The first professional tennis tournament I ever went to – or professional sporting event of any kind – was the 2002 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University in Palo Alto. My dad and I drove from my Grandma’s house in nearby San Jose for an evening session featuring Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova, and my giddy 16-year-old self mistook all the well dressed 20-something guys in the crowd to be Bay Area gays. It wasn’t until later on in life that I realized they were all just metro straight guys there to watch Kournikova. A boy can dream.
The following night, I ventured to Stanford on my own, scoring a second-row ticket for the evening session that featured Monica Seles and Kim Clijsters on two separate courts. But before I went into the stadium, I took to the grounds, milling about and taking in the sights and the sounds of the tour that I had long dreamed of in my back alley as a kid.
While walking along the corridor of sponsor booths, I felt someone’s hand press against my side gently, and as I turned to see who it was, a large man pushed his way past be. I turned back around to try to understand why he had put his hand on my side, and realized he was escorting a well-known tennis gal through the crowd: Kournikova.
In the time that I realized what had happened, the moment was gone, and Kournikova – cap pulled tightly over her face – made her way through the crowd with little notice, thanks to the shadow the large bodyguard was casting over her.
My run-in with Marat Safin this week reminded me of my first tennis bump-in eight years ago. It also got me wondering: Which tennis player would you like to bump into in a casual setting the most? The least? Let us know in the comments section.