I thought that since we are all in a “Roger Drought” at the moment you might like a fan experience to fill in a few moments. You had suggested I do this quite a while ago but I (obviously) didn’t get around to it until now.
I have been a devoted (get up at 3:00 am to watch) Fed fan for years but unlike you and most of his fans, I have never played a game of tennis in my life. I only became a tennis fan after seeing Roger play (on TV) a few years ago. Since then, and like millions of others, to see him play in person has been on the top of my “bucket list”. Unfortunately, traveling around the world to accomplish this required more “drops” in the bucket than I could manage.
However, The Rogers Cup whether in Toronto or Montreal is attainable for me and I have been several times but I must have jinxed Roger as he has canceled every time I was there – until last summer.
I took my granddaughter Grace with me to Montreal for some “her and me” bonding time and of course to see Roger. She is a sports “nut” studying same at College, loves Roger, plays soccer, golf and is on her College hockey team (we ARE Canadian after all ) and the fact that The Great One, Gretzky, was in the crowd was a bonus. We had tickets for the Monday and Tuesday day and night sessions, sure that Roger would be playing one of them. I was secretly hoping for Monday the 8th, his birthday, but he was out celebrating without us on his special day. However, ta-dah, Tuesday we lucked in.
It was a beautiful, hot sunny day, we had good seats and he was the first match of the day. He was playing fellow Canadian Peter Polansky and although the stadium was not filled at the start it didn’t take long and the crowd was definitely into Roger, thrilled to have him back and loudly showed their appreciation even though he was playing a local guy. The match was pretty much a foregone conclusion but watching Roger in action, in person, is soooo much better than on TV. I am not spending too much time on the match, not because it wasn’t worth waiting for, but because for us the best part came later!
After the match, we went to get a bite to eat and came across the (small) Lindt chocolate (one of Roger’s sponsors) booth where they were giving away sample truffles. We got in a short line to get our freebie dessert when a young lady came out and told us this was not the line for chocolate but if we wanted to stay there Roger was coming over in a little while to sign autographs! It was sheer chance that we happened to be there. There was no advertising or talk of any sort that Roger was going to be coming around. Of course, it was a no-brainer so we stayed in line and chatted with others that were waiting. A little while later the same lady came out and told us that Roger had asked that there be “no pictures”! Autographs yes, pictures no. We were quite surprised and disappointed, to say the least. We waited a little while longer and decided we were too old for just autographs (I know, I know, brain cramp!!) and we decided to leave and go back to watch our unknown (at that time!) Denis Shapovalov take on Del Potro (whom I now officially dislike and will happily cheer for any of his opponents, (except Nadal)).
Shortly thereafter, however, we saw the error of our ways and hurried back to get in line again and wait for Roger. He arrived on a golf cart surrounded and I do mean surrounded by (presumably) security staff and was ushered into the booth. Soon after he arrived the same young lady came by and asked/told us if we had iPhones she would take pictures with them for us once inside. We happily handed over our phones when we got in and the photo I have attached is of my granddaughter after Roger autographed her RF hat. Her reaction, as well as Roger’s, tell the story. I have a similar photo of myself with Roger!
Roger in person is the epitome of class and charm! We shook hands, and he chatted with me as if there was all the time in the world as if there was no queue, no rush. I wished him a belated happy birthday, he thanked me, signed the Lindt chocolate poster that he was giving out, asked me if I wanted him to autograph the programme that I was holding in my hand ( now hanging on my office wall) and – away we went back to the Shapovalov – Del Potro match starstruck like teenagers (OK for her but I’m an old lady and I was still starstruck!) Definitely not my usual nature but after all it WAS Roger! When the DelPotro match was over Roger was still signing autographs. I have no idea how long he stayed but it was after dark when we left and to the best of my knowledge he was still there doing his thing. As an aside we also saw that young upstart Shapovalov defeat Nadal 😀
Aside from his awesome talent on the tennis court, Roger is a truly remarkable human being. His sincerity and the fact that he REALLY likes people show when you watch him interact with his fans. If it is not real he has a great future as an actor.
My problem is now that I’ve seen him play and met him in person, doing it again is back on my bucket list. Damn!!