Tennis star John Isner’s feats of endurance are stuff of sports legend. The name of the 6-foot-10 former NCAA all-American is immortalized on a plaque outside of Wimbledon’s Court 18, where, in 2010, he defeated Nicolas Mahut in the longest match in tennis history. The famous bout was a remarkable five-set drama that lasted 11 hours and five minutes, spread over the course of three days. In 2018, he cemented his reputation for competing in long-duration matches, logging the lengthiest semifinal in Wimbledon history, a six-hour, 36-minute battle he ultimately lost to South African Kevin Anderson. Currently ranked 9th by the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour, the 33-year-old still has ambitions of winning a Grand Slam event.
Wimbledon, the most prestigious tournament in tennis, will always, he says, be a special tournament for him. “The only thing I can compare it to is the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club,” he says. “It’s so steeped in tradition. I’m always amazed how this very quaint, sleepy little town comes alive during the tournament. It attracts fans from around the world every single year.”
Wimbledon Village is also where Isner proposed to his wife, Madison McKinley, in 2017. She’ll be returning this year with their daughter to cheer him on from the stands. Here, Isner shares his tips for navigating the Tournament, plus not-to-miss attractions in London, so you can plan a bespoke vacation to see tennis' greatest match.
Isner's Travel Tips:
If coming from the city, take the Underground District Line to Southfields. It drops you right in the Village and from there it’s a short walk to the stadium.
Strawberries and cream and Pimm’s are Wimbledon staples when it comes to food and drink.
This goes for any Grand Slam tournament: Go the first four days of the tournament when there are several matches going on. The courts are full everywhere and it’s a much more intimate viewing experience.
The Fox & Grapes is a traditional English pub in Wimbledon Village, with a menu of fishcakes and steaks. I took my wife to dinner here the night before I proposed.
Even though London is a massive city, it doesn’t feel that way because there are so many green spaces. I always like to spend some time wandering Hyde Park and the Royal Parks.
I love how historic London is. I always recommend a visit to the House of Commons. It’s so neat and full of history.
The Ultimate Trips for Tennis Fanatics:
Grand Slam Tennis Tours specializes in arranging trips to major events, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, Roland Garros, and the Australian Open. Not only will they secure excellent seats, they also host welcome dinners with tennis celebrities and can arrange playing opportunities on grass at Roehampton Club during Wimbledon, on the red clay of the Tennis Club de Paris at Roland Garros, and at the famed Kooyong Club in Australia. During Wimbledon, sip Pimm’s at their private hospitality space, located just a few steps from the famed All-England Club.