Eastbourne tennis: Wimbledon but a bit cheaper
Situated on the coast of southern England, a day spent at the Eastbourne tennis tournament is a typically quaint experience.
Eastbourne represents one of several Wimbledon warm-up tournaments. Ticket price-wise it’s a more affordable chance to see top players in action than the following two weeks at SW19.
The chance to get the feet moving on grass before a Slam makes Eastbourne an attractive proposition for players. Indeed, 2022 was given a boost with the surprise re-appearance of Serena Williams.
The location – Devonshire Park – has 13 tennis courts. I must admit, despite living just over an hour away, I’d never encountered the place.
Aside from the ticket price, the best deal was probably for parking. Options are plentiful.
Due to the current UK penchant for striking – in this case rail workers – more options were opened up. My choice to park for £8 for the day at Saffrons Sports Club meant just a 10-15min walk to Devonshire Park. From Saffrons, like other places, there is a park-and-ride system in place too.
Once in and positioned on sunny Centre Court, it’s clear this place is a cracking spot for sports fans.
With tickets at £55, the seated views are fantastic and the line-up was possibly the best of the whole week. Four Brits on show – Cam Norrie, Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage and Jack Draper. Plus the fifth and final match featured Serena herself. None too shabby for a lazy day on the coast.
I felt especially lucky to see a couple of sets of Williams, who is likely not far off retiring from tennis. Even more so when her doubles pairing with Ons Jabeur pulled out of the event on the following morning.
Away from the action
Like all modern-day sports events, the Eastbourne tennis experience caters particularly well for those who don’t actually care if they see any tennis.
A grounds pass gets you access to outside courts and deckchairs in front of a big TV screen. Here, you can soak up the sun and burn through your money like the locals do.
But much wincing can be had at the food and drink prices. They’re frankly ridiculous, so budget and take a packed lunch.
Unlike Wimbledon, I heard no champagne corks popping, but Pimms was out in force. Strawberries took their place among extortionately overpriced offerings.
The pièce de résistance is £5.50 for a bog-standard tuna and sweetcorn packaged sandwich that can be bought for half the price at a Tesco Express on the way.
So, while the on-court action at the Eastbourne tennis is mighty, the off-court costs will mount up quickly.
Just keep in mind that if you want to eat, drink and get merry, give the bank manager a heads-up.