By Michael Roddy
LONDON, June 28 (Reuters) - The inevitable really rainy day struck at Wimbledon on Saturday, but yellow-shirted Australian "Fanatics" were out to cheer on their countryman Nick Kyrgios, picnickers found shelter under gangways and people made do.
At the end of what had been a mostly gloriously sunny week, a band of showers moving across southern England led to what the All England Club said were "numerous match cancellations".
Some matches resumed at about 6 p.m., but it left many hours for people to find something else to do.
Kate Whelan and her 14-year-old daughter Victoria, from a town near Reading, England, bought one of the oversized yellow tennis balls for 10 pounds ($17) that are used for autographs and stationed themselves on one of the busiest walkways.
"We worked out that the competitors are wearing red bands - we don't actually recognise anybody," Whelan said. They'd managed to get one autograph scrawled on the ball but it wasn't particularly legible and Whelan said "we have actually no idea" whose it was.
And the rain? "You have to come back, it's such a wonderful place, even in the rain it's been a good time - though it would be good if we'd seen more tennis," Whelan, who'd last been to Wimbledon in 1984, said.
Anneliese Southworth and her husband John, from Southport, England, found an even better celebrity-sighting spot at a low-rise barrier in front of the entrance to the club facilities of the All England Club.
It being what is informally known as "people's Saturday", midway through the two-week-long tournament, famous British and world sports figures were invited to the Royal Box.
The Southworths missed seeing footballer David Beckham, word of whose presence rippled through the crowd, but they caught a glimpse of the famous Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
"I love tennis, I play myself, tennis is my thing," said Anneliese, who teaches sports. She was disappointed that their tickets would not get them into Centre Court to see her idol Roger Federer, but she loved seeing the play on grass courts.
"It is the most iconic tournament in the world, isn't it?" she said.
Underneath a gangway nearby, a half dozen Australians and New Zealanders working in London had set up a picnic with ham slices, nibbles and plenty of wine and drink. They were hoping for the sun to reappear, but were having a good time anyway.
"We're on working visas from Australia and New Zealand and we're looking for experiences in London and this is on the bucket list," said Emma Caire, 31, of Melbourne, who had gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to be sure to get a day pass.
"We're just here for a good day," she said.
So were another group of Australians who call themselves the "Fanatics" and who had taken over about a dozen seats on Court 17 to cheer for their countryman Kyrgios.
Their blindingly yellow T-shirts have attracted a lot of attention this year at Wimbledon, as has the "Fanatics" habit of bursting into song during breaks in the matches.
"If you're an Aussie we go for you - that's pretty much the mentality," said Brad Bevan, 25, of Sydney, who is working in Cambridge, England as a physical education teacher.
Bevan said the antics were meant in the spirit of good sportsmanship. "We get some people who might not like our techniques but we're respectful and we're quiet when we need to be," he said.
The Fanatics sang the Australian national anthem after Kyrgios and his Czech opponent Jiri Vesely had warmed up, but when the rain hit most of them went off to one of the pubs while two of the women sat in the drizzle to hold down their seats.
"Even if it does rain and we don't get to see any tennis we've still been to Wimbledon, and that's still exciting," said Chloe Hamilton, 24, of Mackay, Australia, who along with Laine Matsen, also of Mackay, huddled under umbrellas in the downpour.
When play finally resumed, Kyrgios rewarded his fans, beating his Czech opponent Jiri Vesely 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. ($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Writing by Michael Roddy,)