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Bill - Houston, TX | Read Bill's First Entry

Walking the grounds and listening to the crowds in the stadiums, the sounds of Roland Garros are different from the other Grand Slams. I've only been to the U.S. Open, where there's always a buzz in the air. I've heard that the Australian Open is the same way, but at Wimbledon, you can hear a pin drop. At Roland Garros, you hear spontaneous bursts of rhythmic applause - the crowd's way of encouraging the underdog. Or if a favorite is unexpectedly struggling - particularly if the player is French. The French also have perfected the art of jeering - a low-pitched whistle that tells you exactly what they think of a line call or a player's conduct. The jeering puts Yankee and Red Sox fans to shame. If Nicolas Kiefer had thrown his racquet during the point in Paris instead of Melbourne, he would know exactly what I'm talking about...

I see Maria Sharapova's father, Yuri, on the grounds walking to Maria's match. It looks like he's carrying a sack of French crepes. If he holds one up during the match, what will it mean? Surely Maria does not have any crepes in her bag...

Amelie Mauresmo looks relaxed during a practice session. If only Mauresmo could look equally at ease playing the later rounds of her home tournament, especially since she has the Grand Slam monkey off her back...

I have forgotten a lot of French, but I keep hearing "incroyable"(incredible). Fans are walking out of Court Chartrier shaking their heads in amazement after watching Roger Federer. Tennis is as much an art to the French as it is a sport. The Louvre is down the road, and they appreciate great artists like Federer. French players like Yannick Noah, Henri Leconte and nowadays Fabrice Santoro play with a certain flair. Is it in the French wine? You get the feeling that if Brad Gilbert had hailed from France, the French never would have embraced his junkballing "winning ugly"style...

Back at the food court, I bump into the Netheads, the group of American tennis fanatics who dress up in costumes to support the U.S. players at Davis Cup matches and other events. They have come to Paris for the first time and are glumly walking out of the stadium after the last American, Serena, has been eliminated. "Captain America"confides to me that Roland Garros is the first-ever tournament that they have not bought tickets in advance for the semis or finals. Despite the Netheads' pessimism (or is it realism?) about the prospects of an American winning Roland Garros, tennis needs more fans like the Netheads.