Our trip to the French Open ­ May 24th /25th 2009

Account by Alex Rooney

In early spring Zaman suggested organising a trip to the French Open Tennis in Paris . As you can imagine great enthusiasm arose amongst Sheen players and many assured us they would definitely come along. However, as so often happens, things crept up and some could not take part (no names will be mentioned!!). In the final analysis, Ruth organised everything (!) with just 6 of us going on the trip. In the event, 6 was a perfect number since 12 people following Ruth around the metro would have been a real challenge.

 

We set off early on Sunday 24 th May, by taxi from Sheen Tennis Club to St Pancras, where we took the Eurostar to Paris . It was a beautiful sunny day and when we arrived at the Gare du Nord we went straight to leave our bags at the Hotel Albert, a couple of minutes stroll away. We headed for the Musee du Louvre to buy sandwiches and drinks which we ate on a seat, shaded from the sun by a well placed tree! Heading for the River Seine we walked through the beautiful Tuileries Gardens and past the Orangerie Museum , where, it is rumoured, Eve Lowen is the voice over artist on the museum's audio guide system. Despite the temptation of visiting the exhibition and maybe even Eve “calling” us to go in, we continued towards the Seine for a river cruise on a Bateau-Mouche. This is a wonderful way to see Paris , without too much effort on a very hot day! The highlight was perhaps Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic bridges.

Later, after sorbets and drinks in a delightful pavement café we headed back to the hotel, and changed before going out for dinner in the Latin quarter . We selected a wonderful restaurant (recommended by Ruth!) on the cobbled, narrow and picturesque Boulevard Saint-Germain where we sat outside in the warm evening air enjoying kia sancerre aperitifs before dinner. How Parisian!

Although some members of our party had originally seemed keen to get to know the night life of Paris , we infact went straight back to the hotel after dinner, ignoring the flashing neon lighted ‘night time establishments’ that seemed to surround Hotel Albert!! In reality, we were shattered and needed our beauty sleep! I don't think anyone did venture out in the night although one or two, who shall remain nameless, said they had not slept much… claiming they had spent much of the night trying to coax the unresponsive air conditioner systems in their bedrooms back to life!

In the morning when we were ready to get to tennis, all nicely dressed in our smart casual clothes, we could not help but laugh, when Zaman suddenly appeared in his track suit with his usual sun cap, as if he was coming to the Sunday mix in at Sheen. It was so strange to see him like that in the middle of Paris and… without his racket...

We followed Ruth onto the metro and had to change a few times before eventually arriving at Roland Garos, where we marched with the crowd to register our online tickets for entry onto Court 1. It is a beautiful and intimate arena. Although not like our great Wimbledon of course, the Roland Garos complex is surprisingly green and welcoming.

We were on court 1, and had great matches on that Monday. The view was fantastic and the sun burning hot. First we saw Warinka the Swiss, beat the Frenchman Devilier in a 4 hour, 5 set battle. (Nigel modestly remarked that Warinka's backhand seemed to be modeled on his own whereas his forehand reminded him of Zaman's — WHAT IS IT WITH THOSE TWO?). Then appeared Maria Sharapova (in a gorgeous outfit of course) to beat Yakidowa in a closely contested 3 set match.

At lunch we had a picnic on the grass and us girls went shopping to get some new tennis outfits of course whilst Roz quickly managed to catch up with her old friend Rafa when he came off court.

After a very full and uplifting day we left around 6pm and headed back to the hotel to get our luggage. Waiting to board Eurostar at the Gare du Nord, more sandwiches and beer were consumed and sun tans (burns) compared…Zaman showed off his own tan which naturally no-one of us could compete with. 

We arrived back at St Pancras around 10 pm quite exhausted. The 2 days felt like a week long holiday and we certainly all thoroughly enjoyed it. Zaman is already talking of “organising” another trip to a Spanish tennis resort next Ma….Who knows — maybe he will manage to get it together (are you prepared Ruth? -- And by the way Gavin, don't say again you are coming if you are pulling out again! ☺

 

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