With 87 matches on the order of play, a relatively dry weather forecast and household names on the outer courts, the £27 ground pass was a contender for this year’s best value ticket in sport.
Bearing that in mind, and after a Tuesday with just eight matches completed, this reporter came up with the daft idea to try to take in some action on each of the All England Club’s 18 courts in one day.
It promised to be a tough task to do but Mailsport’s Lewis Steele is up for the challenge.
So with an order of play folded into the back pocket, a rain jacket and a squirt of factor 30 on the face, the mission begins.
Up bright and early, here is where we start.
Mailsport’s Lewis Steele took on an impossible mission during day three at Wimbledon
There was a meet-and-greet with Andy Murray after watching him practise at Aorangi Park
The Brit (centre) met with NHS workers a day after winning in the first round at Wimbledon
Arrive on site for an interview on Centre Court and once that’s done it’s time to fuel up. There is a special breakfast hosted by the All England Club for media and NHS staff from St George’s hospital to mark the NHS’s 75th anniversary. Many employees were invited to Wimbledon for the day. Five get a special meet-and-greet with Andy Murray after watching him practise at Aorangi Park, which brings one gentleman to tears when his name is pulled out of the hat
As Peter Kay would say, everybody in… it’s spitting in SW19. No play for another hour at least.
Ninety minutes later than planned, I start on Court 6 for Anett Kontaveit against Lucrezia Stefanini and I’ve managed to sit by the family of the Estonian, world No 2 as recently as last summer. They are perplexed that Kontaveit, 27, is on Court 6, which seats about 50 people, as this is her last tournament in tennis. She is retiring after a chronic back injury that has seen her plummet to world No 81.
Over to Court 4 for Pam Shriver-coached Donna Vekic against Zhang Shuai, which is going with serve until rain stops play about 25 minutes later.
Anett Kontaveit faced Lucrezia Stefanini in the first match of the day
Zhang Shuai faced Pam Shriver-coached Donna Vekic on day three of Wimbledon
It’s a light jog to No 1 Court with its roof on for Brit Arthur Fery, who starts well against world No 3 Daniil Medvedev. With the roof on, it has humidity reminiscent of a botanical garden.
Three games of Danielle Collins’ second set against Julia Grabher on Court 17 and there’s more rain. I told a colleague I’d meet him for lunch and was hoping to be halfway there but we’re on four of 18. I’m starting to think this was a bad idea.
We’re back out and embark on an extremely productive hour, taking in Camila Osorio’s match on Court 5 — the Colombian was backed by many in the country’s yellow colours — and then see many Aussies disappointed as Alexei Popyrin drops the third set on Court 7. Six down, 12 to go.
A medical timeout on Court No 3 for Wu Yubing but after around 10 minutes he returns for a second set against Frances Tiafoe, one of my favourite players.
Plenty of South Africans are on Court 9 for Lloyd Harris’s second set, which he wins in a tiebreak, then it’s over to Court 10 for Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut’s fourth set. Then it’s to Court 15 as Francisco Cerundolo races into a 3-0 lead in the third set. A dreadful morning but a very productive early afternoon takes us past the halfway mark.
A sprint to Court 18 to catch scenes of Just Stop Oil invading Katie Boulter’s match. I stay in situ to watch her see out the set and race ahead in the second before catching breath on Court 14 for world No 14 Borna Coric.
British youngster Arthur Fery fell to defeat to Daniil Medvedev despite a strong performance
Katie Boulter’s match was stopped by a Just Stop Oil protestor, but she came back and won
Over to Court 11 which is sunkissed as Tamara Korpatsch forces a third set against Canada’s Carol Zhao, then we check out Zhao’s compatriot Denis Shapovalov. His match started on Monday night as he went a set down but a packed Court 12 cheers him back into a 2-1 lead.
On to Court No 2 for one of the best first-round matches, former US Open champion Dominic Thiem versus Greek lovebird Stefanos Tsitsipas, who says he has found his soulmate in female player Paula Badosa despite the couple only starting courting two months ago. The winner will play Andy Murray so there are a lot of Brits watching intently. Fifteen down, three to go!
Time for a very quick three games of Bernarda Pera on Court 8 before dashing over and fighting through queues to see Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva on Court 16. Along with Netflix cameras I watch her take the first set and she looks commanding. Now for the big one…
On TO Centre Court for the favourite and 23-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic. Aussie Jordan Thompson is giving him a good fight but is about to lose in straight sets. Oh, there’s David Beckham in the royal box. Just under 12 hours after arriving on site, that’s the full set. My Apple Watch informs me I’ve clocked nearly 20,000 steps and the mirror tells me I’ve caught the sun.