Tennis Star Vera Zvonareva Blogs Paris and the French Open
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Guest blogging from Paris for the Daily Traveler is international tennis sensation and UNESCO ambassador Vera Zvonareva. Over the next several days Vera will be sharing her favorite Parisian spots and offering a peek or two into what life on the road is like for a professional tennis player at the top of her game. Take it away Vera!
by Vera Zvonareva
I have been in Paris a few days now, preparing for the second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open at Roland Garros. I love being in Europe at this time of year-- spring is in full flow, and it just feels like the right time of year for tennis. Paris in particular is one of my favorite cities, although I have only had a small window to see the city and that has just been through a car window!
I have been staying at a tennis center in the leafy suburbs. Here I have been doing light training and have had a lot of treatment on an injured ankle, working hard to be fit for Roland Garros. I desperately want to play, having been forced out of action on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour since the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami in March. You probably have no idea how frustrating it is for professional athletes to be kept from the thing that drives them. I couldn't begin to put it into words, but tennis players accept that injury is part of the job and have to manage their mindset accordingly.
I got my first proper glimpse of this beautiful city on Wednesday when I was traveling to UNESCO's headquarters. Here I attended a press conference announcing me as a new Promoter for Gender Equality, an ambassadorial role for the UNESCO-Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Partnership. It means a huge amount to me to have been chosen for this role, helping women and girls fulfill their full potential, striving to be treated and respected on an equal plane with men. Tennis has given me an incredible life, allowing me to make all of my own choices. Hopefully in my work for UNESCO, I can help do that for other women around the world.
After the conference I was given a tour of the UNESCO building, which has a dynamic interior and is well worth a visit. The walls are covered in art from all over the world, with the pièce de résistance being a mural by the Spanish artist Joan Miro along one of the original foundation walls. Visitors are free to touch it, and it really sets the tone for this incredible educational organization. And there's great views of the Eiffel Tower too!
In the meantime, it's back to treatment and training. I move into a Paris hotel tomorrow, and I have a fashion shoot to do at one of the great old sporting clubs of France, Paris Racing Club, a green oasis right in the heart of the city. More on that in my next post!