LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - Every year, for two weeks, Britain turns tennis-mad. Wimbledon runs from June 24 to July 7 with an entire nation rooting for Britain’s Wimbledon underdogs.
But it’s not all about being glued to the screen or even your seats in the Royal Box.
Whoever your tennis hero is, local correspondents help you to spend 48 hours enjoying the perfect set of activities during the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
FRIDAY 5 p.m. - If you can’t wait until morning to get your tennis fix, after 5 p.m. on ground ticket admission costs less than 15 pounds ($22.81). Those who come to Wimbledon on corporate outings often leave in the early evening and after 3 p.m. tickets are resold for charity at 10 pounds for centre court and a fiver for the others. So if you’re lucky, you could be witness to some serious centre court play at bargain prices. 8 p.m. - The new Hot Pink healthy grill in Wimbledon will satisfy hungry tennis fans with 27 combinations of mains of meat, chicken, fish or vegetables served with sides and sauces. (www.hotpinkgrill.com) 11 p.m. - After checking into your hotel, swap your tennis shoes for Gucci loafers for checking out the west London club scene - Boujis, LouLou and Mahiki, where you just might rub shoulders with the young royals or tennis fan, socialite and Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa could be out in force with her entourage.
For a slightly ironic take on the west London night out - jump back to the 1980s at Maggie’s in Chelsea, a boutique members nightclub named after the former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who died in April. If you’re in town the Thursday before the Wimbledon final, don your tennis whites for Maggie’s retro tennis party. SATURDAY 11 a.m. - London’s foodie scene is insatiable for the next hot thing. Maltby Street market, started in 2010, is a gastronomic destination worth its salt. 2 p.m. - The two Wimbledon weeks coincide with the start of the summer sales - an opportunity to get the perfect set of threads in case you are caught on Murray Mound’s massive screen. 4 p.m. - Murray mania is not the only craze gripping the city in summer. Disappointing weather hasn’t held back the outdoor swimming trend and the forecast is kinder for Wimbledon’s second week. Go for a relaxing float in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and costing 4 pounds. Go earlier to beat the crowds, though you may still be competing with the wildlife in the water. 7 p.m. - Head east to Farringdon. Next to Smithfield meat market, the white and minimalist St John’s bar and restaurant housed in a former smokehouse offers simple British nose-to-tail cuisine and an ever-changing French wine list. (www.stjohngroup.uk.com)
Get a good night’s sleep. Being on the edge of your seat during a Wimbledon match takes a lot of energy.
SUNDAY 10 a.m. - Every day, except the last four days, a limited number of tickets for each of the Center, No.1 and No.2 courts are reserved for sale to the public at the turnstiles. Even in the last four days, it is possible to gain entry into the grounds. If you haven’t already got a ticket, go bright and early, equipped with a picnic hamper from Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly (www.fortnumandmason.com), sun block and extra layers. 2 p.m. - Venture out to the countryside for pick-your-own strawberries - wolf down with cream for the traditional Wimbledon treat. Garsons in Esher, Surrey is less than a half hour drive from Wimbledon and closes at 5. (www.garsons.co.uk) 7 p.m. - Inspired by Murray and company, practice your own backhand at one of the many tennis club’s in the British capital. Islington Tennis Centre runs drop in, mixed ability tennis sessions. On Saturday and Sunday they run from 7 until 10 p.m. and you don’t need a racket or a partner. 9.p.m. - Take your pea and mint sauce shaken not stirred in Pea Tini form at The Fish and Chip shop on Upper Street - the latest addition to London’s nostalgia cuisine scene. The Islington eaterie is posher than your average chippie with oysters, scallops and lobsters on the menu alongside British classics battered fish and scampi. (www.thefishandchipshop.uk.com)
$1 = 0.6577 British pounds Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva, editing by Paul Casciato