OK, so some details...
Went to Halle on Saturday with my friend who is not much of a womens tennis fan. He joined me just cause he wanted to see Steffi play, but on the train I kept on telling him how great Steffi was
By the time we got there, he was totally sick and tired of me and my fanboy antics. There was an old lady on the train sitting in front of us and she could hear us talking about tennis and Steffi. At one point, my friend told me there was no huge superstar in womens tennis like a Federer or a Nadal.. and that lady turned and said 'ohh today you will see how big of a star is Steffi Graf'. Luved it!
Got to the stadium, and the first thing i noticed was the giant poster at the entrance.. (the one djul posted) And I had the same exact sentiments.. 'Steffi Graf.... and some other not so important ppl'
Just wandered around the stadium. Saw Hewitt,Troicki, Aisam Qureshi and Goerges near the players hotel. Saw some quali matches.. Muster was a lot of fun. Saw Heidi Graf going towards the players area, got all excited and told my friend 'oohhhh there is Heidi' and he was like... 'whos that' I rolled my eyes and told him 'Steffi's mom' . He gave me that 'you really need to get a life' look.
Before the match, Leconte made an appearance for the public. He was really funny on the stage. Signed a lot of autographs afterwards.
Waited outside the players area for a loong time ,waiting for Steffi, but then a security gaurd told us she had already left for the stadium. Decided to go in. Was disappointed with my seats. I knew our seats wud be crappy, but didnt expect them to be THAT crappy! but still, I was all excited... Afterall, I was gonna watch STEFFI!
Players started arriving, first up was Henri Leconte.. He went straight up to Heidi for a kiss. After him it was Goerges' turn and then Kafelnikov. Then I saw a blonde woman in awesome shape slowly appear on the entrance gate. My friend asked me if it was Steffi Graf. We cudnt properly tell from our seats, but I told him, looks like her, but cant be, I mean Steffi never wears pink!
SO we assumed it was some tour official or sumthing. I leaned forward to see where Steffi was, and thats when I realised.. That woman in pink WAS infact Steffi Graf! goose bumps!
Then the highlight of the evening... Steffi's name was announced, they introduced her as (one of) the greatest female tennis player(s) , the greatest female german sports star etc etc. When she finally stepped on the court, there was a loud cheer followed by a standing ovation with Tina Turner's "simply the best" playing in the background. It was AMAZING! 12000 ppl on their feet, clapping in unison... that lasted for almost 5 minutes. Steffi was clearly moved. She acknowledged the crowed, but the applause kept going on and on! gave me goose bumps.. finally the applause finished and we sat down. I turned to my friend and before i cud say anything, he said 'WOW, that was something'. He was all emotional and excited. It was that good an applause. He had goose bumps too!
The match was fun. Leconte was the main entertainer, joking through out. Everyone laughed with him. Steffi was really nice. She smiled through out. Played pretty well.. her forehand was awesome. Looked stronger than Goerges' and Leconte's. Hit some great forehand winners. Served well too. I remember atleast 3 aces, 2 against Kaflenikov..
At one point a bug crawled on the court. Steffi and Henri put in quite an effort to get it out of the court safely. But just when they thought it had gone, the bug appeared again. The laughed and then decide to let it stay there. Henri bowed to Steffi, everytime she hit a forehand winner. Overall Steffi played quite well. They won the third set tie break 11-9.
After the match, we moved down from our seats and took some slightly better seats. I wanted to take an autograph so decided to go out early so we cud catch Steffi leaving the stadium. Turned out, everyone wanted an autograph and by the time I got to the stadium exit, there was a loooooong queue! Waited for about 15 minutes, then finally Steffi appeared. I was quite far back in the queue so cudnt really reach her, or see her properly... Got me pissed!
Also, my friend was like 'its just an autograph, chill... just stay here and maybe you will get it, if u dont.. watever'
I tried to be all civil. But then I was like, screw it... this maybe my last chance to really meet Steffi upclose, so I kinda pushed my way through the queue
Found a spot which was much closer to the players, quickly went there and started hoping for Steffi to come there. My friend stayed back. At that point I didnt care , infact I had almost forgotten abt him! So, after a few minutes (and a lot of yelling) Steffi finally came towards the place where I was standing, my heart skipped a beat! and thats when i realized, I didnt have a pen, or a paper for that matter
I was like 'F***!!!!' and just then a couple of women pushed their way infront of me... UGH.. I checked my pocket and luckily found my ticket in there... Saw Steffi holding a pen, so I was like.. OK dont need a pen and paper, now if only i cud get to the front... The women in front of me managed to get Steffi's autograph and were decent enough to leave the queue after that. It was now or never..
I pushed ppl.. prolly some kids too
and finally landed infront of everyone! YAY... and there was Steffi... right infront of me... I tried to take a pic... but cudnt focus...
then just tried to hand my ticket to Steffi... She finally took it.. While she was signing it, I said all kinds of things ..like " I am a HUGE fan, Womens tennis is not the same without you, We miss you etc etc etc... hahaha... I dont even remember! Steffi smiled and said thank you. She must've thought I was some idiot! Then she signed some more autographs and before leaving she wanted to return the pen she had in her hand.. she just looked at me and said 'stift?' (pen?) I was over the moon!
Told her it wasnt mine. She gave it back to the person whos pen it was and left.. I left the queue, totally thrilled! Saw my friend standing at the back, waiting for me... As i approached him, he showed me his ticket.. turns out, when I left my original spot in the queue, a lot of other ppl left as well... and my friend went ahead and got an autograph. Damn! I am so glad I got the autograph, otherwise, if I had returned empty handed, to watch my friend with an autograph...wudve been UGLY!
Overall an AWESOME experience.