For as long as I can remember, I have been watching Wimbledon on the television with my grandfather. I would sit near the bottom of his chair in the kitchen and watch as the greats of tennis gave us all a show of true athletic talent year after year. When I first started watching Wimbledon, my grandparents were running an all girls' camp in New Hampshire and when I was a little older the summer camp shut down to the public and became a "camp" for their grandchildren. This came with pluses and minuses, but one of the biggest pluses I can remember as a kid was having a tennis court to play on with my cousins in hundred degree weather. We'd throw on bug spray, load our bags full of water and any treats we could sneak and would walk to the top of the hill every afternoon after Wimbledon had finished on the television. It was there we'd pretend to be the stars we had watched for years on the courts in London. I can remember trying to perfect the grunt one sounds when swinging the racket. I never really got it down to a fine art and do believe in fact that the surrounding community thought a great walrus was being killed every time I returned a ball and tried to sound like one of my tennis Gods. We'd play for hours until our arms couldn't be raised for another serve or our legs started to feel like Jell-O, whichever came first. In all my years of pretending to be a Wimbledon champion, I never imagined that one day I would call the home of Wimbledon a home of my own.
Sadly, after living nearly a decade in London, I had not managed yet to attend Wimbledon for myself. My tennis days seem forever and a day ago and work seems to have crept into every single moment of every waking hour. Excuse after excuse kept me from making my way to the courts. However, without fail, each year I watched the tournament on television and remembered easier days when all I had to worry about was whether or not every ounce of flesh had been attacked by mosquitoes.
For lack of a better turn of phrase, I suppose you could say all that changed for me on July 4th, 2012. Finally a day where I took time out and attended an event I have always held in such high regard. What makes this day particularly special is the fact that I was invited to attend the Wimbledon Championships by Ralph Lauren. Somehow everything about that situation seems perfect to me. As an American I was invited to attend my favourite British event by my one and true icon in fashion on the day of my country's birth. If that isn't stars aligning I just don't know what is.
From the first moment I stepped into the Ralph Lauren Marquee, to the last moment I waved goodbye to centre court, I don't think my feet touched the ground once. It was all a bit surreal. It would have been enough just to be a guest of Wimbledon, but in true Ralph Lauren style we were presented with an experience that was second to none. With a cushion and umbrella in one hand and a Pimms and programme in another, I made my way onto first Court No. 1 and then Centre Court to watch true legends in tennis battle it out on the grass. It's a day that will always remain so dear to my heart and I cannot thank Ralph Lauren enough for inviting me to be a part of the festivities.
I so wish I could have taken you all with me. However, I did have so many of you in my thoughts while I was there and my phone was snapping away to document moments to share with you today. Enjoy a first look at taking in Wimbledon as a guest of Ralph Lauren...