Pimms on Henman Hill

Anyone for tennis? Wimbledon 2021

Or #Newballsplease

Standing at the urinals flanked by an elderly gentleman and a man who may have been in his early-20s I thought to myself ‘This is what the future feels like’.

I was in an alternate universe where people only wore masks when queuing because that’s what they are used to. A place where there was no need to socially distance while having a toilet break. A place where 50% capacity did not mean every other seat was unoccupied.

Wimbledon queue
The weather was typically British for people in the queue during the first day of Wimbledon
First two matches at No 1 Court
There was a lot of good tennis on No. 1 Court during the first day of Wimbledon
First day's play at Wimbledon at No. 1 Court
The Heather Watson match was an epic way to finish the first day on No. 1 Court

The alternate universe was the first day of the Wimbledon tennis tournament and it was my first taste of how a Covid-passport might work.

To get in as well as having purchased my ticket online I had to prove that to the best of my knowledge I didn’t have Covid-19.

For older people this proof is as simple as just showing you have had two jabs but for me and other single jabbers proof of a negative lateral flow test within the past 48 hours is required.

Tests are available for people to do at home but I wasn’t sure how this would count as official proof so travelled to a test centre in Croydon so a man could watch as I put a swab up my nose.

Thankfully I was negative and so got a sexy wristband to wear during the day.

Maybe this level of testing could be a solution for all the people working in care homes who don’t want to have the vaccine. If they are tested every day and they don’t have the vaccine then surely they should be allowed to work.

Covid safe wristband
Is this the future of vaccine passports? It is very fetching
Aryna Sabalenka beat Monica Niculescu in a very convincing fashion
Aryna Sabalenka beat Monica Niculescu in a very convincing fashion
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe
And the world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas was stunned by the unseeded American Frances Tiafoe

And I appreciate all the arguments about vaccine passports being against our civil liberties, and in that vein I am going to request the Govt doesn’t sell on my NHS data. But if I minded being tracked I wouldn’t update my Facebook status most days.

Anyhoo, less about politics and more about tennis.

Over the nine hours or so of tennis I saw, on Court No. 1 including a Heather Watson thriller, there was an overwhelming sense of middle class camaraderie.

We applauded in all the right places and cheered at the amazing shots and the power of the players. The winners did post-match interviews and made sure they all told us how happy they were to be back in SW19.

And strangers sat next to strangers and had not enough of a chat to become firm friends for ever but enough of a chat to know a bit more about each other, and enough to know just how pleased everyone was to back watching world class players.

And also strangers not judging strangers as much as they would have done pre-pandemic.

Pimms on Henman Hill
Anyone for Pimms on Henman Hill?
Iga Swiatek and Hsieh Su-wei
A slice of the action as Iga Swiatek took on Hsieh Su-wei
British hopeful Heather Watson
British hopeful Heather Watson put up a good fight against Kristie Ahn in the Thriller from SW19

One thing I was made aware of before queuing (and failing to get in) for Wimbledon during the first week of 2017 is the rule that each adult is allowed to take in a bottle of wine.

I’m not sure if everyone is aware of the rule but let me tell you a £3.99 bottle of wine from the Tesco near Wimbledon Station does taste a lot nicer when watching women hit balls at 120mph than it does when surrounded by nothing at home in a pit of despair.

As one of the sporting test events before the Government decides if things can go back to a vague idea of normal on July 19th, or if we are all doomed to five more years of lockdown, it worked a treat.

I’ll happily take queuing up for drinks at a bar, sitting next to strangers at a sporting event, and not having to leave space in the public restroom – but I’d quite like to keep the pandemic trend of not being crushed together on public transport and spending the journey squished against the foul sweaty armpits of someone who is unclear what personal hygiene and personal space are.

Enjoy yourselves if you have managed to get tickets to any matches during the second week of Wimbledon.

Stay safe for another week!