My friend Amy and I have a few major things in common. We both love tennis, hot weather, traveling and free stuff. Especially free stuff. Even if we don't really like it, if it doesn't involve us spending money, we'll generally get excited about it. With this in mind, you can only imagine our elation when Amy won $350 of Nike product for her and me through a competition on Nike's Facebook page. The only catch? We had to attend a tennis-related session at Nike at 4.45pm on a weekday. With all my time off work for the Australian Open, there was no way I could make it.
Thankfully, we managed to sort something out with the kind folks at Nike and my brother, Michael, was able to attend the session with Amy and pick up my free stuff. Turns out, the mystery Nike session was more than just showcasing products.
After some speeches that Michael and Amy practically tuned out for, Victoria Azarenka made her surprise appearance. Vika did interviews with Nike and the crowd, and turned out to be an in-depth, thoughtful interviewee. When Vika was asked how old she was when she started playing, and instead of just saying 'seven', she answered the question as fully as she possibly could. A particular highlight for Amy was when Vika talked about Olympics, (Amy is obsessed with the Olympics) saying that even though she won a gold in mixed doubles, her singles bronze medal means a lot more to her because she had been disappointed the day prior when she lost to Serena Williams.
After the chat Vika handed out Nike's gifts to everyone and posed for a photo with each person. She may have struggled with the Aussie names, but Michael described her as "a really cool person who came across as very genuine." Amy was more intrigued with Vika's pretty looks and nice jewelry, finding herself deeply envious of a bracelet in "the shiniest gold I've ever seen" hanging from Vika's wrist.
Vika then tried her luck at an Xbox tennis game. She chose to play as Rafa and then mashed buttons as she attempted to figure out how the hell to work the thing. She'd clearly never played Xbox in her life and managed to make contact with the ball rarely, winning approximately two points of the three games they played.
Not too gutted by her poor electronic performance, Vika signed autographs and posed for more photos before heading off for a Channel 7 interview.
I arrived home from work to find a bag full of Nike gear that I will wear on and off the court. Nike really know exactly what makes a fantastic prize, and Vika herself won over two new fans.
You can follow brand-new Vika fans @amyfulton and @limpfisch on Twitter. I take zero responsibly for anything they tweet.
-Kait O'Callahan, photos by Michael O'Callahan