My life in travel: Virginia Wade, former Wimbledon champion

'I love to stay in small, luxury hotels, but I don't need flashy restaurants'

First holiday memory?

Taking road trips in South Africa, where I grew up. We used to pile in the car at five o'clock in the morning and head off on long two-day drives. My father was the Archdeacon of Durban, so we would wait until his services had finished at Christmas and take off for these incredible holidays. We would end up on a farm in the Eastern Cape near Queenstown, which was owned by a family friend. They had a pool and a tennis court too, so I think I probably learnt to play there.

Best holiday?

Italy. I always have the best holidays there, whether it be Capri, Florence or Venice. My ideal holiday is a bit of culture and history, with time on the beach and good food.

Favourite place in British Isles?

I love Scotland, especially driving around the West Coast past all the lochs and the Isle of Mull.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Be prepared and don't take too much stuff. I quite like doing the planning myself and cross referencing my sources to avoid all the really dodgy places. Even though you might want to adjust and change plans, I've also learnt you do need to make some reservations in advance.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

A mixture of a culture and a beach. I travelled to Croatia last year, because it covered both angles. I went to Dubrovnik first, which has an unbelievable history, and then the island of Hvar for the sublime weather.

Greatest travel luxury?

I love to stay in small, luxury hotels. I certainly want to be comfortable, but I don't need the flashy restaurants that come with big five-stars. The nicest place I've been to recently was La Bastide de Moustiers in Provence, which is owned by Alain Ducasse. It's small, they look after you perfectly and the food is divine.

Holiday reading?

It has to be interesting, perhaps marginally historic, but not too heavy. Ideally something I already know a certain amount about that fills me in a little more.

Where has seduced you?

With my South African background, there's nowhere like the Cape. I haven't been back for a long time, but I still hanker after it. I also love the Mediterranean climate and absolutely adore spending time in Greece, especially the islands.

Worst travel experience?

Moscow. I first went in the late Sixties, when I was playing tennis. At that time, during the Soviet era, they would always confiscate your passport and refuse to give it back until you left the country. It was a scary experience. There were wardens on each corner of the hotel and they watched everything you did. The food was inedible, too. The only thing you could eat was chocolate and champagne. I went back 20 years later and it was probably even more depressing.

Best hotel?

Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland. When I was touring professionally, we did tennis clinics there every summer for years and years. I also stayed in an unbelievable place in Amsterdam called the Seven One Seven, which is a small boutique hotel on the banks of the Prinsengracht. For tennis, I also like the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna, California, because it's got tennis courts that look down over the beach.

Favourite walk?

I love roaming around Capri, especially when you get away from crowds, up into the pine trees, where there are fantastic views, little restaurants and very few people. You can sit and have lunch and then put your head down on the table afterwards for a little snooze.

Best meal abroad?

A place in Valparaiso, Chile. I was in Santiago during their winter time and the weather was a bit dull and grey, so I decided to head to the coast. I asked some locals where I could find the best fish from the Pacific and they pointed me down to this place near the harbour. It was a complete dump from the outside, but they cooked a sublime soup, which probably had 20 different kinds of fish in it. I can remember the flavour even now.

Dream trip?

It would start by avoiding the airport, so perhaps flying in a nice private plane from lousy miserable weather to arrive in perfect blue sky. I'd like to be looked after somewhere secluded with beautiful soft sheets. The destination might even be one of the remote safari camps in Africa. I went on a fantastic safari when I was younger in Kenya where the nights spent sitting out under the stars were divine, but I'd like to go to a real luxury camp.

Favourite city?

Rome. It isn't huge, but you can't walk for 10 minutes without seeing something beautiful in the way of ancient architecture. You can always find great food and I like the Italian people.

Where next?

My next plan is to go back to Buenos Aires. I was there once in the early Seventies and I just thought it was fantastic. It's been way too long since I've been back.

Virginia Wade is a former Wimbledon champion. She is a BBC commentator for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2012, which start on Monday.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam