Temples of Sports - Wembley & Wimbledon Stadiums (London & Greater London - England)

England is known for its sports and I got to get inside the dressing rooms of 2 important stadiums of London, one, of tennis and another, of football which is UK's largest one - Wimbledon & Wembley!!!
When Narendra Modi, Honbl' Prime Minister of India, came to England, he spoke at the Wembley Stadium. I was definitely wondering why he chose Wembley when there are more popular stadiums like Wimbledon or Lords. Only now did I come to know it is THE biggest stadium in the whole of UK and the 2nd biggest in the whole of Europe with a seating capacity of 90000! Makes sense! Its the national stadium of England and the official FA Cup stadium. It has quite a few records to hold apart from that. It is the biggest covered stadium in the world and by covered, it doesn't mean indoor, but means that all the seats are covered when the roof is closed (except for the play ground)!!! And it has the maximum number of toilets - 2618 to be precise!!!

The most important feature of Wembley Stadium is ofcourse its arch. Remember my posts on London Eye and Up at The O2? Wembley Arch was visible from both the places (from here too London Eye, Cheese Grater, Shard etc were visible). Its 133m tall and 315m long. Guess what? It is not a decorative element, but serves a major function. When the stadium's roof are closed, its this arch that actually holds it up!!! The roof is a sliding roof that stands 52m above pitch. On several days I've seen this arch light up various colors. When Modi came, this was in Indian Tricolor; during Brussels blasts, it was in Belgian Tricolor; during Gay Pride it was in spectrum. The entire arch has 38 circular panels on it and each panel has 6 led lighting on it which makes this a visual delight! 
The stadium tours are an impressive guided tours and our guide was Mr.Richard who did one hell of a tour us. At one point inside the stadium we shouted and heard of sound being resonated for quite a few moments! The glass windows are at a 5deg angle that makes sound bouncing much more effective. 
The original stadium or the Old Wembley Stadium stood once in this same premises. It was called the Empire Stadium. It hosted the 1st ever FA Cup finals in Apr 28, 1923. It had also hosted 1948 Olympics, Euro 96, 1966 Fifa World Cup and many boxing, rugby championships too. The architectural beauty then was the Twin Towers that stood majestically here! 
It was so awesome that Pele called this the 'Cathedral of Football' in the year 2000 when it was closed and on the very premises the present stadium was opened in 2007. In this new building 9 of the 2012 Olympics happened. The main 3 non Englishmen who scored major goals here incl Messi, Ozil and ........ The top music performers here incl MJ, Madonna, Rolling Stones etc and in recent years Cold Play, Rihanna etc. 

The grass on this ground is a mix of natural and artificial grass (97:3). At 105*68 its one of the largest pitches in England. The players dressing rooms and tunnels are definitely very intriguing esp with the jersey's of Beckham, Messi, Ronaldo etc and the bathtubs & jacuzzi's of the players! And the best part of the tour was as we walked out of the tunnels, into the stadium like the players, artificial crowd cheering sound was played to create a much enthralling experience!!!
My next stop was the Wimbledon stadium. When I think of Wimbledon, first thing that comes to my mind is 'white'!!! And the next that comes to my mind is Serena & Venus Williams sisters. They are the most stylish tennis stars ever!!! Their on-court fashion always makes headlines! To curb their colors would be so mean!!! Lolz! Anyways it was done. One of the prime job of the Club trainer during match is to check if everything in bag is predominantly white. Rules were amended to even say underwear should be predominantly white due to Venus & Serena! Only their nails still have multicolors!!! Roger Federer once had to change his yellow soled shoes to white soled ones after the 1st set!!!!
It all started in 1872 when the present rules of lawn tennis were worked out. This evolved from the age old game of croquet. The original pony roller that helped in keeping the grass proper can be still seen here. 
The stadium as we know today, was opened in 1922 by King George II. However till 2013 when Andy Murray won, there were no champions from UK. There are 18 courts presently. The central court has a capacity of 15000 and has a roof as well. Court 1 is closed right now to add a roof. Court 2 has a capacity of 3000 and Court 3 has a capacity of 2000. 
Ages ago, a portion outside Court 1 was a rugby court. When land was dug up for Court 1, 800 lorry load of earth was thrown into this rugby court which in course of time became a picnic area where the match was screened live! This was called Aorangi Hill which means 'cloud in sky' in the native Maori language. Today its called the Henman hill named after Tim Henman, the English Tennis player who never won any grand-slam but reached the semi finals of 6!!! Today this picnic area looks just spectacular with a small man-made waterfalls & river and filled all over with gorgeous flowering plants!!! 
The longest match ever that happened here was in 2010 in Court 18 which was a 11 hrs match and the last set (70-68) alone was 8 hrs. There's actually at plaque here denoting it!
The grass is the most important factor here. The quality is maintained absolutely the same throughout the 18 courts. If seeds are sown it takes 18 months for proper growth, so the original grass is maintained. Its let to grow to 15mm in winters to protect the roots and then trimmed off. The pattern in which the grass has withered in all the courts gives an idea of the playing technique. In the era of Pete Sampras it was more of Serve & Volley where the grass withering had happened as diagonal lines. Today its more of Passing shots leading to a horizontal line withering along the base line. 

The Museum explained the evolution of tennis over ages in all aspects - racket, ball, technology, fashion and even the trophy!!! There are even the actual autographed clothing worn by the players.
Ofcourse there are boards that name all the winners of all finals since inception. I was incredibly delighted to see the names of Leander Paes & R.Krishnan and incredibly sad that there weren't more names from India!!!

To Get Here:
Nearest tube station: Wembley Park or Wembley Central and Southfields respectively
Entry Ticket: £19 & £24 respectively (free with London Pass)
Can be bought online from their website - Wembley Tours, Wimbledon Stadium Tour.

P.S: I was invited by Wembley & Wimbledon Stadiums to attend their guided tours for review purposehowever the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Dedicated to Venkat

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

14 comments:

  1. Such a lovely place to know more about sports... It's great for a sporty person and a traveller as well.. So nice!~

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  2. I grew up right by Wembley & never knew any of these amazing facts. I also never knew the sheer size difference for spectators at the different Wimbledon courts. Such an interesting fact filled post

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  3. I grew up right by Wembley & never knew any of these amazing facts. I also never knew the sheer size difference for spectators at the different Wimbledon courts. Such an interesting fact filled post

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  4. I use to follow tennis and would love to see a match at Wimbledon. This would definitely be a part of my bucket list.

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  5. Now this is more like it. I would love to go visit both these iconic sports places if ever I go to London. To watch a Wimbledon tournament live is a dream for me.

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  6. It's such an amazing stadium and it's definitely the perfect choice for his speech. I think it's nice to be able to tour this especially if it's your first time in London. Wimbledon is such a wonderful place as well!

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  7. It's evident these stadium are epic, way beyond human comparison. I'd love to experience real-time sporting activities in any of these stadia.

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  8. What a lot of really interesting information. I hadn't realised that Wembley stadium was so large not being a footie fan. I don't visit London often but maybe I need to go to Wembley next time. Thanks for this.

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  9. The Wimbledon stadium seems so large. Can anyone just come in or you have to call prior visiting for a reservation? Is there an entrance fee?

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  10. Heard so much about both these places. Glad to read it here about them.

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  11. A lovely and amazing place to explore especially the whole day! Wimbledon stadium is so famous ever since and I'm really proud that mankind built it for sports.

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  12. Wow thanks for showing us all these places. I would like to visit wimbledon stadium if i can.

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  13. I'm not a fan of sports or stadium. so this is definitely something I will not go... haha, no offense, but just not a fan! :p

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  14. I am not sure if Philippines has a stadium but if there is, sure that these stadiums of Wembley and Wimbledon are superb and that I wish we could improve ours.

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