Lots of things make Wimbledon special. The strawberries and cream, Henman Hill or Murray Mount (delete depending how old you are), the fact that it’s in London, we could go on. But for the players, the big distinction besides the prestige is that the courts are grass. Most of us only play tennis on hard courts, they’re cheap to build and maintain and they’re the most widely available to rank amateurs like me and, probably, you. Fewer of us have the opportunity to regularly play on grass courts, a type of tennis that’s a lot faster, less predictable and, let’s face it, more glamorous than usual tennis.
So if you want to emulate your Wimbledon heroes, and it doesn’t involve throwing your racket and screaming ‘you cannot be serious’, then here’s the London’s lawn tennis clubs to try…
Open to all, no membership required
Golders Hill Park features beautiful landscaped gardens, a Mediterranean water garden, café and bandstand and, more importantly, council-run lawn tennis courts that are available to the public. Operated by The City of London, the courts are grass and well maintained. As a Brucie-bonus, the park has its own emus…
Where: Golders Hill, North End Way, Golders Green, NW3 7HD
Given the local houses cost upwards of £10m a pop, £555 is about 12 hour’s mortgage payment in Holland Park (I checked), and it’s also the price of joining Holland Park Lawn Tennis Club – a snip. Members in this smart West London club have access to three grass courts (plus another five all-weather).
Where: 1 Addison Road, Holland Park, W14 8DU
Want to grab a quick game of tennis? Great! Meet me outside the front gate to the Hurlingham Club in about 15 years time… Fulham’s Hurlingham Club is one of the smartest bastions of upper-middle Londoners, and when they’re not discussing school fees or the shocking prospect of a Corbyn government members can be found in their tennis whites on the grass courts. However, as well as a £1,200 annual membership cost (at the time of writing it was clear none of this was being spent on the website), there’s a colossal waiting list of over 10 years.
Where: Ranelagh Gardens, Fulham, SW6 3PR
Members at this West London tennis club have use not only of six grass courts, but also a mix of clay and all-weather courts. Assuming you can overcome the slight downside that it’s in Ealing, full membership costs a relatively reasonable £516 and an even reasonabler rate if you’re under 30, over 65 or want to play off-peak.
Where: Daniel Road (off Creffield Road), Ealing, W5 3RY
Another waity matter, you’ve got to sit on a list for eight years to get on the off-peak membership list at Queen’s Club, but once you’re in then you share the rarified grass courts not only with Wimbledon champions to-be, but with the likes of David Cameron and Boris Johnson. So at least there’s an upside to the eight year waiting list (currently suspended until 2020 anyway!)
Where: Palliser Road, Fulham, W14 9EQ
A little more down-to-earth is South London’s Dulwich Lawn Tennis Club, which operates four grass courts, as well as seven all-weather jobbies, and at £240 membership is far cheaper than other options. And probably significantly less snooty.
Where: Giant Arches Road, Burbage Road, Dulwich, SE24 9HP