Wimbledon

Behind-the-scenes at Wimbledon with Tim Henman

HELLO! Online gets an access-all-areas tour of Wimbledon before the competition gets underway…

Chloe Best

Wimbledon is a sporting institution that draws in an estimated one billion viewers around the world, including high profile fans such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who are regular fixtures in the royal box at Centre Court each year.

With the 2016 Wimbledon Championships fast approaching, HELLO! Online enjoyed a behind-the-scenes "taste of Wimbledon" with former professional tennis player Tim Henman to get a glimpse at the preparations that go into staging such a prestigious sporting event.

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Tim Henman guided us on a behind-the-scenes tour of Wimbledon

Having reached the semi-finals four times throughout his career, Tim has spent a lot of time at Wimbledon, and is set to return as a BBC commentator throughout the 2016 championships.

His favourite memory of the tournament? "My first match on centre court. That was 1996, that was definitely a special moment. I won 7-5 in the fifth, and then I think when I beat Federer in 2001, that was a good day!"

But far from wishing he could be in Andy Murray's tennis shoes and competing again, Tim admitted he is glad that chapter of his career has come to an end so he can focus on spending more time at home with his wife Lucy and their three daughters.

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Andy Murray will be hoping to take the men's title again, three years after his first Wimbledon win

"I love coming back but I really don't miss 99% of it – all the tournaments, the training, the travel, the discipline, I don't miss it at all," Tim confided. "The final piece of the puzzle is playing on centre court. I think anyone who's had the chance is going to miss that bit."

Tim showed us around the beautiful Wimbledon grounds and in the area where the highly coveted Rosewater Dish and Wimbledon trophy are kept on display – something Andy will be hoping to get his hands on again following his first Wimbledon win in 2013.

We also got a glimpse at the players' area, where the likes of Novak Djokovic, Johanna Konta and Grigor Dimitrov will all be warming up, receiving physio treatment and fuelling up with nutritious meals before taking to the court for their games.

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Tim Henman admits playing on Wimbledon's Centre Court is the main thing he misses

There are some 19 championships grass courts at Wimbledon, all known for being in pristine condition at all times come rain or shine. But maintaining the grounds takes a lot of work, and over 20 groundsmen work all hours to plant, preen and protect the grass and incredible 50,000 plants on site.

Work begins just one week after the tournament ends at the beginning of July. Each championship court is skimmed back by 12mm before approximately one tonne of new seeds are laid and nurtured over the course of the year to form the precision cut and perfect courts Wimbledon is known and loved for.

With all eyes set to be on the tennis tournament when it returns on Monday, talk turns to whether Novak Djokavic has it in him to take the men's singles title for the third year in a row, or if he could be defeated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or even Andy Murray.

With so many strong contenders, could this be the greatest era of male tennis? Tim thinks it could be. "In my opinion I think so, yeah," he admitted. "With Federer, Nadal and Djokovic they've won 43 grand slams between them that's never happened in any other era, and that emphasises how well Murray's done to win Olympic gold and two Grand Slams, it's an unbelievable achievement."  

Tim Henman is working with Robinsons to give the nation a 'Real Taste of Wimbledon'.

Robinsons is giving away a pair of tickets to the Wimbledon Ladies' Final every day on its Facebook and Twitter pages. Visit facebook.com/Robinsons or @DrinkRobinsons from 27June – 2 July for a chance to win. All you need to do is share your Real Taste of Wimbledon using the hashtag #tasteofwimbledon.

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