Every once in a while it’s nice to put the snark and bitterness aside and just tell a heart-warming story about the sport. And since we’re all fans here, we thought we’d start a Fan Fare series, where fans share nice encounters with players. Have a story to share? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was first “introduced” to Katrina Williams when the New York Times did a profile on her at the US Open. An avid tennis fan, Katrina (@ReturnWinner) has spent the last year traveling the globe watching tennis. This month her travels took her to the World Tour Finals, where she met up with fellow long-time Novak Djokovic fans Kate Langley (@NoleDjokerFan) and Nussaibah Raja (@sun4ra). The three friends gathered at the pier by the O2 arena every day to wait for Djokovic to arrive for practice or for a match, and since they were surrounded by a sea of Murray and Federer fans, they stuck out. After a few days they began to develop a rapport with Team Djokovic. I’ll let Katrina take it from here:
We were meeting him and his team and we somehow developed this relationship with them; Marian (Vajda, Novak’s coach) would laugh at us and say “again again”, Miljan (Amanovic, Novak’s physio) would wink and Dusan (Vemic, Novak’s hitting partner) would wish us good morning, stare blankly and smirk. Every morning, Novak would come over bouncing happily around and talk to us.
On Saturday, when he was coming into practice, he stopped to speak to us as usual with his cheerful “Hellooooo!”. As we were talking to him, he asked if we were watching any matches on that day – we told him we didn’t have any more tickets. He was totally shocked – so he just told us not to worry and that he would speak to his agent to get us some tickets. When we went to his practice, his driver/security guy came over, took our names and dates of birth and said they’d sort it out. Back at the pier, when Novak was going out, he told us that everything has been arranged and to pick up the tickets from the “will call box” the following day for the Djokovic/del Potro semifinal match.
The seats were really good, we were in the Tennis Family section which I guess is reserved for the players’ guests. Later on after the match, we saw him – we actually got promoted from “Hi Girls” to “Hi Ladies” – and asked us if the seats were good and if we had tickets for the final. We didn’t, so he said “Well, same thing as today then.” He also said he was looking out for us in the crowd which was totally charming.
The seats for the finals were even better than the previous day. On his way to the final on Monday afternoon, he looked very rushed and a bit stressed but he still came over to us and gave us all a high five; we managed to wish him good luck! The best part of all was that we never asked him or expected anything. There was no cameras around, other than that of a friend who just wanted us on video when we met him since something embarrassing always happens – I doubt he even knew it was being recorded. Bottom line, that wasn’t a publicity stunt or anything.
Thanks so much to Katrina, Kate, and Nuss for sharing their story!