A day in the life of a ball girl
By Charlotte Thorpe
Being a Wimbledon Ball Girl is one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done. You train and train, in the knowledge that you will be in the global spotlight of the Wimbledon stage! On Tuesday 11th July, I felt as if I reaped the rewards for all those hours of training.
Every day during the tournament I felt so privileged as I walked through the gates of Wimbledon in my ball girl uniform. Flashing my pass to the security guard, I headed to the Ball Girl complex and met up with my team, who over the last few days had become not only a tight unit, but also life- long friends.
After our morning briefing, we were told that our team would be opening Court 2, which was a doubles match featuring Jamie Murray and Martina Hingis (who a few days later I was to ball girl for in the mixed doubles final). The game continued smoothly, with our team providing really solid support on court for the players. Although the match had started under blue skies and sunshine, clouds had been gathering during the match, and soon rain started to fall. The Umpire then called, “Ladies and Gentleman, play is suspended”. At that moment we sprinted off court, and soon enough the grounds staff followed, pulling the cover over Court 2 at the most impressive speed. Marching back to the complex, although I was disappointed our shift was cut short, I was proud of the effort and speed my team and I had shown on court.
When we got back to the complex, everyone was fixated on the Johanna Konta match on the TV that was taking place only a few metres away on centre court, which had the roof across to protect it from the English rain. This was a quarterfinal match against Simona Halep, and a chance for Konta to be the first British woman since 1977 to make it to a Wimbledon semi-final.
I couldn’t believe it when we received a call to go to the upper office, and were told that we would be the next team to go on Centre Court and ball girl for the biggest match of the Championships so far.
To enter centre court you have to wait in a small tunnel and on this particular day, that’s when I got the most nervous, because I could hear the cheer of the crowd and the sound of the balls flashing across the court. When the door opened, we sprinted on court, the whole stadium lit up and adrenaline rushed through me. I knew that 15,000 people were watching live from centre court and millions were watching at home, so I knew I had to perform to my highest standard. With every winning point for Konta, centre court erupted; then moments later there was a dramatic silence as she prepared to serve. Sometimes she hit the ball so hard, I couldn’t even see it, and I only caught a flash of green light. The atmosphere was simply electric with the centre court roof closed and the buzz of the British spirit. In that moment, I knew that it was truly an honour to be on centre court, feeding tennis balls, to the new British hero- I felt as if I had truly played a part in British Sporting History.
The whole Wimbledon experience has been truly amazing and one I will treasure forever. I am eternally grateful to all the teachers at Ricards and the staff at Wimbledon; especially the ex-ball girls at Ricards who gave up their own time to pass on their knowledge and skills, which enabled me to become a Wimbledon Ball Girl.