June 30, 2021
Serena Williams and Carla Suarez Navarro made Wimbledon’s second day one of the most poignant in the rich history of Centre Court.
The tears and the standing ovations will never be forgotten.
We have been suggesting for some time that this would be the most emotional Wimbledon ever.
But few could have predicted the tragic power of Serena’s downfall or the depth of love shown to Carla.
Sandwiched between these unique moments was another classic contest involving a certain superstar called Roger Federer.
And all this extraordinary drama came after the smoothest possible entry into the All England Club.
It has never been easier to get into Wimbledon if you are a debenture ticket holder.
Sure, you need to bring a face mask, photographic ID, your “covid passport” and ticket on your phone. But that’s all simple enough to get together.
And your correspondent was welcomed into the grounds in an instant once his debenture ticket bar code had been read at the gate.
There was no queue. There was no fuss. It’s all super-efficient and helpful.
Meanwhile the rest of the general public were queuing all the way up the hill towards Wimbledon village.
The advantage of buying a ticket with WDH has never been more apparent.
It was the same when you entered the exclusive debentures areas within the All England Club.
A quick show of your ticket on your phone and you have access to some of Wimbledon’s most beautiful restaurants and bars.
As usual the Rooftop Bar afforded the most stunning views right across the city of London and it wasn’t even crowded.
The party spirit was still very much in evidence everywhere you looked, though..
If you thought Wimbledon would feel diminished this year, think again. The vibrant joy is as obvious as always. It’s still glamorous. It’s still unique.
Buy with WDH and you will get the very best of everything.
This correspondent’s seat on Centre Court was a stone’s throw from the Royal Box but also offered a glimpse of the players before and after the rest of the arena could see them.
The value of this WDH seat was increasingly obvious as events unfolded.
First we saw Ashleigh Barty and Carla Suarez Navarro, who has bravely battled back from cancer.
The Centre Court crowd knew her story and lifted Carla to extraordinary heights as she forced the world number one to a third set. Their farewell ovation for the Spaniard was outstanding.
From our seats we were first to spot Roger Federer appear too, as he came out behind his opponent for the day, Adrian Mannarino.
It was so emotional to hear Centre Court welcome back their favourite hero.
But at one stage Federer looked as though he might be going out. The Frenchman matched him for exquisite grass-court tennis and the rallies had their audience purring with pleasure.
Roger had just about gained the upper hand before Mannarino slipped and injured himself.
It was typically generous of Federer to say that his opponent was the better player, before Mannarino had to retire at the start of the fifth.
In truth we think the Swiss master had already built a winning platform with Federesque magic to roll back the years.
Exit one legend, enter another.
And what an entrance Serena made, in her flowing white and regal trail.
She certainly personified the Centre Court drama as an incomparable example of tennis royalty.
But soon the stage was set for a tearful tragedy, as Serena lost her footing and winced with discomfort.
From that moment, there could be no happy ending for the multiple champion. Was the course of tennis history altered in those seconds?
Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus was giving as good as she got. But surely Serena would have won through had her ankle not failed her?
Bravely she battled on as she fought back the tears.
The crowd cheered her and recognised her courage as she struggled against the inevitable.
Then came the most poignant moment of the entire day.
Serena screamed in pain. A split-second of silence followed and then gasps from the crowd.
Williams knew she couldn’t continue. Perhaps for the very last time, she waved at the Centre Court spectators as she left the stage.
But from our seats we could see behind the screen too. So we watched Serena hobble forlornly as she was helped through a door to the dressing room.
A very intimate and lasting image to end the day.
For we may have been the very last spectators to see Serena disappear from Centre Court at the end of a long and illustrious career.
It’s another classic example of being able to say: ‘I was there.’
Here at WDH we have constantly emphasised over recent months that Wimbledon 2021 could be your last chance to see Serena, Federer and Murray.
We still believe this to be the case, despite promising early signs from our all-time-favourite men.
We advise you to book your seats to see Federer and Murray before it’s too late.
The opportunity to witness Serena’s greatness has already gone.
But what a day it was at Wimbledon once more! And what will the rest of the fortnight bring?
We have just witnessed two of the most emotional days the Championships have ever seen.
No one wants to miss the rest of Wimbledon 2021.
Will you be there?