I had good intentions to blog during the Olympics. Really, I did. It turns out though it’s quite draining spending most of the day out and about, travelling to sport, watching sport, travelling to another sport, travelling home from sport! On the brief moments I had on the couch I just wanted to relax, and watch more sport on TV.
I’ve now been back in Melbourne for a week and during my prime blogging hours in the evening I’ve tended to be asleep. It’s taking a while to get back on the right time zone! I think I’m finally ready to sum up the sports I’ve seen and I’m planning on doing so in a series of posts. I will combine some sports but this one deserves a post of its own because I took 700 photos of it.
First and foremost, my favourite sport without an engine, the sport that made me plan this whole Olympics thing in the first place, tennis. I had five very awesome days at Wimbledon but from the first time I arrived it was clear this was not your ordinary tennis crowd.
My main tennis experiences have all been at the Australian Open, where there are two ticketed show courts, then one large free for all ground pass court that also gets great matches. On a weekend when the grounds are packed this court will fill up quickly and remain like that all day, with long queues to get in at each change of ends. I expected something similar at the Olympics. Kim Clijsters, John Isner, Andy AND Jamie Murray? Turns out no, my expectation of needing to get in when the gates opened an hour before play was about as wrong as you can be. A large portion of the tickets had gone to people who were just happy to be at the Olympics rather than actual tennis obsessives, and this was reflected by the number of empty seats on all the courts.
On a selfish note, knowing I’d always be able to get a seat it was nice to be able to come and go from various courts and check out all the people I wanted to see. On day one I saw Kim Clijsters, John Isner, Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Li Na, the Murrays, John Isner again, playing doubles with Andy Roddick, and Jo Wilfried Tsonga playing doubles against David Nalbandian. Normally at tennis doubles aren’t my priority but it was really enjoyable at the Olympics to see so many people playing doubles who don’t usually do so. It was also nice to see Kim for the last time with the knowledge that she is going to retire in a couple of weeks because she’s my favourite female player and when I saw her at the Australian Open it wasn’t 100% certain that she wouldn’t be back.
My second day at Wimbledon was with a Court 1 ticket but I only watched one full match there. Too much to see outside again! I started out watching the sole Kiwi representative, Marina Erakovic, who was easily beaten. Sadface. Then I saw a little of Pico’s match, all of Serena’s, a little of Tipsy, and a little of Serena again, playing doubles with her sister. This was to become a recurring theme, I saw an awful lot of the Williams sisters over my five days, but that’s OK because I love them! I was quite sad I had to leave as Roger and Stan were scheduled to play their doubles match after the Williams match but as it was I was running terribly late for the hockey, so I had to put my faith in getting to see Roger another time.
Day three was Court 1 again, and started with Andy Murray. Prince William and Kate were there which excited me more than it should have, but I do adore her wardrobe.
Then it was Serena again, and finally Juan Martin del Potro. I cheered him on as a proxy for Kait. By this stage Roger and Stan had lost their doubles and I was thanking the tennis gods that I got to see them play in Sydney at the Davis Cup last year because Roger playing doubles isn’t something that you get a lot of chances to see. I also hadn’t seen him play any singles matches because he kept being on Centre Court of course. So at the tennis I’d seen the second in line to the throne, and I’d seen the First Lady of the United States but I hadn’t seen my favourite tennis player. Brilliant.
Day four was my first visit to Centre Court and every part of it was glorious. First up I saw Andy Murray in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson, making him the only player I’d seen in all three draws.
I was going with it since he was the local favourite and I was swept up in Olympics love because otherwise I’d think the tennis gods were spiting me. They beat Hewitt and Stosur from Australia, it was really weird for me seeing those two play together! The first medal match was the Women’s Singles.
Then Serena got a gold medal, the Bryan brothers got a gold medal, it was a good day for the USA and a good day for me, especially because I knew I’d finally be seeing Roger the next day, and I’d see him get a medal!
Sadly day five did not bring a gold medal for Roger but that was OK, it was still awesome to see him get a medal full stop. I actually think it might have been harder to watch him lose on TV because the medal ceremony made it all OK for me! I had really good seats, just a couple of rows behind the players boxes. I doubt I’ll ever be that close to Centre Court again!
That day I also saw the Williams sisters win their doubles gold medal (told you I saw a lot of them!)
I did not stick around for the mixed doubles final. Due to Andy Murray being a machine and wrapping up the men’s singles final so quickly I managed to get to the athletics 15 minutes before the session started which was brilliant, I’d spent about a year assuming I would have to miss some of it and considering it was the dearest ticket of my whole Olympics it was nice to see it all!
I did find the crowd a little infuriating at times. I’ve never heard so many crying babies, ringing cellphones, and general chit chat during play. I understand that they weren’t necessarily tennis fans, but I would have thought it was common sense to be quiet during play! I also suffered from that common tennis problem of sitting in front/behind/beside a couple of people who spend the whole time asking each other basic questions about tennis that the other person can’t answer. It might sound snobby but it really does hurt to hear someone telling all their friends that Caroline Wozniacki is the number one player in the world.
Another downside was the ridiculous queues for food and drink. This was by no means exclusive to Wimbledon, every event I went to had queues of up to 40 minutes just to get a coffee. You shouldn’t have to make the choice between eating and drinking and actually seeing all of the event you’ve paid to see, but this was the norm everywhere and despite promises it didn’t get any better as the Games went on.
My friend Kate pointed out to me that the normal Wimbledon crowd is nothing like how it was during the Olympics. To me it kind of felt a bit like Wimbledon meets the Australian Open meets people who’ve never watched tennis in their life. It was at Wimbledon, and it was all grass and lovely, but the crowd was a bit more boisterous, a bit more drunk, and there was lots of flag waving Serbs around. I do love the atmosphere at at the Australian Open so it made me feel at home. It was a really, really great week.
Live vs TV verdict:
I love live tennis, it’s so easy to follow that you don’t miss anything by actually being there although at the Olympics I did miss seeing players being interviewed on court after their matches! As great as the Olympics were however, I think overall I prefer attending Grand Slams.