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Welcome Home To The French Open, Gustavo Kuerten
By Sandra Harwitt
Oh look up in the sky. What is that streaking across the sky: a bird, a plane, Superman. This time around it’s a plane. Whoever would have thought that Emirates Airlines would abandon Charles De Gaulle airport and make Roland Garros it’s Paris hub.
But that’s what seems to have happened.
Can’t wait to climb aboard that A380, take off and fly to one of the over 100 destinations that Emirates flies to around the world. Hoping I’m in first class — I hear you virtually get your own cabin.
Wait a second. Hmmm. That Emirate plane looks like it’s been built for munchkins. How am I going to get my overweight bags and me on board? And what’s that hanging below the plane? Certainly it can’t be safe to land a plane with as big an appendage as that underneath the planes belly?
Bad news for anyone who thought they could avoid the traffic out to Charles De Gaulle. This A 380 is no ordinary plane. It’s an exact replica of an Emirates A380 that instead of taking flight is a clever disguise for the aerial camera handling above ground views of the courts at Roland Garros.
Yes, riding smoothly along a wire without hitting any reported turbulence at 147 feet above the ground, the Emirates A380 aerial camera is around 8-feet long and weighs 132 pounds.No wonder it took two months to build.
This unique Emirates marketing tool is the latest genius of the airline that obviously is working to be the on-time airline of the tennis community. Their tennis portfolio is high profile and always expanding. Their latest deal is a five-year official partnership with Roland Garros. Already existing sponsorship agreements in place are with: BNP Paribas Open, Rogers Cup, Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and the Dubai Tennis Championships. They also are the overall sponsor of the summer U.S. Open Series that culminates at the U.S. Open. And that’s not all folks. Emirates has a five-year global partnership deal as the official airline of the ATP World Tour and is the title sponsor of the ATP rankings.
Pretty smart advertising considering that the international tennis circuit is just that: global. And it’s constantly on the move. Hey, if Emirates is good for famous tennis players it must be good for John Q. Public. Of course, famous tennis players are likely to be in at least business class or better yet first class, where Emirates has a reputation to spoil passengers with riches. I’m guessing that economy might have better service but a passenger will still feel squished in their seat.
But as for the model airplane here at Roland Garros, it is sticking to it’s flight plan. Nevertheless, if you’re mistakenly of the opinion that the A380 hovering around the skies over Roland Garros is doing so unobtrusively, Ryan Harrison says that’s not so. Into the fifth set after having a two-set lead on fellow American John Isner, the camera hung around Court 7 as Isner eventually prevailed 5-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 8-6.
“That camera moves a lot,” said Harrison, after he slipped away after a two-set lead to lose to fellow American John Isner 5-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 8-6. “It’s not just a camera, it’s an airplane, so it’s pretty big. I was trying not to get frustrated. I would look up and see it and just kind of smile. It’s one of those things where if you get frustrated and get caught up on it it’s just going to take you out of it.
“If it’s something happening like that, both guys have to deal with it. It’s not going to stop. It’s just going to happen. Only thing you can really do is just smile when it happens and giver yourself a second, let it stabilize, and just go for it.
“It’s just not easy when you see what resembles an airplane that close to you.”
But Ryan, think how convenient it could’ve been if it was a real plane. You could’ve hopped on board and taken off now that your French Open is over for another year.