Heading to the Wimbledon Championship? Here's a banana shot for you: Wimbledon station isn't the closest stop.
Every June/July, tennis enthusiasts flock to Wimbledon for the greatest tournament on the calendar.
But — with echoes of the whole Mansion House-isn't-the-closest-station-to-Mansion-House debacle — the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) is closest to Southfields station, rather than Wimbledon station itself. Make sure you don't get — oh ho! — court out.
Google Maps shows Wimbledon station (served by the District line and National Rail) to be 1.54km, and a 21-minute walk, from the AELTC.
Southfields (on the District line) is just 1.3km — and 16 minutes' walk — to the tennis. So assuming you're headed southbound on the District line, it's a no-brainer to hop off at Southfields.
Still it's not quite game, set and match.
Adding an extra level of confusion to the proceedings, Wimbledon Park station (also on the District line) is PHYSICALLY closer to the AELTC than Wimbledon station AND Southfields, at just over 1km. However, because of the round-about route you have to walk, it takes 24 minutes to reach the tennis club from here.
Why isn't Wimbledon station the closest station to the famous tennis club? Whereas Mansion House station was originally the closest station to Mansion House before being usurped, the District line stations at Wimbledon, Wimbledon Park and Southfields all opened on the same day — 3 June 1889.
The fact is, of course, that Wimbledon station isn't named after the tennis club, but Wimbledon Village. But! When the Wimbledon Championship was first launched in 1877, it wasn't located at the site we know today, but at Worple Road, which was served by the existing Wimbledon station on the London and South Western Railway. That meant Wimbledon WAS the closest station to the tennis club. And when the District line Wimbledon Underground station was built in 1889, it was STILL the closest station to the tennis club. That changed in 1922, when the club upped sticks and moved to its current site on Church Road.
All that said, in all practicality, it's no biggie if you alight at Wimbledon instead of Southfields. The AELTC recommends using either or to get to the tennis club. And if you're arriving into Wimbledon on the mainline, it makes sense to get off and walk from there, anyway. But at least you can channel your inner Andrew Castle, and batter your friends with this trifling tennis trivia, as you walk the rest of the way to the AELTC.
Final word of warning: if you get off at South Wimbledon on the Northern line, you've got a 40-minute schlep to the tennis. Which really is anything but ace.
With thanks to Tabish Khan for the idea.