Thursday, August 19, 2004

Greek tennis fans. They're passionate sorts.

Venus serves up a treat for Robin
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

Morning. So last night we went to the tennis at the main Olympic complex, which also houses the aquatic events, the big athletics stadium, the gymnastics and the velodrome. It's also the home of the massive Olympic superstore selling all kinds of Olympic stuff. Tip: If you happen to be in Athens, the girl's T-shirts are way more stylish and imaginative than the women's ones - they're also much cheaper and the sizes are big. An age 12 is easily big enough for my (rather older than that) fiance.

The actual complex is enormously impressive (well, if you ignore the massive McDonalds), full of all kinds of amazing archway walks and fountains and the like. Feels really special being in there - like you're at the centre of the Games. Which, I suppose, you are. I'll take some pictures when we're there next so you know what I'm gushing about!

So, to the tennis. After watching Venus Williams lose to Mary Pierce on Court 1 - that's Venus behind Robin; budding tennis players, note how high she throws the service ball (you can click on the pic to make it bigger) - we headed to the Centre Court where the local Greek hero Danilidou was playing a Russian who (according to the Greek woman sitting next to us) knocked Serena W out of the French Open.

Problem was, only people with centre court tickets (like us) could get into centre court, and every Greek in the tennis complex wanted in. You can get right up to the entrance gates without a ticket - you can actually see the whole court from there - and, once the game started, there were loads of Greeks without centre court tickets loudly demanding to be let in to fill the seats they could see were empty. Such was the shouting match continually going on at the gate just behind us that they had to stop the game a couple of times, because the players couldn't concentrate.

Clearly Greeks aren't as up on the decorum of tennis as we Brits (who are great at the decorum but rubbish at playing the actual sport). As well as many of them sitting chatting on their mobile phones throughout the game, the massive Greek following were starting chants and songs between every point, often forcing the player they were supporting to have to wait for them to finish before she served!

The Russian fared even worse from it. As it became clear she was going to win, (she won 7-5, 6-4 in the end) the Greeks started to whistle her as she threw the ball to serve. Then, every time she put a first serve into the net there was massive cheering like Greece had just scored a winning goal - and you should have heard them whenever she double faulted! Definitely an unusual, though enjoyable, tennis experience.


Anonymous said...

Yeah a bizzare and highly unusual game! for the 80% of the greeks there, this should have been their first attendance to an actual tennis court, me included. probably we should apologize to the players there:)

anyway the russian girl i think won Rolan Garosh this year and it is no 3 in this particular time. Daniilidou also was playing with an injury from yesterday game against a Bulgarian player!

Anonymous said...

I would like to ammend my entry into your contest (I don't know if this is allowed, but I'm going to try - we aren't known as pushy Americans for nothing!) I would like to change my guess to 24.5 euros.

I would also like to enter a guess for how much 2 pounds of birdseed would be - for Robin, because he has to be hungry after getting his picture taken so much! I guess 3.5 euros for the birdseed. LOL

Your blog is highlight of my Olympic experience - thanks for the time and work put into it!

KJ in the USA

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