The leafy London suburb of Wimbledon becomes a rental hotspot every British summer.
The leafy London suburb of Wimbledon becomes a rental hotspot every British summer.

 

Fancy having Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in your bed? Or perhaps you’d prefer Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova on your couch?

Well, that could become a reality if you own a home around Wimbledon.

The world’s top tennis stars and thousands of fans are heading to southwest London and, with no hotels close enough to the tournament venue, it’s a rush to secure the top rentals.

Wimbledon Village — which has an average asking price of over $3 million in the sales market — and nearby Southfields are the more desirable areas for the likes of Roger Federer, who will once again be splashing out on two properties for himself and his entourage.

Jane Weldon, who will be renting her house for a seventh year, has played host to a number of famous faces.

“There was one year when Rafa Nadal was thinking about renting it and I thought that would be really exciting, being able to say that Rafa Nadal has been in my bed,” she told CNN’s Open Court.

“But he rented somewhere else, he didn’t come.”

Rental for apartments with the SW19 zip code start at $2,200 a week — and family homes top out at $23,000 over the same period.

The extra room and the proximity to the British tournament’s facilities are a big lure for players like Nadal, who enjoy making the short trip to practice at the famous Aorangi Park.

“It’s a different way to stay at a tournament,” Nadal told CNN.

“You’re in a house, you feel a little bit different. Sometimes it’s great to change a hotel for a house.

“That gives you a little bit extra calm, you feel more relaxed and you feel a little bit like you’re at home so I enjoy that feeling.”

For the past 24 years, Joanna Doniger has been coming up ace by taking care of some of the world’s leading players.

The realtor has found houses for top players such as record seven-time men’s champions Federer and Pete Sampras, and the Williams sisters — who have 10 Wimbledon titles between them.

With 175 homes on her books, she is one of the leading authorities on what the stars demand when it comes to Wimbledon.

She has dealt with all kinds of different requests, including that made by Sampras, who brought his own bed to the two-week championships.

“He liked to sleep in a very large bed in a very small room,” Doniger says of the American.

“So we used to have to take all the windows out and have the bed winched in through the windows. That was a bit of a problem really.”

Sampras’ sleeping habits aside, Doniger has had plenty of other strange requests during her time in the business.

“There was a player who really had a phobia about spiders,” she adds.

“Every year we used to send a rent-a-kill twice before he arrived. It was an absolute fear about spiders.

“I can’t tell you who it is because it would be absolutely awful if one day he was playing tennis and somebody put spiders in his rackets.”

One of the most attractive lures of renting a home instead of a hotel room is the extra space and opportunity to live with those close to you, according to 2013 Wimbledon ladies’ champion Marion Bartoli.

Bartoli rented the same house between 2008 and 2012 but could only reach the quarterfinals.

The following year she changed venue — and promptly went on to win her only grand slam, before retiring just weeks later.

“Some players are coming with a big crew, and love to have one of those great houses in Wimbledon because they can have almost their whole family and team,” the 2007 runner-up told CNN.

“Everyone is living together. We often do barbeques on the Sunday. You almost feel it’s a nice day off when you’re home with your family.

“It’s a real different feeling when you play Wimbledon — you don’t have that in New York for sure.

“So it’s just something really nice about Wimbledon. It makes you feel you can have a normal life.”

Defeat will often mean a player will not return to the same accommodation the following year, while success often secures another booking for 12 months down the line — though the competition can be as fierce as it is on the hallowed grass courts.

Doniger says the most expensive house available for rent during Wimbledon is a six-bedroom home which commands a fee between $19,000-$23,000 a week.

Houses which are closer to the venue are more expensive than those in Southfields, which requires a 20-minute walk.

The money generated by the arrival of the world’s top tennis stars has had a galvanizing effect on local residents — the extra money works wonders for those struggling to pay the mortgage.

And with local prices in keeping with London’s ever-increasing property bubble — a house on Bathgate Road, which is right beside the Wimbledon complex, last year sold for over $8.5 million– they need all the help they can get.

“I think in the early days we had a big house and a lot of financial pressures,” William Flateau, a homeowner, told CNN.

“It was a good way of helping out with the mortgage. As the years have gone on I think we just have got to enjoy it. It is very interesting having lots of different people.”

Doniger, who says she has 14 of the top players in the world on her list of clients, is expecting a frenetic few weeks.

With over $2.3 million expected to move through her company’s account this year — the firm┬átakes 15% of the rent — this is the area’s most lucrative period.

“It’s fun. Of course the next two weeks will be hell,” Doniger said ahead of the tournament, which begins on Monday.

“They’re all arriving, you never know when they’re coming.

“It’s all very last minute because of course they’re all playing tournaments in other places and then some of them get injured and then they can’t come at all and I have to find someone else to take the house. It’s all very dramatic.”

As reported by CNN