Sometimes, being a manic fan can the most rewarding affliction in the world. Waving the Swiss flag in 2006, cheering on Novak Djokovic in 2011 in mispronounced Serbian, raising a knee and fist in time with Nadal in 2010; all good. At some point, though, things take a turn for the worse. Supporting Federer now without losing your dignity? It’d be easier to show more grace running naked up the street. Vamosing on Nadal can’t be easy either, and yelling for Murray? Well, who said that’s ever been anything but bad news? But heartbreak won’t stop a true fan. These are the people that admit they’re a little obsessive, that take the good times with the bad, and don’t stop being crazy for their player just because times are tough. Chances are, we all have a little mad fan in us. Every week we take a look at one high-profile fan and analyze just how crazy they are...
Today you bring you a man who has sacrificed almost everything for Serena Williams, Diano.
Name: Diano Eko
Occupation: Event Organizer
Twitter handle: @tennis_updates / @diano_eko
Would take a bullet for: Serena Williams
Serena Williams is used to making jaws drop. Diano Eko, however, wasn’t expecting to be rendered utterly speechless the first time he set eyes on the American. Despite being encouraged as a child to watch beautiful tennis players such as Steffi Graff and Martina Hingis, Diano hadn’t yet fallen in love with tennis. But he finally found what he had been waiting for in 1999, when he watched highlights of a Williams sisters' doubles match, “I was like speechless. They played nothing like I knew how tennis was played (by women) before. It’s so powerful, fast, and fun to watch. Since then, I became a full time tennis fan.”
Being a ‘full-time tennis fan’ wasn’t always easy; at first, Diano had no access to satellite television or Internet and therefore had to rely on replays and two minute news updates. Still, Diano persisted and eventually it paid off; since 2009, he has worked as a commentator on a sports channel in Indonesia and runs a successful blog.
Diano manages another career as an event organiser and it’s a good thing he has an understanding boss. Diano shows little concern for his job when tennis clashes with office hours; at any given time during the Australian Open Series he can be found in his office with live streaming running and AO radio blaring. That’s if he even makes it into work; Diano has lied to his boss ‘so many times’ when there is a match on he just cannot bear to miss. Those matches usually involve Serena Williams.
Diano can be a little blind to Serena’s obvious flaws, and it seems a grand understatement when he suggests Serena could take her losses ‘a little more casually.’ When asked about Serena’s meltdown at the US Open last year, Diano brushes the incident off as ‘disappointing’. “She made one single bad decision, she’s a human. I can understand her,” he justifies, “She is a very competitive player. And sometimes she is too hard to herself, and it makes her do something controversial. And she is Serena Williams. People just love to blow everything up when it comes from her.”
Of course, no one blows Serena up more than Diano himself, “She’s everything you want to see from tennis. Even if you don’t understand tennis, you’ll simply just enjoy the level of athleticism, beauty, and entertainment she displays.”
After first laying eyes on Serena Williams in 1999, Diano knew he eventually had to see her live. Ten years later, Diano was finally in a position to follow his dream to attend the Australian Open. There was one small problem; Diano’s boss was less understanding of his new found passion and refused him the month off. For Diano, the choice between his career and his hobbie was a no-brainer - he resigned immediately and booked his ticket to Australia and the 2009 Australian Open. “Call me crazy, but I truly believed (the Williams girls) were gonna win, or at least one of them,” he explains, “And guess what? Serena won the singles, and Serena and Venus won doubles! That was like the best moment in my life. Everything was all worth it!” Thankfully, such wild dedication impressed his ex-boss, and Diano was offered his old job back at an even higher pay rate when he returned. It wasn’t long after his trip that he mingled his passion with a second career and took up commentating.
Diano attributes his brave decision to none other than Serena herself, “She taught me how to work hard for what you want. No matter how many obstacles you’ll face, if you work hard enough, everything will be paid off.”
Diano's favorite YouTube clip can be found here. It's called 'Serena Williams - Queen of the Comeback.'
How crazy is he?
Diano’s self-rating: 4
Our rating: 4*
1= Misses the occasional match
2= Has to explain to romantic partners that ‘tennis comes first’
3= Has been known to sacrifice basic life materials (food/water) to watch said player
4= Has drafted a biography on said player
5= Verging on stalker