courts at the north end of the grounds – if you're lucky, you might see a top player, often in a much more relaxed frame of mind, knocking a ball about with a friend or coach.

If you don't have a ticket for the show courts, but want to see some of the action, make your way to Aorangi Park (aka Henman Hill, or, more recently, Murray Mound) on the west side of Number 1 Court, where a huge video screen shows the biggest games of the day live. It's a great spot to kick back and relax too, with a party atmosphere guaranteed – especially if the featured game starts to really heat up.

Towards the end of the day, if you fancy taking a look inside the show courts, visit the Ticket Resale Shop, also in Aorangi Park. You might be able to catch an early evening doubles match, some of which can be far more entertaining than the daytime matches with the star names. Resale tickets are a lot cheaper than usual show court ticket prices, too.

Best advice I can give? Check the weather forecast ahead of your visit. Sure, they have a roof at Wimbledon now, but unfortunately it only covers Centre Court.

[Top and bottom images: Wimbledon Tennis; Middle image: Carine06]
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Why? It's a lot more than just a game of tennis.
When: 24th June to 7th July, 2013.
Phone: 020 8944 1066
Where: The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Church Road, London SW19 5AE
Cost: Various prices, see website for details.
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