June 26, 2013
You’re sitting in the greatest tennis arena of them all, Centre Court at Wimbledon. You’re enjoying the cool shade near the Royal Box – where J.K.Rowling is a guest for the day – and you’re watching the best player in the world, Novak Djokovic. Even one of Rowling’s famous Harry Potter books would be hard-pressed to provide a setting as magical as this.
Already the Wimbledon Debenture Holders have been treated to the sorcery of Serena Williams, who seems to produce superhuman power with a nonchalant flick of her sporting wand.
Serena’s opening contest against Mandy Minella of Luxembourg is little more than a warm-up for sterner examinations that will surely come.
But her magnificence offers a welcome taster to the main course – Novak’s extraordinary repertoire.
He never disappoints. There are gasps from the Centre Court crowd as he crushes his German opponent Florian Mayer with a blend of flair and sheer determination, emerging a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 winner.
At one point Mayer makes such a mess of a seemingly simple overhead smash that you wonder whether Djokovic has cast a spell on him. The German hits back briefly during the second set, though, taking five games of his own.
And that means Djokovic has room for improvement – even if he has resumed complete command and dazzled us with more killer passes by the end.
British hope Andy Murray might still feel he has a box of tricks to match anything he has seen from his rivals in the tournament so far. But it’s early days, and the plot is building nicely towards a fierce climax next week. No wonder the scramble for the best seats continues.
Just as JK Rowling would have it, there are sure to be more than a few twists to the plot as the conflicts intensify.
And when they can tear themselves away from the ever-changing story, Debenture Holders on Centre Court can contemplate the unfolding drama at a variety of attractive restaurant and bars.. There’s The Gallery – a long, elegant bar on the fourth floor, while just downstairs the Courtside restaurant brings you even closer to the tennis action.
If you prefer to people-watch and don’t mind serving yourself, try The Terrace restaurant on the third floor.
But my favourite venue of them all is the Roof Top bar right up on the fifth floor. There are giddy views down to Court 17, or right across the capital to The Shard and The London Eye. It’s just the place to escape the heaving crowds for a while, enjoy an intimate conversation or just reflect upon the spell-binding entertainment all around you.
You can sip a Pimms and enjoy a tasty range of “small plate” food, from salmon mousse to shredded duck.
Then, when you’re ready, you return suitably refreshed to the amazing action and constant hustle and bustle below.
Let’s face it, if you love tennis, you’ll find more magic at Wimbledon than Harry Potter ever discovered at Hogwarts.
And there are moments when the determination of Novak Djokovic makes you wonder whether anyone can beat him in a punishing gladiatorial battle here this year.
Even Harry Potter himself might struggle – though celebrity spectator JK Rowling would probably disagree!