They come from all over. The elite and the wannabe's, the pretenders and the real deals. They have all converged on the City of Lights, Paris, France, to play in the tennis worlds second Grand Slam of the calendar year. They come like overgrown children to play the sport they love on the crushed brick surface known to all as the terre battue.
It doesn't matter if you are injured.
You come and get the red dirt in your hair, eyes and lungs. You slide around on it because you know the reward is tennis immortality.
You come to prove that there is still greatness in your body and mind.
You don't care that the world will see what you are deep down inside.
It doesn't matter if everyone sees you turn yourself inside out. You're here to win, and to do whatever it takes.
Does it matter if commentators call you out of your name? Nope. Your fans, and fans of the sport know exactly who you are.
Do you care whether people like the dress you've chosen for this momentous occasion?
Does the dress play or you?
What does it matter that you answer questions no one was asking?
You may know what they're asking and continue to do what you want because you can.
You may show unexpected grace under fire.
Or find yourself in a match that will ensure your name is mentioned in those "were you there when" conversations of the future.
So what if what your part in the magnum opus takes place miles away from home?
You've arrived and the world has taken notice of you and your talent even if some of the home folk don't appreciate it.
The sun has set on Day 2 of the French Open. It's been called the Artistic Slam. I call it the Heart, Mind and Guts Slam. You need all three to stand triumphant on it's dirt.