Friday 2nd July 2021 a date I’ll never forget. We are greeted by a security officer and given a parking space at the front of the car park, as this is for the guests of the Royal Box. My father ‘skipping Sikh’ had a special invitation from the chairman of The All England Lawn Tennis Club (Championships) Limited (AELTC).
What happened when we arrived at Wimbledon
We walk straight through, a quick bag check and no problem of my dad wearing his kirpan (knife) which every baptised Sikh wears as part of their identity. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out and my father and I wore our Indian traditional clothes. My father wore a lovely white kurta pajama which is called the Bana and a cream turban. He stood out! I wore a black and pink embroidered Indian suit, the only one I could fit into after putting on a stone in weight…because of lockdown!
I just couldn’t believe as we walked into the Royal Box. The centre court was right there — it felt surreal. I had to pinch myself, my father so composed, chilled out and not even fazed by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We were able to take some photos but there were a lot of protocols in place, so no photos when tennis is live and also no photos of the Royals and others.
What lunch was like in the Royal Box
Pre-lunch drinks were served from 11:00 on the balcony. You can see all across Wimbledon from here, took some lovely photos from the balcony. Then lunch was served at 11:30am. This is the funny bit. My father and I are Punjabi and I love my Indian food — who doesn’t? We are also vegetarian. The menu came and it was all too upper class for us. I didn’t fancy the one or two things that were for vegetarians compared to the rest, which were for non-veg people. My dad ordered bread and butter with some cheddar cheese with a cup of coffee. I on the other hand went for a bread roll, and a cup of tea, finished with the famous strawberries and cream. I could have really done with some samosas, onion bhajis and a nice masala chai. That would have filled us up!
My chat with Kate Middleton
As we walked out toward the centre court, I saw HRH Kate Middleton. I go over and say hello, she replies and I mention my dad is here with his skipping rope and when we get a break he will skip. Kate laughed and said that will be nice. Then another guest, an artist, said to my father, The Duke of Kent said you look so elegant — who are you and what do you do and what is this medal for? My dad was wearing his MBE. I felt proud. Being in the Royal Box was the perks of my father’s amazing hard work and effort of keeping the nation fit through skipping!
Who we met in the Royal Box
We entered the seating area and sat in the second row, right behind the Duke of Kent and Kate Middleton, who looked over to my father to congratulate him. My father was really honoured and humbled to be recognised by the Royal family. It was a privilege to be there.
A few seats down in the same row was Joe Wicks, and further down was Mr Motivator. It was just truly amazing to be in the presence of such inspirational personalities who made a big difference in the pandemic.
My favourite was seeing Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov play. I had my hopes on Murray winning! Such a shame the two-time champion Murray lost 6-4 6-2 6-2 against left-hander Shapovalov.
An experience of my life
To see the games from morning to evening, being in the crowd and hearing the sounds players make, the ball being hit, the cheering on for Murray from the crowd, the laughter. It was all an experience that left me feeling elated.
Throughout the day, we were offered refreshments, there was an afternoon tea from 3:45pm where they had sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastry, as well as the famous strawberries and cream.
I really appreciate AELTC bringing together so many of us after a year of lockdown and to see a lot of diverse people, this made me so happy, that change is coming.
Pride at seeing my father’s efforts celebrated at Wimbledon
There was one beautiful moment where my father and I were seen on BBC 2 and his fundraising efforts were mentioned. There was a very lovely photo of a colourful butterfly just sat on the tip of his turban.
As a young girl, I have always wanted to go to Wimbledon and have never been lucky enough to get tickets, not even the ballot, this was a real dream and it’s a memory I will cherish forever. The fact that my father and I stood out in our national dress and made many share on social media including a very famous Indian singer Diljit Dosanjh who said in Punjabi that he felt proud and that my father is a role model to all of us. This is a day I will never forget.