Sunday, July 03, 2016

Scenes from Heathrow Airport

Garbine Muguruza sulks through Heathrow Airport, head down. It feels as though everyone was staring at her. They're always staring. They stare at the airport. They stare at Wimbledon while she gets outgunned by some kid no one ever heard of. Why are they staring at her? Don't they have smartphones or something?
She approaches the desk. "I'd like the first flight out of here, please."
The kindly woman smiles and rolls her eyes. "Wouldn't we all?" she says, and chuckles.
Mugu looks back at her blankly.
"Oh, it's a Brexit thing -- you wouldn't understand," the airline ticket agent says. "Never mind. Well, anyway, the next flight out is booked."
"OK," Mugu says. "I normally don't like pulling this, but do you know who I am? I won the French Open last month."
"Oh, I do!" the woman says. "It's just that the flight is booked." She gestures with a little head tilt and Mugu looks behind her. An ocean of tennis players stare back. Everyone with the staring.
"Don't expect me to give up my flight out of here," Petra Kvitova says. She's sitting in a chair. Next to her, there's a tennis bag in the trash can. "I don't even know why I come to this place every year. It's always raining!"
"Probably because you win it," Genie Bouchard says. "Lemme ask you guys: Does Cibulkova play a full schedule or does she just go to Slams to screw with the seeded players?"
"Oh. Do not even get me started," Kvitova says. "I coulda told you when the draws came out that Makarova was gonna be a problem. But everyone's all like, "Upset, upset! Whatever."
"Boy, you women. Always whining, whining," Stan Wawrinka pipes in from the other set of seats.
"The heck are you doing here already?" says Mugu.
"I just think it's illegal to play on grass, and if you have to play on grass, then you can't be allowed to ace everywhere," Wawrinka answers, gesturing wildly with his hands. "It's outrageous. And all that crowing from del Potro about wrist injuries. Yeah, right!"
"Dude," says David Ferrer. "Seriously?" Everyone mumbles agreement and Wawrinka begins absently reading his tattoo.
Muguruza settles into the second row of chairs and they fall silent. For a second.
"You know what I don't get," Grigor Dmitrov says. "Every year, they play this tournament at the rainiest time of the year, and are always surprised when we have delays. And instead of pushing it back, they just make us play more without rest. What do they expect? Don't the Americans have a saying about people doing the same thing and expecting different results?"
"They do," Ferrer says. "But are you referring to the organizers putting it on or the players who come?"
The ticket agent clears her throat. "Kvitova? Kvitova?"
"Yeah," she answers.
"Sorry, I need to put you on the next flight."
"What?" She shoots up from her chair.
The ticket agent shrugs. "We have another priority customer." The man in front of her turns around. It's Novak Djokovic.
The whole section of tennis players recoil.
"I don't want to talk about it!" he shouts.
The agent interrupts again. "I'm sorry -- I just heard that the flight has been delayed due to weather."
"Of course," Djokovic mutters. "Of course."

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