Actress Susan Sarandon to meet Swedish table tennis idol

Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:41am EST
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STOCKHOLM (Reuters Life!) - American actress Susan Sarandon, due in Stockholm to receive an award next week, has no plans to meet journalists but will set aside time to meet one person -- table tennis legend Jan-Ove Waldner.

The Oscar-winning actress, a keen player herself, put in a request to meet with Olympic gold medalist and former world champion Waldner, the director of the Stockholm Film Festival told Reuters Wednesday.

"It was on her initiative, we just made the effort to find him," Git Scheynius, director of the Stockholm Film Festival, said. "She's actually involved in a table tennis club in New York -- that's one of her greatest hobbies."

Waldner is to his sport what Michael Jordan is to basketball or Tiger Woods is to golf. He won the World Championship twice in singles and took home an Olympic gold medal during a career that spanned more than two decades.

His longevity earned him the nickname "The Evergreen Tree" in China, where he is particularly revered.

Scheynius said Waldner was surprised at the invitation but gladly accepted. He and Sarandon will sit next to each other at the dinner, she added, but will not be alone.

Sarandon, who won an Oscar for the 1995 film "Dead Man Walking," is due to receive a lifetime achievement award at the festival.

Any chance Sarandon might square off with Waldner across a table tennis table during her time in the Swedish capital? A festival official said that if they did it would be a surprise.

<p>Actress Susan Sarandon speaks to girls at her table at a Girls Mentoring Luncheon, also attended by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, at the Governor's Mansion in Denver, Colorado in this November 16, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>