May 21, 2013, 9:23:29 AM

Buying souvenirs at a big tennis event is always a bit of fun and a nice reminder of the event. Probably the most prized souvenir would have to be a player towel ... or even a player's towel.

When any of us go to a tennis tournament, be it big or small or Grand Slam size, you would like to leave with a souvenir of your time there; something to remember the day, a memento. Whether it be a cap or a t-shirt or even just a key ring, it’s a reminder of what would have been a great day watching glorious names in action on court.


But, did you know the tennis players themselves like to souvenir as well? Oh gosh yes. It is all very funny to see them collecting. It is almost like a game for them because the No.1 souvenir item for a tennis player is the tournament towel. No, no, I’m not kidding. I’m not talking about plain white towels, how boring, no, no, the towels with the event logo etc on it.


And the No.1 event? Well, take a guess. 


On the main show courts of this event the rather uncomfortable looking green canvas and metal tubular player seats have the towels draped over the back of the chair waiting for the players to arrive on-court. 


There is one colour for the ladies and one for the gentlemen players, although I remember Martina Navratilova complaining at one time about the colour difference and questioning why there should be a distinction with the ladies getting predominantly pink ones. By now you have probably guessed which event I am talking about. Yes of course, it is Wimbledon.


It is almost a rite of passage to be able to souvenir a player towel and there are contests between players to see you can … well, souvenir the most towels following a match, or even by the end of the tournament. It’s tough to say who the titleholder is.


A player towel is most definitely a prized gift. There is nothing that can match that as a souvenir from a tournament and they are pretty expensive in the merchandise shop. Individuals have started collections over the years.


Tournaments, like the four Grand Slams, know there is going to be a shortage of towels after the end of their respective two weeks. It is genuinely funny to watch how quick a player’s reflexes and movements are in collecting their towels after a match as a court attendant, whose job it is to pick them up, is left standing dumbfounded. 


Oh goodness, be reasonable, the players are just helping out the hard working court services people because a whole stack of towels can get heavy.


Wimbledon is certainly at the top of the ranking for towels, not only is it because it’s Wimbledon but the towel quality is very good. Roland Garros would follow in the towel rankings but the problem with the French Open towel is that it is not bath size. I can’t understand why they would provide the players with a towel that is just double the size of a hand towel.


The Australian Open would be third and the US Open would lag in fourth spot. Not sure if the ones in Dubai have improved in quality – with those ones the colour would run and the material was not absorbent enough. The ones at the Shanghai Rolex Masters are good as are those for the respective year-end championships.


What I can’t work out is where the towels are packed in luggage because the players have so much of their kit to put into luggage.


Look at things this way; this is a major positive for the tournaments because it is a great advertising tool. That’s the bottom line. Needless to say all the towels I photographed here were borrowed. True … really.