Recently a lot of incredible people have been sharing their experiences and tips for attending Grand Slam tournaments with me, which I am incorporating into the Grand Slam plan for when I attend the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open later this year.
One of these peeps is Steph (@StephinNZ) who successfully completed the tennis fan slam in 2011.
I love Steph’s story because she didn’t set out with a definite “I know I can attend all four Grand Slam events this year” plan. She just went for it and all the right planets aligned for her to do the Fan Slam, plus attend the Davis Cup final and the World Tour Final.
I recently interviewed Steph about the Fan Slam. Here’s what she had to say…
What inspired your love of tennis?
I remember seeing a picture of Andre Agassi when I was 13. I was playing tennis at the time and started to notice the players who were a bit older than me on magazine covers. I just started watching a bit and it kind of kept going… then I was keeping scrap books (it was the early 90s).. and I started getting the tennis mag from the library.
Because I’ve lived overseas for the bulk of 14 years in some places it was hard to watch much tennis on TV, so there have been waves of watching a lot and not watching much but over the last 4 years I’ve been able to dedicate to tennis being a full time hobby.
How did you end up doing the Fan Slam in 2011?
I started thinking about it a few years ago. At that point I had been to AO a few times and had been to the USO so it didn’t seem unattainable to get to all the slams but I didn’t think it would ever happen in the same year; money and needing to have a job were the deterrents.
I did the AO last year for 2 weeks and then thought no way would I get to the French Open. But I decided to go for it and someone on Twitter gave me a ground pass. My brother is in England so I just decided to go and save as much money as I could. Then it turned out that friends wanted to go to Queens and Eastbourne and Wimbledon.
At that point when I had been to 3 slams I thought surely there is no way I can go to US Open. I had spent all my money and had no job.
Then I got a social media job with Tennis Auckland and was able to go to the US Open with tournament credentials which was just an amazing experience for a tennis fan. As I walked over the bridge from the No 7 line on my first morning it fully hit me. I realised “this is just unreal that I was able to do this… it was fate… the tennis gods smiled on me”.
What were the highlights of your fan slam year?
- Getting on Centre Court at Wimbledon and seeing Roddick play Hanescu. I had been through the queuing process and ended up with Court 1 tickets and then a friend reminded me about the ticket re-sale (people who are leaving hand their tickets back and they are resold). We queued for that and got Centre Court and saw two full sets of play. That was my last day of tennis for the Wimbledon trip and was a great highlight because I never expected to get Centre Court seats.
- Seeing Rafa practice at Wimbledon, he walked right by me (GSG’s comment: no further explanation needed!)
- Finding out that the Spanish team’s hotel was close to me when I went to the Davis Cup. I stepped outside my hotel and saw that the hotel was over the road and within 3 minutes I saw Rafa. After the Spanish team won I saw them come out in the hotel in their suits and watch them get on to the bus.
- Going to everything on Rod Laver Arena from the quarter finals to the finals at the Aus Open. Plus I have to mention Schiavone v Kuznetsova at Hisense Arena… it was the longest grand slam women’s singles match ever and it was the only time I’ve been inside Hisense.
What are your best tips for people attending tennis Grand Slam events?
- You need to have patience and endurance to watch endless hours of live tennis day after day!
- Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist, you’re stinky and hot but don’t worry about it. Bring the stuff that helps you enjoy the tournament, be prepared and don’t worry about how it looks. Bring the essentials.
- You’re only human, you need to handle the conditions; rain, heat, annoying fans and everything else, but don’t worry if you need to have time out and take a break. You don’t have to sit in your seat all day for fear of missing out, you need to have breaks.
- People don’t always use their tickets for the whole session – at the USOpen I was able to watch matches on Arthur Ashe when people wanted to watch a match on another court. Use social media to find opportunities.
- If you are dead set on seeing a match there are ways to get tickets
- Make an investment and get a really good camera – that’s one thing that I regret not doing.
Would you do in all again?
In a heartbeat 🙂
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal
Follow Steph @StephinNZ and I have a tennis addiction
All photos were sourced from Steph’s blog
Thanks for your comment Kimmi, I remember that too, when Stef was staying near Rafa’s hotel for the Davis Cup final. Sharing those kind of moments is one of the things I love about Twitter too 🙂
Kimberly Lussier says
I hope the “mail” category was email…Fan tastic story and I became a Steph fan while she was doing her tour. I believe it was world finals and remember her tweeting that moment she discovered she was staying at hotel accross st. from Rafa. She was so excited thru all of it and welcomed sharing that with those of us at home that I personally felt like a part of me was there. I won’t ever forget Steph’s 2011. I only wish I had gotten my tweet on sooner and joined more of the ride.