Top tennis players took a brief peek into the workaday world of the London commuter, with the participants in the ATP Finals riding the Tube from the O2 arena to the Houses of Parliament.
The target of their travels was a champagne reception inside the seat of government hosted by sponsor Moët & Chandon to honour recipients of various ATP annual awards.
The eight be-suited singles aces and an equal number of doubles teams took what for most could have been their first experience in years with public transportation, as the chauffeured tournament vehicles they are more used to were idle during the first leg of the “common man” PR ride comprising seven stops.
After exiting at the Westminster stations and walking across the bridge to Parliament, players led by Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer attended the awards ceremony.
For the 16th straight year, the iconic Federer swept the fan favourite category.
The absent Rafael Nadal, recovering from ankle surgery this week, earned the Sportsmanship award while Djokovic was voted Comeback player of the Year after winning Wimbledon and US Open titles following a year of elbow problems.
While some players had perhaps used the TuBe back the early days of their careers during the Wimbledon fortnight, the experience was not a particularly familiar one.
“Although we’ve probably all ridden on the Tube a time or two, this was very different,” John Isner said.
“It’s a very cool way to make an entrance. There were quite a few surprised looks on the faces of folks, especially when Roger and Novak walked by. It was a treat for them.”
During the journey on a relatively sparsely populated public Tube carriage, the players signed autographs and posed for selfies with surprised fans.
Inside Parliament, the players were posed for pictures alongside statues of some of the great figures from British history.
They then attended a reception in the State Rooms, with permission of the Speaker John Bercow, also attended by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
ATP officials could not have been more pleased with their successful exercise:
“The ATP Finals bring the world’s best players to London for an epic, season-ending finale,” ATP boss Chris Kermode said, adding that most of the 250,000 expected to attend the eight-day Finals will be travelling to the east London venue by Tube.