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Yesterday was a day of intense Olympic haze. It began with a visit to an Olympics VIP Lounge thanks to one of my friends who has a Chase Visa credit card. Little did I know something like this existed, but I shouldn’t have been surprised knowing the exclusivity that comes with event like the Olympics. We had gone to this lounge thrilled that we would be getting free breakfast — as a student, there is always a massive excitement that comes with free food. We left with four free tickets to see the semi-finals of Olympic Tennis at Wimbledon. None of us had really been keeping up with Olympic Tennis, so we weren’t sure what we were in for. All we knew was that it was going to be one of the best days we’d spent in London.
As we walked up to Wimbledon, it felt like a dream. Earlier this summer the Wimbledon championships took place, and an event like that seemed so far off from anything I’d ever be able to attend. And now, I was walking into the grounds where those games had taken place. We had to go through airport-style security to get into the grounds, and once we were in we looked up at a giant board with the day’s order of play only to see the following names listed next to Centre Court — Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Andy Murray. We all looked at each other and literally jumped up and down out of excitement. We were about to see some of the best tennis players in the world, when an hour ago we were happy enough getting free breakfast.
The first match, Roger Federer against Juan Martín del Potro, had the audience on the edge of their seats for a solid five hours, but those fives hours flew by. Later I found out that this was the longest Olympic tennis match ever played. Second match — Serena Williams against Victoria Azarenka. This match wasn’t nearly as thrilling. Serena pretty much dominated the court the entire time. And the third match, Andy Murray against Novak Djokovic, was by far the most exciting match of the day.
It was clear from the moment that Murray walked on the court that he had home court advantage. The stands were filled with Brits. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many Union Jacks. Most of these Brits had spent the entire day drinking, drinking was allowed in the stands of the court, so by the time the match started they were rowdier than they had been all day. I couldn’t even count the number of time that I heard “C’mon Andy!” during the match.
And, boy did they take silence for their player seriously. If you made even the slightest noise during the game, you got a handfull of glares from the Brits surrounding you — unless you were a baby. One family had a baby with them that looked a couple of weeks old. Every time the baby made a noise, everyone looked at it, but then couldn’t resist its cuteness so they just smiled.
When Murray won the match, everyone in the stadium was on their feet screaming. Union Jacks were everywhere. The lights from cameras flashing where shining throughout the crowd. Murray, himself, looked like he was going to cry from happiness, and he was clearly soaking up the glory of winning this match at home. He couldn’t get enough of the crowd, and at one point he even just laid back in a chair with his hands over his face and listened to the cheers surrounding him. And his fans wouldn’t leave. They hung around until he left the stadium cheering for him with every move he made. Talk about a sports celebrity.
As we made our way home on the tube, I still couldn’t believe I had spent my entire day watching tennis at Wimbledon for free. I could go on about the politics behind those free tickets, and the fact that they were being handed out at a VIP Lounge for credit card holders, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that. All I know is that I was extremely thankful that I was in the right place at the right time to receive those tickets, and that seems to be the trick to getting tickets to a lot of Olympic events. I’m not sure if that really makes them “Everyone’s Games” as they are branded, but they are sure somebody’s games…
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