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Last day at Wimbledon is party day - with or without Murray

By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Centre Court tickets, two bottles of "fizz" and sunshine assured that Stevie Bishop of Surrey and Debs Major of London would have a good time on the final day of Wimbledon on Sunday despite Britain's Andy Murray being out of the competition.

The final day of the 13-day grand slam event is as much a day for partying, picnicking and celebrity spotting as it is for watching the main action on Centre Court where Roger Federer faced Novak Djokovic for the men's singles title.

The crowd near the gate where the celebrities enter had spotted crooner Cliff Richard, former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, actor Samuel L. Jackson and British former tennis professional and Wimbledon women's singles winner Virginia Wade.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife Kate, who saw Murray go down to defeat last Wednesday from the Royal Box, were back again for the men's final.

"It's just the atmosphere, there's nothing like Wimbledon really," Bishop said. They both said that with last year's champ Murray eliminated, they were rooting for Federer because, as Major put it, "He comes across as a friendly type."

Whoever won, though, a good time was guaranteed as the women had packed a bottle of Cava and another Prosecco - plus, Bishop was quick to add, things to eat.

The festive mood was shared by Cheryl Kilgannon and Anita Blake, both from London, who did not have Centre Court tickets but were back because, as Kilgannon put it, "It's so British".

"It's what all the tennis players want, and it's here in London, and they want to hold the cup to say, 'I've won Wimbledon' - that's why they keep on coming back," Blake said, explaining the championship's allure.

Throughout the two-week long event, rain or shine, win or lose for Murray, the mood at Wimbledon and in associated entertainment venues, has seemed light-hearted and upbeat.

At a huge marquee called "The Gatsby Club", across a road from the courts, the British entertainment and hospitality company Keith Prowse, a division of Compass Group, has done a brisk business in luxury tennis packages that include a champagne reception, gourmet meal, open bars, afternoon tea and seats for the tennis.

Although the packages cost more than what a ticket would cost if purchased directly from the All England Club, or its official ticket outlet Ticketmaster, for some people the expense is worth it.

The marketing and sales department of San Francisco-based Internet video advertising service BrightRoll thought it was worth splashing out last Thursday to reward loyal customers with a day at the world's premiere grasscourt tennis championships.

"It's entertaining, it's rewarding people you've had a good relationship with, and building an association with an amazing tournament," Rob Cootes, sales director for BrightRoll's British operation, said.

"We have about 10 clients and we look after them. They spend lots of money on advertizing...these are the people making the decision of where to place an ad."

(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Rex Gowar)

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