Q1: I know you monitor the new trends in tennis wear. What isyour opinion about the tradition of players having to wear white at Wimbledon? What did you think about the white sports coat worn by Federer last year?
I have to admit it took me a few rounds to warm up to Roger’s blazer last year. My initial thought was that he agreed blindly to a stylist’s (or, gulp, publicists’s) suggestion. The delivery was much more awkward than in concept (a blazer paired with tennis shorts and shoes — yikes!). Instead, I argued for a button-up cardigan: much sleeker, much easier to pair with on-court attire, and the “RF” crest would have worked just as well. Ralph Lauren does it all the time. In the end I did enjoy the jacket. I’m all for mixing up what you wear on the court. Wearing white is a great tradition that we should keep around.
First, there’s so much change going on with Wimbledon in the last few years: the players no longer need to bow/curtsy after every match, men’s and women’s winners get equal prize money, they’ve installed HawkEye technology on the show courts, and Centre Court will get a retractable roof. With all this going on, it’s nice to have some things stay constant: strawberries and cream, Henman Hill, and tennis whites.
Second, I’d rather not leave it to players to find colors that complement the green grass. (My eyes are still adjusting from all the weird colors worn on the red clay courts at the French.) White is clean and appealing to the senses. And for us tennis fashionistas, consider Wimbledon our version of “Iron Chef”: each player has to come up with a well-designed predominantly-white ensemble. So out of the closet come the accent colors, the accessories, the varying cuts, fabrics, and patterns of dresses. It’s awesome. This year, look out for Roger’s purple-trimmed shirt (with gold shoes), Serena’s halter dress with an aqua trim on the hem (which she’ll accessorize with a new Wilson racket laid with 22-carat gold leafing), and Stella McCartney’s design for Maria Kirilenko: a sleeveless top with a point collar and ruffled front. Reebok designed a new dress for Mauresmo (part of a new collection), and adidas has also shown pictures of Ana Ivanovic’s dress.
Q2: Andy Roddick traditionally plays well on grass as he was the runner-up twice at Wimbledon. What does he have to do this year in order to break through at Wimbledon?
Andy Roddick, along with every other ATP player NOT named Roger Federer, will have a huge uphill battle to win this year’s title. All Roddick can do is play his game and hope for the best. His game works well on grass, he’s still improving under the tutelage of Jimmy Connors, and he turned around his dismal first-round doubles loss at a Challenger (!) tournament with a title at the (Stella) Artois last week. He’ll come into Wimbledon with confidence, which will be his best weapon against Federer.
Q3: Who are some “grass-court sleepers” with the gentlemen and ladies who can possibly make some noise at this tournament?
For those unfamiliar, Wimbledon seedings do not follow ATP Entry rankings. with the re-jiggering, 11th-ranked Czech Tomas Berdych was bumped to 7th, which means he wouldn’t face anyone ranked higher than him until the quartefinals; I expect to see him through the second week. Australian (and 2002 men’s winner) Lleyton Hewitt benefitted with a bump up to 16th seed, steering him clear of trouble until the 4th round; I expect him to make the second week as well. Up until Andy Murray’s (photo) wrist injury two weeks ago, I would have expected the Scot to shine on his home court this year. Alas, the United Kingdom needs to wait until 2008 to crown a hometown hero, since Andy likely won’t recover in time. On the women’s side, I expect Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova to quietly get through the second week while the world continues to roll out the red carpet for the Serbians (Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic).
Q4: Being that Roger Federer is so dominant on the grass surface, do you think he is “ripe” to get picked off by someone in this tournament? If so, who could be that someone who does “the impossible?”
The only person that can beat Roger is Roger. If he’s done rueing his loss in the French Open finals (“I couldn’t care less how I played the last 10 months or the last 10 years. At the end of the day, I wanted to win that match.”) and he’s done wearing his clay insecurities on his Nike sleeve, then Wimbledon is a lock.
Q5. What’s your predictions for the gentlemen and ladies champions and why?
As I’d said, I don’t foresee anyone upending the folks we’ve generally seen at the top. Roger Federer will march his way through another title. While he might have been hampered with a thigh injury (forcing him to withdraw from last week’s Wimbledon tune-up in Halle), he should be roaring to go. And he still has an edge over EVERYONE on grass, meaning, his weaknesses, which were so grossly exposed on clay, disappear on this surface.
And for the women, Justine Henin will take the crown again. She has put herself together after both missteps in her health, private life, and her dealings with the tennis public. While the bigger babes like (Ana) Ivanovic, (Jelena) Jankovic, and Serena might give her some trouble, Henin will be able to match them pound for pound. For men’s doubles, I’m choosing (Daniel) Nestor and (Mark) Knowles (photo) over Mike and Bob Bryan. For women’s doubles, Serena and Venus, who took a wildcard (and won this tournament in 2000 and 2002) likely won’t win this time around.
I want to thank Erwin for his time and we will hear back from him as Wimbledon rolls on….