My week with Maria

Today I went to the U.S. Open for the first time in my life. As I am and always have been a huge tennis fan, there’s really been no excuse as to why I have never gone before. The park is legitimately within 30 minutes of my house, and it’s not even really that expensive. However, I’ve never found the time to go.

So when my buddy informed me he had an extra ticket for the opening day of this year’s U.S. Open, and asked if I wanted it — it wasn’t a difficult decision.

My first thought after I accepted the ticket was, “I need to see Maria Sharapova play.” I have long been obsessed with Maria Sharapova. OBSESSED. I think she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. I’ve followed almost all her matches for the past five years or so, and I root for her as hard as I root for any other of my favorite sports teams.

Fun fact: she was also born 12 days after me. We are destined to be together. Like, for real. Except she’s engaged. To basketball reject Sasha fucking Vujacic.

Anyway, I immediately checked online and saw that Maria was indeed playing today, and that got me excited. However, her match was scheduled for Arthur Ashe Stadium, which is the main grandstand stadium in the park. You needed a special — and much more expensive — ticket to attend that arena, which we didn’t have. Oh well. It was upsetting, but at least I’d still get to see plenty of tennis. My first ever encounter with Maria would have to wait.

So we’re at the tennis center and having a great time. The sun is beaming, so much so that I was sweating extravagantly in my seat. We walked around for a little bit, catching some different matches, when out of nowhere it began torrential downpouring. In the blink of an eye, we had to run for cover.

The rain lasted two hours. I got soaked. However, when the rain lightened up a teensy bit, my friend and I walked around, and we approached the entrance to Arthur Ashe Stadium. We noticed that the security was a little lax during the rainstorm, and we saw that on the corner of the entrance barricade there was a slight opening. We carefully watched the attendant for about three or four minutes, who was standing about fifteen feet away, and picked the right moment to casually walk in. We did it.

We hung out in the arena for the final hour of the 3-hour rain delay, and we were still unsure if we’d even get to the seating area since we lacked the proper tickets. But lo and behold, it was our lucky day. We walked right on in and sat down in an empty section of seats in the closest possible section. But still, we figured that somebody would come in and claim them, right? And that we’d be kicked out of the arena, right?

Nope.

For a good four hours during once again beautiful weather, we watched Andy Murray, the fourth-ranked men’s player in the world, win in straight sets, and, you guessed it — Maria Sharapova.

It’s a weird sight when you see your biggest celebrity crush in person. I made sure I stood as close as I could to the entrance ramp so I can get the first glimpse of her when she walked into the playing court. I was as close as possible, merely feet away, when she emerged. It was like an angel descending from heaven. In fact, I panicked so much, that this is the picture I ended up taking.

Major, major choke job on my part. But if you look a the top middle of the picture, you can absolutely see Maria Sharapova’s shoes.

But anyway, we sat in about the sixth row, and then for the end of the match we even moved up to the first freaking row, and I came as close to Maria Sharapova as I ever have, and ever will. It was seriously awesome to see her up close and personal. She absolutely dominated the match in straight sets against some Hungarian chick, and all I can say is, wow, she is even more beautiful in person. God damn.

Here are some photos I got:

But seriously, everybody has celebrity crushes. We all have that one person who we know we’ll never meet, or even see in person, but like to imagine that one day we will.

So for me to actually get a chance to see her, and watch her do what she does best live, was a pretty surreal experience.

In fact, the closest I got to her was at the very end, when she spurned my autograph request following her victory.

Honestly, I don’t even care that I didn’t get her autograph. That I have documented video evidence that I was that close to her is enough for me. But to sum up, it was a pretty awesome day. I spent a good 10 hours at the U.S. Open, watching the top tennis players in the world compete, and also got to pay $9 for a beer.

Most importantly, Aug. 27, 2012 will always be known as the day that I snuck into Arthur Ashe Stadium and was within inches of Maria Sharapova.

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