Now, I'm not really a tennis watching kind of person. My (not so) vast knowledge of the game mainly stems from my childhood days of playing Tennis on our Super Nintendo and my college days of going to the court with my friends and pretending to know what we were doing.
Ian and I played together at our first apartment when we were first married, but played is a really loose term. We didn't know the rules and pretty much just treated it as a gigantic ping pong match, let's be honest.
So, when my friend invited me my first thought was one of reluctance. Then, when she told me it was at the palace and put on by one of the Sheikhas (princesses,) the decision was a pretty clear one for me. After all, it's not every day you get to go to a palace, right?
I mean, for a princess that is, but not for me!
So off we went, nervously giggling as we passed through the front gate and drove around the palace grounds to a parking spot. We were directed to the tennis court and the grand stands that had been set up there. Ball girls dressed in sparkly hot pants escorted us to our seats and national flags and noise makers were distributed.
The match started out with a laser light show (duh,) a helicopter fly over, and several patriotic clips. Nothing says Abu Dhabi like flashy and over done. I secretly love it.
The players were introduced and the Sheikha who was playing came onto the court. She was modest and seemed humble. The match started and the ball girls brought out continuous stream of hot chocolate, cappuccinos, fries, popcorn, and donuts.
I was really into catching up with my friend so I had to keep reminding myself to focus on the court! Ha. And who to cheer for? The choice seemed pretty straight forward.
The princess, of course!
She had put on this whole thing anyways.
After three games (matches? I'm still not sure on the terms. But almost two hours later,) the princess and her doubles partner won the tie breaker and there was an awards ceremony.
Afterwards, we were all invited down, out of the grand stands to a high tea served by a famous British tea house. At 10 pm. Why not?
My friend and I came down off the stairs and a hostess happened to see me and my enormous belly and offered us one of the few seats. We munched on fresh scones, jams, macaroons, and a plethora of appetizers and sipped on fresh lemonade and Moroccan mint tea.
All of this eating was going on while beautiful models in ball gowns were circling our tables, pausing to show off the diamond necklaces and earrings they were displaying for a famous British jeweler.
Nothing like a nine month pregnant lady stuffing her face with scones and lemon curd while a rail thin, six foot tall model pauses next to you for admiration to make you feel like a whale.
*crumbs fall out of open mouth*
Also, where are you supposed to look? I felt like I had to make and lock eye contact with them just so they know someone wasn't looking at just their jewelry or their dress. Like it was up to me to affirm each and every one of them as a human being.
We toured the Sheikhas clubhouse then my friend ran back into the grandstand to grab five sets of clappers/noise makers for our kids. (Because we are classy like that.) She then shoved them all into my arms so she could go up the princess and thank her in person for hosting the event. All while I nervously giggled in the corner.
It was a great night and I am so thankful for the experience of seeing another side of life and culture here!