I’ve never written a blog post on speed, and don’t intend to, but you’ll forgive me if I ramble a bit. I’m just so freaking excited, maybe as excited as I’ve ever been about a trip.
I’m headed to London tonight, to fulfill a lifelong dream.
We all carry around, mentally in our heads or on paper, a “things to do before we die” list. Once that Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson movie “The Bucket List” came out, people started calling it that.
I’ve got one of those, and because I’m a sports fanatic, some of the things on my list are sports venue-related.
I’ve crossed off quite a few: I went to Wrigley Field, I went to Dyersville, Iowa to see the Field of Dreams, covered NCAA Tournament games, and seen a few ballgames at Fenway Park.
But the No.1 sports item on my list has always, always been going to Wimbledon to watch “The Championships.” Ever since I first saw it on TV in 1981, when I was 6 and saw McEnroe and Borg slug it out, I’ve been in love with the place.
The beauty of the courts, the grass, the surroundings, the history involved with the most famous tennis tournament in the world… it’s been intoxicating to me.
I didn’t know if I’d ever get there, just to walk around and take in the place, see if I could feel it in my bones. It is tennis heaven, it’s a cathedral, it is magical.
In March, 2008, my ex-wife and I spent a week in London on vacation. I did, of course, go to the All England Club for a tour. I bought some souvenirs, I tried to pilfer a blade of grass from the grounds (I was politely told not to), but it wasn’t quite as great as I hoped. Center Court and Court 1 were closed to us because of construction, and of course there was no tennis being played there.
It was a taste of Wimbledon, and I was happy I got to go, but it wasn’t quite the same as being there for the main event.
Eight years later, I’m going. Really, truly going.
My wife has a work conference in London every other year in late June, so I’m flying over to meet her this weekend, and God bless her indulgent soul, we splurged for a travel package of two tickets to the first two days of Wimbledon. Monday we’ve got Court 1 tickets, and Tuesday we’ll be in heaven, sitting at Center Court with the Queen and Prince William and whoever else we get to see.
Our little guy is staying with the grandparents and yeah it’ll be hard not seeing him for five straight days, the longest I’ve ever been away, but you only live once and he’ll understand (when he’s older and I’ve made him into a fellow tennis nut, of course!)
In my head for the past week I’ve kept saying “I’m going to Wimbledon! I’m going to Wimbledon!” Trips never seem real to me until I’m actually on the airplane, but this time, I think until I walk through the gates and smell the grass, it still won’t be real.
Wimbledon. Me. Hopefully Roger Federer. So damn excited.
If you hear a news report on Tuesday about a crazy American man who chained himself to the gates of the All England Club and refused to leave, well, you’ll know it’s me.
**Finally today, this made me laugh. D’Angelo Russell had a really rough rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, low-lighted by a scandal in which he secretly recorded, with his cell phone, teammate Nick Young talking about two-timing his girlfriend.
The video became public, and for a few days sports folks lost their mind decrying Russell for “breaking the code of the locker room” and other ridiculous things like that. Was it stupid what Russell did? Sure. Was it the crime of the century for a 19-year-old? No.
Anyway, Russell and some other NBA players are in a new Foot Locker ad, and it’s hilarious to see Russell poke fun at the whole situation. Enjoy.