Millions of tennis fans from all over the world tune in to watch Wimbledon on TV. Viewers are probably surprised to see that some of the best seats in the house, hundreds right at Centre Court, remain empty – even during top events. It’s not that the seats aren’t sold; they’re not even no-shows. It turns out they belong to corporate guests – primarily, bankers – who would rather get drunk on champagne and down delicious grub than actually watch tennis.
No one quite phrases things like a British tabloid, so the Mirror probably said it best with recent headline, “Fatcats leave seats empty during Andy Murray’s win as they lap up hospitality instead.” While Britain’s best tennis player, the man who won Wimbledon just two years ago, played in one of the day’s main events, the Mirror reports that “there were plenty of seats left empty on Centre Court as 150 yards away people were more preoccupied with enjoying the hospitality in the corporate tents.” Apparently, many swanky corporate packages come with Centre Court seats included, whether they get used or not.
In a scene that sounds reminiscent of pre-revolutionary France, these privileged guests were spotted drinking champagne and rosé, snacking on strawberries and cream and dining on steak, completely abandoning their coveted seats. Meanwhile, diehard tennis fans were forced to wait in line all day just to cram onto Murray Mound – a spot where they could watch the match on a screen, happy to be at the tennis club at all.
Back at the corporate tent, time spent at Wimbledon was more about networking. “Some were saying they hate tennis, and one had never heard of Djokovic,” one corporate tent worker told the Telegraph. Okay, sure, but did you cook the man’s steak properly?