on valentine’s day weekend, some love for shahar peer

We’re glad that the folks behind the Dubai Tennis Championships made sure to get a visa for Shahar Peer for this year’s tournament. You may remember all the flack they received after carelessly letting her papers for entry into the United Arab Emirates slip, causing the top Israeli player to sit out the event.

Peer pressure: But thanks to those who rallied around Shahar last year — the Wall Street Journal withdrew its sponsorship, Tennis Channel canceled its coverage, the SEWTA slapped the event with a $300k fine, Andy Roddick backed out of the men’s tourney in Dubai, and defending champ Venus Williams made her 2010 contingent on whether Shahar would be able to play — Shahar’s facing Yanina Wickmayer in the first round.

FYI, she’s getting no special security detail for her time in Dubai. Here’s hoping it all ends well.

Draw: Shahar’s half of the draw includes top seed (and world No. 3) Caroline Wozniacki, Venus, Na Li, and Elena Dementieva. The rest of the top eight — Jankovic, Azarenka, Aggie Radwanska, and second seed Sveta Kuznetsova — are in the other half. (Draw: Women’s singles.)

how many pleated plackets could a placket pleater pleat?

Tathiana Garbin is the main mascot for Sergio Tacchini now that Flavia Pennetta has switched over to adidas.

Say that ten times fast: At the 2010 Australian Open, Garbin wore both a tank top and a polo for competitive play; the pieces both have some bold detailing (a pleated placket for the polo; pleated vents for the tank).

And at this week’s Open GDF Suez in Paris, Garbin’s switched to a white polo with more classic construction (but also with a brighter — teal — color). She lost in the quarterfinals to former STer Pennetta 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Flavia will be facing Lucie Safarova (wha??) in the semis.

More: A few looks at Garbin’s Sergio Tacchini after the cut…

once you’re toast, you get toasted

Guga was awarded with the Cruz do Mérito Desportivo (Cross of Sporting Merit) yesterday in Brasilia. This is the the Brazil’s highest honor awarded to athletes.

And at this week’s Open GDF SUEZ tournament in Paris, the women celebrated the recent retirement of two-time Grand Slam champ Amelie Mauresmo, whose post-pro life will be devoted to everything (including running the NYC Marathon) — but coaching. Read an account of this tribute (including a video clip!) over at DtL.

(via WTB)

thomas reynolds for spring 2010

The second drop of the Thomas Reynolds collection — that’s James Blake‘s turn as a creative consultant for Fila — made its appearance in the hardcourts of Australia before heading to Europe for this week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis tournament in the Netherlands. He lost early (to Marcos Baghdatis) in the first round.

Brackets: The quarters for the tourney are now set: Davydenko plays Melzer, Soderling‘s up against Benneteau, Youzhny faces Monfils, and Djokovic will try to keep his top seeding with Leonardo Mayer taking a stab. (Men’s Draw)

Fila: The goods will drop later this month. Stay tuned!

(image via Getty Images)

fed cup fashions from the first round

Not quite yet: Lest you think we’re done with the Fed Cup fashions from last weekend’s ties, here’s one last round.

Save for the uber-bland black/white color scheme worn by the Americans (hmm, maybe that’s why the Williams Sisters decided skip the tie and head to Miami for the Super Bowl?) all the ladies showed off their country colors with pride.

Honorable mention: Yanina Wickmayer won her singles rubbers (losing the first set in both), leading Belgium to a 3-2 win over Poland. Note her bright red Erke top and those red nails… Alona Bondarenko won the lone rubber for Ukraine against Italy, showing off her grey collared K-Swiss kit in the process… Petra Kvitova won one of her matches in the Czech Republic’s home tie against Germany. She wore the standard Nike issue for their players in that country; we loved the blue nails that went with her kit… The wide, bright stripes on Sveta‘s separates (from Fila) was a nice change from the Heritage collection pieces she wore for the Australian Open… Christina McHale made lemons with her bleak American uniform by painting her nails black… Chinese player Zhang Shuai, who played singles and doubles (and lost all three), wore Nike; the chinese characters for “China” are incorporated in the tattoo printing on the back of her tank.

(images via Getty Images)

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alexander mcqueen, RIP

Alexander McQueen was found dead on Thursday morning in his London apartment. See Eric Wilson’s obit for the NYT here.

Though we always appreciated his high-concept fashion shows and collections (of the latter, especially those influenced by zoology and biology), it was his collaboration with Puma, which started in 2005 with footwear and expanded into men’s and women’s clothing in 2009 — that sealed the deal. We were hoping that he’d dip into the tennis pool at some point (Serena was sponsored by Puma pre-Nike), but now it’ll just be a pipe dream.

Further browsing: Check out the galleries at style.com to see McQueen’s work for his eponymous label. FYI, he was also the head designer for Givenchy from 1996 until 2001.

(image via style.com)

safin re-living youth in rio

Marat Safin, who bowed out of the ATP tour three months ago (losing his last singles match in Bercy), is set to make his debut next month on the senior Champions Series circuit — in Rio De Janeiro of all places. The playboy will join Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Mark Philippoussis, Cedric Pioline, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors, and Fernando Meligeni in a single-elimination event with a $60k top prize.

Ahh, to be young again! “It is going to be a lot of fun to play in Brazil for the first time at the Rio Champions Cup and join some of the great legends in tennis,” said Safin, who turned 30 on January 27. “It will be an interesting change to be one of the young guys on the tour again and I look forward to playing in front of the Brazilian tennis fans.” For someone who’s thrown around his wisdom in the last few years, we wonder how he’ll fit in with the old folk.

(image via Getty Images)

short balls: let’s get physical

Somehow the tennis news is still pumping 10 days following the completion of the Australian Open. There was plenty of action this past weekend with the first round of Fed Cup being contested around the world. The biggest story to come out of the weekend on the American front was the success of Melanie Oudin, who returned to her Fed Cup-roots to find a couple of big-time wins when she needed them the most. Oudin followed up that success in Paris this week, winning in convincing fashion over a spiraling Sorana Cirstea.

1, 2, 3: It’s no Britney holiday re-make, but ESPN360.com, which housed several courts of action during the Aussie, will change to ESPN3.com this coming spring. In the release, the company said that tennis coverage will include, “Hundreds of hours of multi-court coverage of all four “grand slam” events as well as select other events.” Kudos, ESPN. Now if only they could broaden their contract with internet providers, we can all be happy.

Swimsuits in February? The tennis-struggling Ana Ivanovic continues the way of the Other Anna, posing for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. We do love the bed of light-pink tennis balls (Wilson’s Hope balls) Ana is lying on in her main shot, but can’t help but wonder if the Serb really understands what she’s making of her career. Is it inevitable she’ll go the retirement route in the next 24 months? It’s certainly possible. But if she does, we really hope she doesn’t stick with the stylist who suggested the tennis-net-as-accessory move. Just not okay, Ana.

Another tennis beauty actually graces the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Andy Roddick‘s wife, Brooklyn Decker was chosen as the cover model for the mag.  Roddick Tweeted about the accomplishment, oozing excitement for his partner. We’ve got to wonder: is it weird for Andy? At least Brooklyn didn’t go the way of the NBA’s George Hill. Oops. Hey George, people save text messages and pictures! It’s a new thing in the 21st century. Get used to it.

Power brokering: While Ivanovic might be making a name for herself more with her off-court moves than her on-court ones, she did sign a lifelong deal with adidas this week, which included ambassadorship after retirement. Roger Federer, whose career and corporate appeal have stayed alive because of superior tennis, was named by Forbes Magazine as the third most powerful name in sports. #4? Mirka. Well, on our list, at least…

Ken is her trophy: This week it was unveiled that Kim Clijsters would have a Barbie doll created after her, honoring her 2009 U.S. Open win. If nothing else, we’re happy to see the doll is donning Kim’s USO outfit, that comfortable Fila look that made her look so business-like but sporty. Good thing it’s not Kim Wedding Barbie, right?

The Midwest’s Slam: I’ve been reading Jon Wertheim‘s Venus Envy this week, throwing myself into the world of the WTA circa 2000 when Vanessa Webb was a familiar name and Oklahoma City still hosted a mid-winter event. The Midwest’s slam seems to have shifted to Cincinnati, where the summer events on the WTA and ATP tours will merge in 2011 in grand fashion, stadium upgrades and all.

Big booties finish second: Find out who Serena Williams thinks would beat her out in a Booty Battle. We weren’t too surprised, either.

jelena jankovic’s fed cup garb

Our hats are off to Jelena Jankovic and the folks at ANTA for producing one of the better Fed Cup outfits of 2010 so far. (I know Nick wasn’t really a fan, but I will stick to my guns!) She and the rest of the Serbian gals couldn’t fight off the hard-hitting Russians in this first round tie of the World Group I bracket.

Especially with all the talk of Venus‘ skin-colored undies at the Australian Open, it’s refreshing to see someone take a step back and go with sheer instead. (See the panels on the chest and the side of her dress.) We could have lived without those awkward slits that made Jelena’s dress look like it got caught in an escalator, though.

FYI, she wore a white version during her doubles match with Ana Ivanovic.

Again, the details: We love the red nails, the red and gold in her bracelet and necklace, and the same color motif in her shoes. See ‘em all after the cut…