Okay, here goes, finally finishing up my random wrap up notes from Paris.
It feels good to be in Paris again, the delish aroma of pastry and baguette as I pass the corner patisserie, narrow cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, tiny specialty shops, and tree-lined Boulevard Saint Germaine; even the noise from motorbikes is familiar and welcoming.
Play starts on Sunday at Roland Garros .. are they kidding? FIFTEEN days of clay court tennis? This could really drive me over the edge. I make the executive decision and get there on Monday. Do I really need pix of people who loose in the first round? Well, I could have used images of Andy, but who thought he’d go out so soon?
The American players haven’t done well here since the Agassi, Chang, Courier area and this year is no exception. Andy Roddick, Ryan Harrison, Donald Young, James Blake and Sam Querrey, along with Serena Williams all packed their bags after the first round.
The red clay of Roland Garros always has a few surprises in store, but who would have thought that 19 year old Sloan Stevens and 26-year-old Varvara Lepchenko would have been the only Americans making it into the 4th round? Neither of these women had ever made it even to the third round of a slam. The good news is they are both very nice players who you love to see win and it’s great to see some new faces.
I’m never able to get a lot of sleep in Paris. I like to get up early, walk along the river, I cross the Pont Saint Michele, constructed during Napoleons regime in 1857, and walk to a small park in the middle of the river. If you turn your head you can see a smiley face giving you a “bonjour” in the morning.
After eating Pain Chocolate on one of the benches looking out onto the river, I head to the metro for the 20 minute ride out to the site.
I’m shooting Sharapova and wondering why Nike doesn’t give her black shoes. The whites with pink trim look terrible with the little black cocktail type dress she is sporting Or maybe gold.. yes, gold would be excellent. After all this is Paris, a fashion capitol. Come on Nike get with the program.
As for the fans, gotta love the fashionable French… no baseball caps in the good seats on court Phillipe Chartrier… white straw Panama hats are the head-gear of choice. And how about this woman. Her red hair, freckles and tortoise-shell glasses seem perfect against the back drop of the deep orange clay court.
Have to hand it to the French for making it possible to get around, the Metro is terrific, fast and efficient , but if you don’t want to go underground, rental bikes and electric cars that you can pick up and use for an hour or a day with just a swipe of your credit make life a lot easier, especially when no cabs are to be found. Roller blades are another option; even the police use them to outdistance law breakers.
Women’s semi-final day is always devoted to the ladies, the tournament has done the red clay of court one up in pink. Who but the French would think of this, would go to this trouble?
I never really put my camera’s away in this French capital. So many images to capture. A woman turning cart wheels in the courtyard of the Louvre, the amazing IM Pei Pyramid, the music of a Cellist framed by classic columns, padlocks on the fence along the Pont des Artes, locking in young love.
As for pix of at RG… what I really like to do are the more unique images, the ones that show you something or a feeling that you haven’t seen or noticed before, Maria’s back, the net used to rake the court, the hands of a ball girl.
And of course we have to talk about the rain! OMWord. I did a lot of rain photos, but one of my favorites is this view from my desk of a journalist calmly eating lunch under the umbrellas on the press dining room patio. Rain? What of it? He’s enjoying his lunch and a little precipitation is not going to stop him. New Father’s Mike Bryan and Gustavo Kuerten show of their gorgeous daughters.
On Saturday, Maria Sharapova ended her French Open journey by lifing the trophy overhead and joining an elete group including Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams, completeing a career Grand Slam.
Sunday. The men are final. Could have gladly done something unspeakable to Nadal for losing the third set, and depriving me of my Monday day off in Paris. After sitting in drizzling rain for the better part of THREE hours all I wanted was to be done with this final, but that was not to be the case.
Monday. Rafa is up 5-4 in the fourth.. OMG maybe we are finally going to get out of here…and once more the showers start. DJ wants to stop, but the Spaniard isn’t hearing of it .. there is a discussion with the tournament referee, and they decide not to leave the court but sit under umbrellas until it stops..about 10 to 15 minutes. I sit under my umbrella that my good friend Diana has brought to me from Brazil. The sunny scenes from Ipanema beach are incongruous here.
Finally a weak sun breaks through e clouds and the King of Clay wins 7-5. With this win he surpasses Borg’s record of six French Open titles and becomes the most crowned player in Open Era history at Roland Garros. This win also deprives the Serb number one in his bid to become the first player since Rod Laver to hold all four Grand slams simultaneously.
Everyone in the photo pit was hoping for and expecting a huge celebration from the Majorcan at match point, but after Nola double faulted at 30-40, Nadal simply sunk to the court then raised his arms in victory, in a show if real gentlemanly sportsmanship. After all, how can you celebrate your opponent’s double fault on this important point? Well done Rafa, this is why we love you.
Oh yes, what about that biting of the trophy thing ..in an interview for Time Magazine, Rafa told Kylynn Fontaine, “ I started doing it one day when I won my first tournament. I continued. I don’t know, I just prefer that to kissing the trophies. It’s one of my trademarks.”