A small mountain of dirty towels, stray underwear left in the washing machine or a pile of well-worn tennis shoes are some of the souvenirs landlords in southwest London often find when they return home after letting out their houses to players competing at Wimbledon.
They are the lucky ones."A Swedish player, who is now a coach, once left the house (he was renting) suddenly without informing anyone that he was leaving early," Joanna Doniger, who runs a short-term letting agency that specialises in renting out private homes to players during the Wimbledon fortnight, told Reuters in an interview.
“The owner went back five days later and saw that there was an infestation of flies as it was a really hot summer and food had been left out to rot.
“She then went into her white bathroom and it had turned green because there was mould growing everywhere. The player had left the hot shower running and the steam caused the mould growth. The owner was very, very upset and beyond angry.”
Surely that scene must have convinced the owner never to let out her house again?
“Of course not. Not when the homeowners can earn three times the going rate for a short-term let,” added the bubbly Doniger, who rents out around 150 properties every June through her company Tennis London. In an area which lacks hotels, one-bedroom flats can earn 1,000 pounds ($1,598.500) a week while a top-end, five-bedroom house has a price tag of 10,000 pounds ($15,985.000) a week.
Businessman Chris Lim has a two-bedroom, ground-floor flat in a building once owned by the Dutch Royal family and was suitably excited when he discovered his home would be taken over by tennis royalty.
“I'm a keen tennis player myself and was very excited when I found out Roger Federer was staying here,” Lim, who has also rented his flat to former top-10 American James Blake
“Apparently his reason for staying here was because he liked my furniture - even if he did put it in the car park. I saw some pictures in the papers with my best leather chairs in the gravel drive. (I) did think that was a bit cheeky but there was no damage. Lim also found an unexpected stash had been left behind for him one year — a stack of towels.
Lim's experience is not an isolated case. “Often owners come back and find a lot of tennis clothes left for them,” explained Doniger, whose company takes a 15 percent cut of each rental.
“Tennis shoes, tennis balls, clothes, they are always leaving those behind. They are usually worn, left in the washing machine... forgotten. I once had Nadal's knickers left behind,” she grinned. “You should see some of the shoes left behind. John Isner's shoes are huge, they are like this," Doniger indicated by holding her hands about a metre apart. “He needs a suitcase for each shoe.”