I am Stade Roland Garros the venue, the arena of French Open. Since 1891, I've been witnessing the battles of many a tennis player. Though initially I was a grass court, I got my feisty red clay garb in 1912. Many gladiators have had their conquests on my bosom. Though I remember them all fondly, some are very special to me.
How can I forget Max Decugis who won me eight times in a long-forgotten era; or Bjorn Borg who won six times or Henry Cochet who held me four times...Also there are a lot of warriors who came only for the love of me & did not like other surfaces much, like Gustavo Keurten...
Yet, you Rafael, my spanish knight are very very special to me. The day you put your foot on me in the year of 2005, I knew I was in love & I would never let you lose here & that you will be my best & most beloved conqueror!
I saw you play like a mighty warrior, reaching each corner of me, in a battle no knight in any armour has won over you. You moved, you served, you jumped, you pumped your fists to the boom of 'Vamos' & made me love you more each passing second.
You went on to become the first male player to win the French Open on his first attempt since Mats Wilander in 1982, and yes have never lost here till date.
To see you play is a pleasure but do you know what is the zenith of my emotions? It's when you win a match & throw your arms around me, embrace me, making me feel like each match is the final & you are the tournament winner!
I still have the feel of you when you won me for the first time as a teenager of 19 & I haven't quiet got out of your arms from the last year.
Now that the May sun is shining bright I've dressed myself in the finest Red Robes, awaiting your return one more time. Waiting to be conquered by you, my Gladiator. Longing for the feel of you on my red body.
Reclaim me this year Rafa, I'm all yours....
Lovingly & Longingly yours Stade Roland Garros