The Tennis Space Olympic flag-bearers Miscellany:
Eight tennis players are expected to carry their flags into the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on Friday evening. It will be interesting to see whether carrying the flags – the ceremony is not scheduled to finish until 12.30am, and it will take at least an hour to get back across town to Wimbledon Village – will have an impact on their performances. The singles competition starts the next day.
When Maria Sharapova received the email asking her to carry the flag – she will be the first Russian woman to have the honour – she read it five times just to make sure that it was not a hoax.
It has been a busy summer for Marcos Baghdatis, who this month married the retired Croatian player Karolina Sprem – The Cyprus Mail reported that, “the happy couple rode to the church in a horse-drawn carriage shying away from the media with umbrellas”. Now the former Australian Open finalist is to carry his country’s flag at the Olympic Games, and the president of the Cypriot Tennis Federation has suggested: “I’m sure that Marcos’ performances on the court will improve now that he is married. He had a lot on his mind in the build-up to the wedding trying to organise so many things.”
Stanislas Wawrinka is only carrying Switzerland’s flag because serial bearer Roger Federer turned down the invitation, believing he had already had his turns after leading his country’s athletes into the stadium in Athens and Beijing.
Some had imagined that Victoria Azarenka, the women’s world number one, would lead Belarus into the Olympic stadium – instead it’s the men’s doubles player Max Mirnyi.
Novak Djokovic has said of carrying the Serbian flag: “We are all very excited about the Olympic Games in London, such a magnificent sporting event, and it goes without saying what a great honour it is for me to carry the flag.”
One reward for Agnieszka Radwanska after reaching a Wimbledon final was that she was selected to carry Poland’s flag.
Horia Tecau, a men’s doubles player, will lead Romania’s athletes into the stadium.
Stephanie Vogt, who was given a wild card into the women’s singles, will be carrying Lichenstein’s flag.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, only two tennis players were asked to carry their country’s flags – Roger Federer, of Switzerland, and Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez.
The one who missed out: Rafael Nadal. “It was the most difficult decision which I have taken in my career and possibly the saddest. It was a unique opportunity so obviously I am sad. My goal now is to continue to work hard to try to have another chance in Rio in 2016. I hope I will be prepared to compete there and have another opportunity to carry the flag,” said Nadal, who has been replaced by basketball player Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Also… It had been thought that Tsvetana Pironkova, the closest you will get to a grass-court specialist in the women’s game, would carry Bulgaria’s flag, but it appears that is no longer the case.