Before a training, a match and above all, before the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, what are the needs of the athletes? Who guarantees, for example, calm and comfort to Elena Rybakina and Anhelina Kalinina before the match worth the women singles’ trophy? It is the locker room attendants, who are fundamental to ensure serenity to all players, pre- and post-match.
This year the tournament doubled, in number of days and players. The locker rooms have doubled too: one for the seeded players, under the Campo Centrale, one by the pools, where among other services there is also a hairdresser.
We talked about all of this with Valeria Dagianti, who has been working at the Internazionali for at least 15 years. “I’ve seen everything, I have seen generations of tennis players passing by, it’s very nice. No one sees us, but we are always next to them, and we never invade their spaces. If they come to us, we are happy to be available,” she said.
“The players might have a little superstitious ritual and often take the same lockers, going to the same places…” Dagianti explained. “They always choose the same side of the dressing room, years after years. Sometimes, two athletes who might face each other in a match are next to each other in the locker room, but there have never been any kind of problems”.
“The requests for towels are the most frequent”, she adds, “players also ask how the combination of lockers works, which then remain accessible only to them throughout the tournament”.
To all the players in the tournament, such as the finalists Kalinina and Rybakina are given various shower products and all personal needs, added Dagianti: “we are also available in the physiotherapy room to meet all their requests”.
In Rome, all players, she says, “feel like home, there is always respect for space. After the match, players put all clothes inside some designated bags so that the staff of the changing rooms, who also take care of the laundry service, can return the clean clothes to everyone, within 24 hours”.
Just like it is for each match, locker room attendants must prepare themselves. Their routine begins long time before the start of the match. “Let’s take the women’s final, scheduled for 7pm”. Dagianti explained, “Players start to arrive at 4pm, but we are here since this morning, always ready to welcome them”.
A calm and constant presence, today just like when she started fifteen years ago. But compared to the past, Dagianti concluded, something has changed. “Today, players stay on themselves, do their things, with headphones on or reading books,” she said. Instead, at the time of Serena Williams it was a whole different story. “She was very fun, she put music on speakers, dancing in the changing rooms, she was a really nice person. When she was there, she made herself heard. We hope someone like her, will come back!”