The Handbook
The Handbook

There are a few ingredients you need for the world’s most famous tennis tournament – Pimm’s, strawberries and cream, Sir Cliff singing in the rain, Kate Middleton turning up in a white high street number that’s set to sell out that very afternoon, oh and the players, of course.

The news that Wimbledon would be cancelled this year was just another Corona blow to summer 2020, but rest assured, there are still a few ways to get in on some tennis action and celebrate the iconic competition that been going for an incredible 143 years.

If you’re more of a fair-weather tennis fan and prefer the the jugs of Pimm’s to Djokovic, the fashion to Federa, now’s the perfect time to pick the best bits and curate a Wimbledon of your own, from picnics in the garden to visits to the pretty suburb sans the crowds and the queues. And for tennis diehards, the BBC will be showing plenty of classic coverage from Wimbledon’s past.

Here’s how to serve up your own celebration over the next two weeks…

Head to Wimbledon

The one summer when SW19 isn’t swarmed with tennis fans is happening right now. You might not be able to watch any actual tennis, but this year is a good opportunity to explore the leafy London suburb in the sunshine without the crowds.

Take a picnic to Murray Mound (or Henman Hill depending on your age and nationality!) or for an entirely non-tennis-related actively check out the stunning Wat Buddhapadipa, which was the first Thai Buddhist temple to be built into the UK and looks like it’s been plucked from Phuket.

To refuel, head to Wimbledon Village for a host of sweet cafes, boutiques, restaurants and cosy pubs, most of which will be reopening this weekend.

Dust off your racket

Dig out your old racket (or rent one) and head to one of London’s free tennis courts to brush up your skills. Most are now open in parks across the capital and with social distancing rules loosening a little, you can choose who you want to play with and get back to a little more of a normal social life and up your exercise at the same time.

Find out where your nearest court is here or check out your local council’s website.

Watch old matches

Not wanting us to go without any Wimbledon action, the BBC are kindly serving up over 50 hours’ worth of SW19 related content.

From 29th June, BBC Sport will be rewinding to some memorable matches including an Andy Murray Greatest Hits weekend and a countdown of best finals.

Sue Barker (well it wouldn’t be a Wimbledon session without her) will present a one-hour show, Wimbledon: The Best of the Championships, on BBC Two each day, Monday to Friday at 8pm, where she will be joined in the studio by Tim Henman and Boris Becker to look back on some of the highlights through the years. Plus tennis legends and former winners such as John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova will be getting involved via video link.

And don’t miss the documentary, One Day, which looks back at 14th July 2019, when the incredible final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer was being played out at the same time as England’s dramatic cricket World Cup triumph. Quite the day for British sports.

Plus plenty of other Wimbledon-related broadcasts, which will drop over the two week slot.

Host a garden party

Any excuse for some socially distanced entertaining and as of this weekend, you can narrow it down to a cosy one metre. Get the bunting up, lay on a spread of British classics, from cucumber sandwiches to strawberries and cream, and invite your fellow tennis fans for an afternoon of fun.

Make the dress code strictly tennis whites and order some of those dreadful cardboard masks of everyone from Serena to Wimbledon fan Kate Middleton. You’ll forget the tennis has been cancelled after the fourth jug of Pimm’s.

Get the Pimm’s out

Pimm’s at the pub is always disappointing so make up your own batch at home to sip in the sunshine or drink as you watch the retro Wimbledon coverage on the BBC. Ever wondered why we drink the summer cup during the famous tennis tournament? No real reason really, other than that it became quite popular at other very British events, such as the Chelsea Flower Show and the Henley Royal Regatta.

A Pimm’s bar then popped up at the 1971 Wimbledon tournament, which now plays host to more than 300,000 glasses of the stuff being served up to guests each year.

A traditional recipe for a jugful comprises ¾ oz of Pimm’s No.1, 5 oz. of lemonade garnished with mint, 1 orange, 3 strawberries and a cucumber. Well, it wouldn’t be Wimbledon without it.

Or, get creative and put your Pimm’s into a crowd-pleasing pud. We love Jamie Oliver’s Pimm’s & Strawberry Cobbler and Pimm’s own gloriously retro trifle.

Watch a tennis film

If your Wimbledon celebrations are looking like a wash out, stay inside and indulge in a movie marathon of tennis action – some good, some so bad they’re good.

There’s Borg vs McEnroe, the 2017 biopic that delves into the famous rivalry between tennis players, Björn Borg and John McEnroe at the 1980 Wimbledon Championship. The film is directed by Janus Metz Pedersen and stars Sverrir Gudnason as Borg and Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe who are both brilliant.

Borg vs McEnroe

Although not set at Wimbledon, Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as women’s world champion Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as ex-men’s champ Bobby Riggs, tells the true story of their infamous 1973 match, and it’s well worth a watch.

The two leads are brilliant and the film shines a spotlight on their match which was billed as ‘The Battle of the Sexes’, which became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. A fascinating portrayal of how sexist the industry was and how much is still left to do for equality in the game.

Then there’s the 2004 rom-com, conspicuously titled, Wimbledon. Starring Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany, they duo fall in love against a backdrop of the famous grounds. Great if you’re into hangover-worthy, easy-watchers, less so if you’re actually into tennis.

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