The French Open

June 6, 2011

On Saturday morning, Ben Blair decided it would be really amazing to attend the final match at this year’s French Open. It was between Federer and Nadal — who are quite possibly the best two players of all time. So he got to work searching every possible online source and around dinner time, we were proud owners of two tickets to the final!

Yesterday, we drove to Paris straight from church. Jordan and Paul generously took care of all six kids, while Ben Blair and I grabbed a taxi to Roland Garros. The stadium was very French — lattice work cement, orange clay, green seats and red geraniums lining the court. It was such a treat to be there! This is what it looked like about 30 minutes before the match started:

There were more geraniums dripping from the stadium exterior.

Lacoste has been a sponsor of the French Open for 40 years. They placed shirts on bronze statues throughout the park.

Here are Nadal and Federer setting up for the final point. If you watch tennis, you already know at that Nadal won. Federer was the underdog and the crowd favorite, but he’s never beat Nadal at the French Open.

They were both really fun to watch. The match was 3 hours 40 minutes of hard play with a 10 minute rain break in the middle — can you imagine how exhausted they must have been? I kept thinking of Nadal, who doesn’t speak French, and wondered if he understood what people were calling from the stands.

I think my favorite part about watching tennis, is how civilized it is. The crowd is completely silent during play and very respectful. The other thing I love is that tennis stadiums aren’t too big — so if a fan calls out something during a break, or one of the players grunts during a hard swing, the whole stadium can hear it clearly.

There’s something spectacular about all those seats filled to watch two people compete.

I can’t say I’m a hardcore sports fan, but I’m always up for attending any event that feels a bit historic — I’m talking life list worthy events. This definitely fit that bill. What about you? Have you ever attended one of the Grand Slam tennis events? What sporting event would you most like to see?

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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Giulia June 6, 2011 at 9:48 am

I’ve attended the French Open a couple of years back and loved it. I got a major sun burn but still had a lot of fun. I was a little sad that Roger was not able to beat Nadal again this time – as a Swiss Canadian I root for Roger Boy. You are wearing a lovely outfit by the way.

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2 tawnee June 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

so FUN! I’ve always wanted to watch a great equestrian tournament. Or a polo game. I love tennis games on clay though, so beautiful

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3 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I’ve always wanted to see a polo game as well!

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4 Erin June 6, 2011 at 9:50 am

Oh you two look so preppy-chic! Glad that you had fun. Thank you for sharing.

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5 Haydee June 6, 2011 at 9:52 am

What an adventure! So happy you guys got to have a day date too:)

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6 Kendra June 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

SO. JEALOUS. Looks like you had a ball!

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7 Miranda June 6, 2011 at 10:02 am

What a fun opportunity! My family all grew up playing tennis, and my mom still plays six days a week. You two looked great-like tennis fans:)

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8 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Six days a week? That’s so great! I’ll bet she’s fit as a fiddle.

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9 Julie June 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

Yes, I have been to a Grand Slam before: the US Open numerous times. As an avid tennis player and a New Yorker (the state, not the city), it was practically a requirement! As a French teacher, I have visited Roland Garros before, but not during the actual event. I just toured the grounds and the stadium. Bonus to going off-season–I got to sit in one of the chair umpire seats and took some of the clay off the court (shh…don’t tell).

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10 kelleyn June 6, 2011 at 10:24 am

Congratulations! That is so exciting! While I don’t follow tennis closely, I would love to attend a match at Wimbelton, The French Open, or even the U.S. Open just to say I did it. My husband and I dream of going to the World Cup someday.

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11 Efrat June 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

Wow, very exciting! Seems like a great day :)

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12 stacy June 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

Also interesting that the tournament is only called “The French Open” here in the States. According to my husband, who lived in Europe for 8 years, the French call it Roland Garros.

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13 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I noticed the same thing, Stacy. So interesting!

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14 diana June 6, 2011 at 10:38 am

OH my goodness! You are sooo lucky! I love tennis and would have jumped at the chance to go too, life is too short not to take up these kind of opportunities! Good for you both to go for it!
It must have been amazing and thanks for sharing the pics! Now the question is, what is next?
You do have to bring the children to Canada to stay one of these days!
I am still trying to work out how to get back to Paris this summer!

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15 rachel schindler June 6, 2011 at 10:47 am

Ohhhh!!!! How Exciting!!!!! I love watching tennis with Nadal and Federer. Love your blog and I love how I get to live in Paris through you. Also, love the posts on the home you are living in. I am soooooo jealous. Have a Wonderful week.

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16 Heather June 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

Good for Ben Blair for diligently tracking those elusive tickets! I am happy for you. And yay! for having a sister nearby to babysit!
I’d love to see Wimbledon. I’d also love to treat my husband to a Yankees game someday.

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17 Meridith June 6, 2011 at 10:54 am

Darn it, I was getting all jealous that you have something that neat to go to and then I realized that I’m not that far from the US Open. I can’t be jealous, I just need to get my man and go. My husband may or may not thank you for this.

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18 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

The US Open is worth the effort to get there. For sure! One big difference between the US Open and the French Open: you have to have tickets in hand to even get on the grounds at Roland Garros. Not true at Flushing Meadows. When we lived in New York, we would just head out to the US Open and buy tickets on the spot. Unless we were trying to see a specific (and popular) match, we could pretty much buy tickets anytime. And even if there weren’t tickets, we could still walk around the grounds, buy something to eat and generally enjoy the atmosphere.

At the French Open, there was no ticket booth at all. You had to buy the tickets ahead of time and bring electronic confirmation plus ID that matched the name on the tickets — so no transferring. We found that out the hard way when we showed up at Roland Garros weekend before last assuming we’d be able to pick up tickets there. Oops! : )

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19 Monica June 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

It is me and my Dad’s dream to one day do a whole extended family vacation at the World Cup!

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20 Susan June 6, 2011 at 11:04 am

I would love to attend the French Open…you witnessed a great match!

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21 sarah June 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

you two looked so preppy and awesome. my mom plays on a usta tennis team, so we are forever hearing about tennis and watching it. roland garros would be so fun to attend, but i would take any of the grand slams….
but in my heart of hearts i want to see an indy colts game–so there you go, i’m a huge nfl fan.

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22 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I hope you make it to a Colts game, Sarah!

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23 Patty June 6, 2011 at 11:10 am

It was a great match to watch on TV. I’ve been to Wimbledon, but I’ve never seen a finals match live. Looks like you had a fabulous time!

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24 Claire June 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

Very nice photo of the two of you. I had to smile when I saw you already got the addiction of French people for wearing a sweater over the shoulder! C’est très français :-)

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25 Marta June 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

I can’t play tennis very well, but Rafa Nadal plays it like a star. He’s so good! And I love the fact that he’s always so focused and serious and doesn’t like to loose control, even if he wins and wins and wins! Marta

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26 la ballena elena June 6, 2011 at 11:31 am

You’re so cute with the outfit!!!!
Proud to be from the same country as Rafa, he’s not just a winner but a gentleman

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27 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I’ll bet your country was celebrating yesterday!

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28 Michelle June 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

love your outfit.

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29 Steph Higg June 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

Hey there!! So great you got to be there! You guys are looking fab. Loving your French hair…enjoying reading about your adventures in France! Dave and I want to go to England when he turns 50 to watch a manchester united game! Take care,xo from Provo…

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30 Bettijo @ Paging Supermom June 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

I LOVE your pleated skirt. So pretty!

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31 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Thanks, Bettijo! I almost didn’t pack that skirt when we moved here, but thank goodness I did. I wore it when I spoke at Mom 2.0, I wore at our Easter party and it’s been such a great traveling skirt. Who knew?

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32 The New Diplomats Wife June 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

how exciting! and love the sweaters on shoulder look with pleated skirt – very classy ;)

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33 Alicia W. June 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

I think attending a grand slam tennis event is now on my life list.

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34 katy June 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

How absolutely wonderful for you two!! We watched bits of the final on TV. It must have been such an exciting match to see. My husband and I went to the French Open 13 or 14 years ago (before we were married.) We were on a post college Eurorail tour of Europe. My husband was and is a huge tennis fan and planned our visit to Paris around the Open. I just went along. I was so amazed at how much I enjoyed the experience. It was thrilling! And we didn’t even watch a final. But we did watch Monica Seles. . .remember her? We also just wore shorts and Tshirts – ah, to be young and naive. Now I have hopes of going to Wimbledon! Hey, maybe someday.

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35 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I totally remember Monica Seles! Too funny.

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36 elz June 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

When we lived in Britain, I wanted to go to Wimbeldon. We never got tickets . However, I did get to go to the BCS National Championship Game. I’d like to go again, but ONLY if this time my Longhorns would win!

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37 Jessica June 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Also not a huge sports fan, but a big fan of people at their best…I’d love to see one of these final NBS games. See my home team beat the Mavs. The energy in Miami now is crazy over the Heat. I bet a game would be so fun and intense!

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38 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm

“a big fan of people at their best”

That’s such a great way of putting it. Love that!

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39 Anna Lewis June 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I’m mostly a bandwagon sports fan. We support our local NBA team, but for me it’s mostly about doing something with hubby. He loves tennis and played a lot in school, so we definitely had the match on. We root for Nadal (because my hubby says so) I think just because he doesn’t have quite the status yet of Federer. Or something. They both seem like very upstanding guys, don’t they?

My dream is to take my husband to see a World Cup match – his true passion. If not the World Cup, the at least a Chelsea game in England. He would probably pass out with happiness. :)

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40 MMW June 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

So many compliments on your outfit.
What is the label? Where did you purchase it?
Please do tell!

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41 Design Mom June 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Hi MMW! The skirt is from Banana Republic — but I bought 2 or 3 years ago. The tee is by Kenneth Cole and the green cardigan is by Evie. I picked up both the tee and sweater last November.

Darn. That info is probably not very helpful. Sorry!

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42 Liz Stanley June 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm

American Apparel sells skirts just like that right now: http://store.americanapparel.net/rsapn300.html?cid=151

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43 Emily June 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm

What a fun outing! You both look adorable! You’ve got to take advantage of these unique experiences while you’re there! Keep on with it….we love to watch/listen/learn/explore/dream right along with you!

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44 Natalie June 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Oh that looks incredible! I agree — I’m not really into sports, but we got to see Tiger Woods play in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and it was absolutely incredible. (this was Tiger at his prime, pre scandal).

Oh and is that the blue pleated skirt from Zara? I’ve been crushing on it!

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45 Karen June 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Wow, that’s amazing! Seeing Rafa play on clay is such a legendary moment. And Roger makes it all seem effortless. Can’t think of a better match than those two! I’ve been to the US Open, which is awesome, and have my sights set on Wimbledon next.

That’s a lovely shade of cobalt as well!

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46 Design Mom June 7, 2011 at 3:25 am

It totally felt like a legendary moment!

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47 Sarah June 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

You look so pretty! I love the skirt!

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48 Anna June 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

My husband would be so very envious. Alas, we watched it all on t.v. We have an “empty nest” list of things to do with our children before they leave home and going to see a handful of professional sports events is on that list even though we are not a huge sports family. Wimbledon would be on the top of my list!

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49 Lakshmi June 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Hello !! U look really chic :) I attended.the Australian open last year .I saw the ladies semis . It was so much fun. It’s exactly as u describe – the court , the crowd. I live how organized the ball boys and girls are during the game and breaks . Unfortunately , rafa was sick , so didnt see him . My hubby has also been to thd U.S open .
Glad u enjoyed it .

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50 Lisa June 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I went to the US Open Women’s final in 2001 when Venus and Serena played each other. Wonderful, historic event. So glad you got to see Federer and Nadal!

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51 Design Mom June 7, 2011 at 3:26 am

Wow! That would have been something to see.

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52 Lisa Long June 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

How fun! We walked by Roland Garros and watched from the fences once. Someday I want to go to the Kentucky Derby wearing a fabulous hat!

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53 Design Mom June 7, 2011 at 3:27 am

Any event where I can wear a big hat sounds fine by me. : )

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54 Elisabeth June 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

What fun. My husband and I went to the Masters for the first time ever this year and had a similar experience–it was shocking to see such an enormous crowd being so incredibly respectful, both of the players and the traditions of the tournament. Surrounded by the lush azaeleas, eating a Masters pimento cheese sandwich, and dressed in my preppiest clothes, it felt like sitting in on a little piece of history.

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55 lilcg June 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I am amazed that you were able to get tickets! I spent my junior year in england and queued all night with my friends to get into wimbledon. we lucked out and were able to get centre court tickets, two rows back and right on the service line. we saw agassi and davenport, not playing against each other, of course :) we ate tons of strawberries and cream and our parents back in the u.s. were able to watch us watching the games. it was a perfect day and a wonderful way to end the year.

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56 Meggan Hayes June 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

This comment doesn’t have a lot to do with this particular post but the thought just popped into my head so here goes. You are lovely, and I enjoy your blog, a lot. When I say you are lovely I mean through your blog I get a sense of kinship eventhough we have never spoken or met. Sometimes mid-post I find myself saying (out loud even, and I promise I’m not crazy) thanks Gabi for that bit of advice. I live in Alaska on a small island and don’t leave often. I use blogs to “get out” in a small sense, every day, and yours is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing your life, and your family, and your spirit. :)

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57 Design Mom June 7, 2011 at 3:28 am

Wow, Meggan! What a kind thing to say. You totally made my day!

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58 Meghan Beutler June 6, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I”m so jealous you were there! I just finished watching the DVR’d match, and was disappointed that Roger didn’t take it. Tennis is certainly our favorite sport, and Federer is so classy and such an amazing player. I’m sure it was incredible to see this match in person. Way to take advantage of your time in France!

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59 Kholisa June 7, 2011 at 1:50 am

I had a similar experience watching a major Golf tournament in South Africa, we had really good seats at the final hole, and it was so civilised and grown up! I loved it. But the final at Roland Garros. Priceless!

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60 From Belgium June 7, 2011 at 2:38 am

Not a big tennis – or any kind of sport for that matter – fan myself, but my husband is dying to see the Olympic Games in Londen or a soccer match between two highpower teams such as Real Madrid or Barcelona.

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61 Design Mom June 7, 2011 at 3:29 am

Any sort of Olympic match is exciting to me!

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62 r8chel June 7, 2011 at 5:57 am

Wow – life list worthy indeed!

Have you written a life list? If so, have you posted it here, or would that perhaps not jive with the theme of your blog? Either way, I’d love to see it.

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63 Sherri June 7, 2011 at 7:39 am

Lucky you… What a match, I’m sure.

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64 Danielle June 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

I am so jealous! I’m a faithful tennis watcher and loved the match! Looks like you had a fun time!

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65 Bobbi June 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I’ve been to Wimbledon but not when the big tournament was playing. Our most major sporting event we have attended was when we caught the Tour de France years ago in Paris. We have become big Tour fans since then, as well as bicyclists, and watch every moment of the dvr’d Tour coverage. The scenery is worth the watching, alone. So glad you did a little carpe diem and went for it–that’s a life-long memory for you!

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66 Mary A. June 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I love that it seems like you guys are squeezing out all the best stuff possible about living abroad and truly capitalizing on the experience. How great for you all. Life is for living.

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67 Becca June 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

We love the Yale vs. Harvard football game. Not so much for the football, but for the DELUXE tailgate parties (plenty of fur coats and fine china!)

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68 Jen Russum June 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Love that you went to the French Open! I agree that civilized sports are kind of nice. I am all for a loud football game, but tennis will always be my favorite! (And you and Ben Blair look totally French in the pic!)

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69 Maria June 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm

How fun! I have been to Wimbledon a few years back and if you can you must attend! It is seriously so much fun and the atmosphere is AMAZING!!!

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70 Susana June 8, 2011 at 3:11 am

Ohhh my God!!! Nadal is so polite, and french people is so rude with him. He is a great guy. I don’t really know why thy hate him.

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71 Genevieve Gibson June 8, 2011 at 8:44 am

I would have loved to see that match! What a great experience for you two!

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72 Carrie Hill June 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm

So fun! While living in London in 1998, I attended Wimbledon with a group of friends for a day. It was amazing and certainly was life-list worthy. We dressed up, ate strawberries with cream, drank Champagne, and I brushed shoulders with Michael Chang. It was an amazing day.

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73 Jill Di Pietro June 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

We would have died to see that final. Where were you sitting? I’m still finishing watching the middle part on the DVR. Maybe I’ll see in the crowd. :) I’ll look for your green sweater. Federer is my husband’s hero. In his words “He’s a ballerina, a doctor, a master.” What he means by ballerina, in Spanish, is that he plays so perfectly- every move is precise with no wasted energy. Javi plays almost everyday and says he learns so much just by watching Roger. And the fact that he speaks perfect French is probably what the French love about him. They have a huge thing for people who can speak their language well. Rafa sort of slaughters it. I think “thank you” is the extent of his French.

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74 amy June 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

My husband played tennis for our college (and still plays occasionally…when he can find a suitable partner — fyi, it’s *not* me!), so for his most recent birthday, I got him a vintage Roland Garros poster. Apparently they have an artist design one every year to commemorate the French Open. Did you see them while you were there?

(I want to start a collection, but the old ones are kind of expensive…and VERY expensive to frame!)

amy @ glass confetti

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75 amy June 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

oops…that didn’t work for some reason. Here’s the link here: http://glassconfetti.blogspot.com/2011/04/art-collected.html

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76 handmadecharlotte June 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm

You know I love this post….and brag brag…can’t help it proud of them:) My brothers won The French Open in 93….That seems so long ago now…I love that tourney! My fav…Well I guess maybe the US Open…Oh I am not Sure every grand Slam is amazing…But the posters…that my mother collects from The French are amazing! That red dirt stained into your socks forever! and….you got to see the greatest tennis players on the planet! I love Roger FED! I asked him at Christmas…are you the greatest tennis player that ever lived? He answered….and love LOVE this quote…That is what the record books say! I asked him if I could use that line…love it! Did you get a poster? Well since you are close…you should try wimby..and some strawberries and cream….amazing…so classic…and that grass…it is insane anyone could play on it…go take a tennis ball and play in your front yard…cannot stand it…but…its sooooo pretty! That was quite the score on the tickets! Great article!;) You can’t tell that I loved it!

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77 Kadri June 12, 2011 at 12:23 am

It sounds fantastic! I would love to do this, too! We did do the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and had a time of our lives. We brought along our then 7 months old Annika and 3 yrs old Eduard and they did so well. I always hoped that one of these days I’d have a chance to go to the Games, however thought that financially it would not be possible. But it was very much possible and very reasonable with some homework.

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78 Eva / Sycamore Street Press June 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I went on study abroad to Paris, and was there during the French Open. I grew up playing tennis, and really wanted to attend, but couldn’t figure out how to get tickets! (This was before the internet was widely used.) I would still love to go someday… What fun that you guys were able to attend… and that it was the final between Nadal and Federer!

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