You’re attending every Grand Slam tennis tournament for at least a year and writing about your experiences. Tell me more about this project and what inspired it...
I’m planning to do the trip in 2012 because that’s the year I turn 40. For as long as I can remember I knew that when I turned 40 I wanted to attend all four Grand Slams in the same year; so that’s something that has always been in my mind. Blogging is actually what I do for my business: I’m a web copywriter and I teach people how to blog and how to get the word out. By blogging about the Grand Slam I want to share my experience with anyone who might want to go to a Grand Slam later on and show the steps for how to get tickets, where to stay, how to get there and all those details, but also so people who may never get to go can have a glimpse of what it’s like to be there.
Are there big differences for attendees from one Grand Slam to the next?
I’ve lived in Melbourne for a long time now so every year in January I’ve gone to the Australian Open. I went to the French Open and Wimbledon for the first time two years ago. Each city is different. You get there a different way, there are different systems for getting tickets and good seats, and it’s a different experience when you actually get to the grounds. I particularly didn’t realize that; I just thought everything would be quite similar to how the Australian Open is in Melbourne. But actually each event is unique and has some special things about it. I’m going to do some video blogs and write up some things related to [the differences] and also share a bit about the culture of each city. So if someone did go to Paris for the French Open, [I’ll describe] what kind of food you can eat, what places there are to go on day trips and any other parts of the experience as well.
How long have you been into tennis and what piqued your interest?
Like many Australians, I can remember staying up to watch Pat Cash win Wimbledon in 1987. It was really late at night our time when he won it in London. Our family has always watched a lot of tennis on TV and I just started getting more and more into it. And then Melbourne Park opened here in 1988; if I’m in Melbourne in January I’ve been going to the tournament ever since. So for about the last ten years I’ve gotten tickets and gone as many times as I can.
I find tennis so inspiring because you need to be supremely fit but you need to be really smart as well. The men play for five hours sometimes and no matter how tired they are from running, they still give their all to every point. And that can still change in the last few games of the set. I find it amazing that the players have such good concentration and are so fit and strong that they can play for so long at such a high level. The big turnaround as well: you think it’s over in three and then someone just fights back and holds on for two more sets.
Are you planning to do any other travel in between the Grand Slams?
I want to do as many of the lead-up tournaments as I can. There are a lot of tournaments leading up to the Grand Slams that the players play in and get their good form, so definitely wherever the ATP tournaments are at the time. It’s the year of the Olympics as well so ideally I’ll be in London for the Olympics and some other trips to fill the time as needed.
Do you have any advice for people travelling to a Grand Slam?
Tickets are the key. Find out the inside track for how to get tickets. I was lucky enough this year that as part of my Australian Open membership they offered French Open tickets. So I was actually able to buy tickets at the face value of the ticket, rather than having to risk buying them from someone else. That’s a great service that the Australian Open provides. I think having the inside track for how to get good seats for good matches, ideally in the second week getting into the finals time makes a big difference in terms of the tennis that you’re able to see.
Have you ever travelled long distances to see a favourite sporting event? Or do you just love tennis? Share your experiences or any questions for Mel in the comments below.