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Wimbledon is for fifty weeks a year a typical suburb in South-West London, but for two weeks a year there's a buzz of activity when the Championships come into town. Although the district's inhabitants either love or loathe the influx of tourists and tennis fans, it's a great place to be.
Wimbledon Tennis is located along Wimbledon Park Road and Church Road. The complex itself is large, comprising of 19 courts, ranging from the huge and famous Centre and Number One Courts to the more basic outer courts.
Getting to the Championships
Getting to the championships is easy. The nearest tube is Southfields, and not Wimbledon. The stadium is a brisk 15 minute walk from Southfields tube station, about half an a hour from Wimbledon. However, during the championships, several buses run the route from Wimbledon town centre to the Championships. The journey costs £2 single, £2.50 return, and Travelcards and Oystercards are NOT valid. These are probably best for first-time visitors although the walk is pleasant and takes you through some of the better parts of suburban London. London Buses also operate route 493, running about every 15 minutes from Tooting to Richmond, via Wimbledon, Southfields and Roehampton. The bus gets packed during the Championships and becomes unreliable at busy times, but the trip is free if you have a Travelcard or Oyster Card, and cheaper than the official buses. The route is diverted during the Championships, but is the closest to the complex.
Wimbledon town centre, focussed around the aptly named Centre Court shopping centre goes crazy during the championships, with free giveaways, tourist information and general hustle-and-bustle. It's worth a look-around for shopping, mostly chain stores, but some interesting individual shops. There are also a variety of good restaurants all offering great deals to capture this huge influx of trade. The deals are much better value than offered at the Championship venue itself. Two favourite restaurants are Reds, a kind of diner with great steaks, burgers etc and 40 The Hill a modern british restaurant with a wimbledon menu. There are others like all the chains such as Starbucks, Nandos and good pizza at Pizza Express. All will offer great deals - so look out for them!, Wimbledon Village (at the top of the Hill) has one or two nice restaurants (the best is Cannizaro House) but seems to have become overwhelmed by chains - still worth a visit.
At the Championships
While at the championships, soak up the atmosphere on Henman Hill, with its big BBC screens and waving Union Flags, or savour the taste of fresh strawberries and cream, accompanied by a bottle of champagne. All are available onsite, at suitably upmarket prices, but are the only way of truly experiencing Wimbledon.
But most importantly of all, enjoy the tennis!
When the Championships aren't on
Following recent massive investment, there is now a state-of-the-art museum at Wimbledon Tennis. The museum contains all sorts of tennis information about the history of the Championships and of how it's changed and is well worth a visit.