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May 29, 2009

Vera Zvonareva's Paris Picks

Vera Zvonareva
Vera Zvonareva discovers that being
injured in Paris in the spring has its
advantages.
Photo: Ben Wyatt

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 glimpse of 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 hoped I would be blogging this from the player lounge in the bowels of the Stade Roland Garros, having successfully navigated my way through a few sets of hard, dirt-track tennis and into the third round of the French Open at Roland Garros.

Unfortunately, my worst fears, which I had tried to banish with a positive frame of mind coming into this Grand Slam, were realized late on Monday when I had to withdraw from the championship. My ankle just isn't quite ready for the rigors of two weeks on clay, fighting against the best in the business for one of the four top trophies in tennis. Despite intensive treatment, there weren't enough seconds on the clock to get me to the start line.

What this did mean was that I would have a little more of what every player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour guards preciously: free time, and in the great city of Paris. I told you on my first post how I love the French capital, especially in spring. For the first time in years, I would have a chance to stroll--well, hobble--around.

Actually, I did something I rarely do: ride a bike (a great way to keep my fitness level up without straining the ankle). This was a fantastic way to get around in Paris, since they have Vélib', this cool system of public bikes parked on many of the rues. You drop a few euros in the coin slot and a bike is yours for however long you want, and all you have to do when done is return it to one of the stands.

From the hotel, I rode straight to the Eiffel Tower, which dominates the skyline from any view. It's impressive from afar and stunning up close. I biked down a pathway along the Seine and out to the Bois de Boulogne, the green lung of Paris--all under a brilliant blue sky.

There are only two other things the girls on the Tour value as much as free time: their phones and fashion. For that I had to visit the famous, signature Louis Vuitton store in the city center. Grand, historic, and stylish, it is a window on the soul of this town.

I did my bit for the fashionistas on Tour by doing a photo shoot for London's Sunday Times Magazine last week at the Lagardère Paris Racing Club Croix Catalan. Have a look at the pics I got someone to take with my phone. A beautiful day, fabulous dresses, killer shoes, and one of the few grass courts in the city should make for some great photos coming out just before Wimbledon starts. (Which is where my mind is now. London is calling and I'm desperate to be fit and competitive for that wonderful traditional tournament at the height of summer.)

Bye for now. Thanks for reading, guys!

Further reading:
* Vera Zvonareva's first post: Training and touring in Paris
* Story: The Cradle of Paris
* Story: Isn't It Romantic?
* Video: Bicycling in Paris

Scenes from the photo shoot after the jump.

Vera_Zvonareva_paris_2
While I admire the view of the Eiffel Tower, photographer Joachim Ladefoged snaps some shots for London's Sunday Times Magazine.
Photo: Ben Wyatt

Vera_Zvonareva_paris_3
I like what I see.
Photo: Ben Wyatt

Vera_Zvonareva_paris_4
I'm feeling a bit like a lawn ornament here . . . .
Photo: Ben Wyatt

Vera_Zvonareva_paris_5
With the crew.
Photo: Ben Wyatt

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