Roland Garros - Close Encounters of a Major Kind

Djokovic on Court Suzanne Lenglen

What an amazing day at Roland Garros!  The match between Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro proved to be an intense battle, with long exchanges and incredible returns, the Swiss player, Stanislas Wawrinka, disappointed the French by defeating the French player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and most importantly for a Swiss-by-marriage like me, I had a close encounter with Roger Federer...and a few other notables like John McEnroe, Tony Parker, and Novak Djokovic.

Swiss fans being interviewed by TSR, one of the Swiss television channels

After watching the Women's Singles on the Philippe Chatrier Court, I joined some of the other Swiss fans who were proudly following Roger Federer's match on the big screen at the Place des Mousquetaires.  Feeling a bit disappointed that seeing Roger on a screen was as close as I was going to get to him at Roland Garros, I decided to check out the action on the practice courts and then went over to the Suzanne Lenglen Court where Roger had just finished playing a sucessful match to advance to the second round. Noticing a group of people clustered around one of the exits, I decided to join them in hopes of getting a glimpse of the famous Swiss player.  It turned out to be well worth the wait.

Roger Federer leaving Suzanne Lenglen Court  
And this is why I like him off court as well as on - after signing quite a  few autographs, Federer was
obviously in a hurry to leave the area when a father asked him to take a picture with his son.
And he kindly agreed.  He makes me proud to be a Swiss-by-marriage!
Other happy fans who had the opportunity to see Roger Federer

Happy and a bit giddy with excitement, I was busy sending a message to Stéphane telling him that I had just seen Roger Federer when another tennis great, John McEnroe walked past me.  By the time that I put my phone in my purse and grabbed my camera, he had already entered a restricted area, so I asked the guard if I could take a quick photo.  He looked surprised that I wanted to take a picture of the middle-aged guy in a suit and asked me who it was.  When I told him that it was John McEnroe, he remained unimpressed and didn't appear to recognize the name of the former tennis star.  Fame truly is fleeting.  One day you have flocks of fans following you like Roger and the next day you're unknown. 

Or, maybe it's just generational because when I heard a buzz while walking through one of the more quiet areas of Roland Garros, I realized that somebody important was right in front of me.  Not knowing who it was, I snapped a picture and was told by some excited teens that the man in the hoodie and shades was Tony Parker, the French NBA basketball player who was married to Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives.

Tony Parker

One of the biggest upsets of the day didn't happen on the tennis court but rather when the officials at Roland Garros decided to move the match between Djokovic and Del Porto from the Philippe Chatrier to the Suzanne Lenglen court.  For some reason, the officials allowed those fans with night tickets and Suzanne Lenglen tickets to watch the match and didn't allow fans with Philippe Chatrier tickets to enter the stadium.  Needless to say, after waiting all day to see Djokovic and Del Porto, there were a lot of angry people.  After asking to be admittted at five different gates, Julie-Anne and I were finally allowed to go inside by a young man who agreed that it was an unfair decision.  We happily took our seats and were immediately absorbed in the game, while the furious fans who couldn't get in chanted "remboursé" (reimbursement) and "Philippe Chatrier" to try to convince the officials to move the match back to its originally scheduled venue.  It's a testimony to Djokovic and Del Potro's ability to concentrate because they continued to play when it sounded like the storming of the Bastille all over again!

Del Porto serving at Suzanne Lenglen Court
Djokovic on court
Djokovic off court with a stunned fan!
Djokivic leaving Roland Garros

Even though I didn't get to see the conclusion of Djokovic and Del Porto's match because the officials suspended their play until today, I had a wonderful time at Roland Garros with my niece, Julie-Anne, who travelled from Switzerland and joined me for the day!  Thanks Julie-Anne -- it was "super"!

Tomorrow's post will be about a few practical tips for visitors to Roland Garros.

An uncropped photo of Roger.  I was so close that I didn't even have time to focus the camera.


  1. EXCELLENT REPORT!!! So cool. Small correction, Roger advanced from the Third Round to go to the Round of 16.

    And that Tony Parker--dang, he's a good looking man.

  2. Thanks, Joseph! And thanks for the correction. It's good that someone is keeping an eye on what I write especially since I didn't get much sleep last night because I was so excited about everything that I had seen during the day. It was really great to be at Roland Garros. I'm going to see if I can get a "night ticket" so that I can go back for more.

    I didn't have time to appreciate Tony Parker but I figured out that he must be a good looking guy when I saw how excited my niece was when I told her that I had seen him. When I uploaded his picture from my camera this morning I wished that I would have had more time to look at him in person instead of through the camera lens. ;-)

    The one who really got my heart going was Roger. My hands were trembling after I saw him.


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