roger “the betterer” federer and the wilson racket scientists celebrate the RF97

Since Wilson Sporting Goods Co. and 17-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer announced the technical specifications of the Wilson Pro Staff line in early July, the tennis community has eagerly awaited the final look of the rackets. This weekend, the stealthy, matte black racket will give way to a new design inspiration for the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph and the line of Pro Staff rackets.

The new family of Pro Staff rackets underwent an aesthetic reinvention worthy of its performance specification evolution. The Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph will feature a black throat and red hoop. Red is a color with close ties to both Federer and Wilson and black is a color prevalent in past Pro Staff rackets. Black standardized design elements have been placed at three and nine o’clock on the hoop to ensure Pro Staff rackets are unmistakably Wilson, while infusing a fresh, youthful look.

“This is a great example of the synergy that exists between Wilson and the tennis community,” said Mike Dowse, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. President. “As a brand, we are committed to listening to the needs of our professional and recreational players. With the new Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph racket we have created a stylish design while maintaining the premium performance and feel.”

The story behind the final graphics package for the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph proves their intimate connection with tennis fans. Wilson executives discovered Peter Figasinski, a freelance graphic designer and life-long Wilson racket player, after he posted a design concept on a popular tennis forum. After tracking down Figasinski, Wilson signed him to a one-year contract to do exclusive design work across a variety of products and platforms.

Figasinski set out to share his vision for the new Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph racket as a modern yet youthful tribute to the proud heritage of the storied racket line. The design was submitted to Federer, who took to the graphics instantly.

“When I saw the designs from Wilson, I knew right away that this was the look that I wanted to represent my legacy with the brand,” said Federer. “The design is young and modern, with a classic feel. It is a fitting look for the next generation of the Pro Staff rackets.”

The Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph is the first Autograph racket from Wilson in nearly 40 years, the last being the Chris Evert Autograph introduced in 1976. The Jack Kramer Autograph, launched in 1949, is the best-selling racket in tennis history. Autograph rackets are reserved for tennis legends and no one is more deserving than Federer, considered by many as the greatest tennis players of all-time. The RF97 Autograph is the centerpiece for the new and evolved Pro Staff line, with the flagship graphics set to become the design inspiration for the Wilson line for years to come.

The Wilson Pro Staff rackets have delivered uncompromising feel for players of all skill levels and the latest products preserve the consistent feel while introducing a 97-inch head in three of the four models. The re-engineered Pro Staff models feature a 26 percent wider racket beam providing a significant boost in power. Compared to Federer’s previous racket, the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph is seven percent larger, resulting in a 10 percent larger sweet spot. The use of braided graphite and Kevlar® maintain the consistent feel that players have come to know in the Wilson Pro Staff line.

Wilson has produced an episodic series of videos that highlight the unique relationship they share with the tennis legend. The third and final episode is now available for viewing at www.wilson.com/betterer.

The new Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph is projected to be available in stores on October 1, 2014 and a retail price will be announced in the near future.

 

caroline wozniacki and meb keflezighi enter the tcs new york city marathon

New York Road Runners announced Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and 22-time WTA singles champion Caroline Wozniacki as official entrants for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. In addition to participating in the 26.2 mile event, Keflezighi and Wozniacki will run as Ambassadors for New York Road Runners Team For Kids charity running team (TFK). TFK helps to raise funds for NYRR youth running programs, providing free health and fitness programs to more than 200,000 children in New York City schools throughout the five boroughs and around the world.

Photo credit: Courtesy NYRR

fitz and the tantrums headline the opening night ceremony of the us open 2014

The USTA today announced that energetic and genre-smashing band Fitz and The Tantrums will perform at the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 US Open in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Following the band’s performance 3 Winans Brothers, the Grammy-Award-winning brothers Bebe, Marvin and Carvin, will take to the court to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” The ceremony will be carried live by ESPN on Monday, August 25 as part of the cable network’s comprehensive coverage of the US Open.Fitz and the Tantrums

Fitz and The Tantrums will perform a three-song set, and will be surrounded by an immersive video and lighting spectacle, with dynamic projections of great US Open moments and tennis graphics on the court of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Other elements of the Opening Night Ceremony will include a special appearance by Tennis Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova, each of whom won a US Open singles title in 1984. They will join USTA Chairman of the Board and President Dave Haggerty on court to welcome fans, and in a US Open first, will remotely trigger the lighting of the Empire State Building. This special moment with one of New York’s most recognized icons will signal the start of Fitz and The Tantrum’s performance, and will be shown on the stadium’s big screens.

The performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” by the 3 Winans Brothers, will be especially poignant as 2014 marks the 200th Anniversary of the composition of our National Anthem. The colors will be presented by members of the NYPD and FDNY ceremonial units.

Fitz and The Tantrums – comprised of Fitz (vocals), Noelle Scaggs (vocals/tambourine), James King (saxophone), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards), John Wicks (drums) and Joseph Karnes (bass) – came onto the scene with the self-released EP Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1 in 2009 and soon were appearing on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and touring with Maroon 5. Their full-length debut, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, spent 73 weeks on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, peaking at No. 1, and they were named a “You Oughta Know” artist by VH1.

The 2013 release of More Than Just A Dream – produced by Tony Hoffer (Beck, M83, Depeche Mode, Phoenix) – ratcheted things up several notches. USA Today noted, “the Los Angeles sextet is more than ready for the big leagues” while Rolling Stone said the group “is all about irrepressible energy: hopped-up rhythms, shout-it-out choruses, hooted background vocals.” Fitz and The Tantrumshave performed on numerous television shows, including “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan,” “Good Morning America,” “TODAY,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Their first and second single (“Out of My League” and “The Walker”) from More Than Just A Dream both have gone # 1 at Modern Rock radio and have been RIAA certified gold.

From a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to 17 Grammys among them, BeBe, Marvin & Carvin Winans (3 Winans Brothers), have always been innovative in their music, their business savvy, their incredible groundbreaking shows, and more. The brothers have come together for the first time to create their supergroup, 3 Winans Brothers, and are ready to unveil their debut album Foreign Land, set for a September 2014 release via Regimen Records/BMG/eOne Music. Blessed with their family’s unerring sixth sense for fusing traditional gospel and urban contemporary music—without compromising the message or the spirit—the 3 Winans Brothers deliver a versatile album that speaks to all ages. Foreign Land, which includes their current hit single, “Move In Me,” brims with a wide range of styles.

maria kirilenko and alex ovechkin are dunzo, i wait by the phone

Maria Kirilenko is tooth fairy no more. The Russian bombshell broke off her engagement with hockeyplayer Alex Ovechkin. The two of them got engaged at the end of 2012. Kirilenko released a statement via the Russian Tennis Federation:

“I have made a decision to break up our engagement. There are a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t want to go in detail. I’ll say just that our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha as a person and an athlete and sincerely wish him athletic success in the future.”

Fortunately for Makiri, I am still single and as the title says, she can always come to me if she needs a shoulder to cry on!

But somehow, I don’t think she’s getting bored anytime soon!

Chia Co official sponsor of the US Open 2014

The USTA announced today that The Chia Co, world innovators in health food, will be an official sponsor of the US Open in a three-year deal spanning 2014 to 2016.

As a Health Food sponsor, The Chia Co will offer Chia Pods, a ready to eat product combining the nutrition of chia seeds with coconut milk and fruit, from a branded promotional space at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Chia Pods will be available in both player and media dining areas. In addition The Chia Co will receive on-court exposure through a branded cooler in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand.

“The USTA proudly promotes healthy choices and an active lifestyle” said Lew Sherr, USTA Chief Revenue Officer. “Teaming with The Chia Co is a great fit for the US Open. We are excited that our event can provide a global showcase for their new innovative product and their brand.”

This sponsorship marks The Chia Co’s first entry into tennis and expands their existing sports sponsorships, which includes a partnership with 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater.

According to John Foss, founder and CEO of The Chia Co, “We’re thrilled to be joining the ranks of established partners to one of the world’s most highly respected sporting events. The USTA is highly selective in which brands they align with, and we know our brand and products are a natural fit for the US Open. Our Chia Pods offer vital nutritional fuel for all levels of athletes.”

To support their involvement with this event, The Chia Co will be running a retail promotion in the lead up to The US Open. One lucky winner will enjoy a trip for two to New York and courtside seats to the 2014 US Open Men’s Semifinals.

wta 40 love: martina passes $1 million in season prize money

The WTA has released the third episode in their series WTA 40 LOVE Story presented by Xerox, a 10-part video series showcasing the history and growth of the women’s tennis tour. Entitled “1982: Navratilova Passes $1 Million in Season Prize Money,” the third episode highlights Martina Navratilova‘s 1982 season when she became the first woman in tennis history to surpass the $1 million dollar prize money mark in a season.

Watch: “1982: Navratilova Passes $1 Million in Season Prize Money”, WTA 40 Love Story presented by Xerox.

madison keys: moving better, knowing what she wants, giving back

The US Open American Express Fan Experience 2013 A decal of Madison Keys appears inside the American Express Fan Experience, a hospitality suite installed on the grounds of the 2013 US Open.

Madison Keys has better knowledge of her game. The fifth-best American on the WTA Tour has had a solid year, reaching the quarterfinals at events in Birmingham and Charleston, and making her way through qualifying before falling in the second round of the main draw in Madrid.

Keys was scheduled to face seed Jelena Jankovic in her opening match at the 2013 US Open. “I was telling people that I felt like I was going to have a seed in the first round,” said Keys by phone from her hotel in New York City. Thus, a match-up against a former World No. 1 was not a surprise. The Serbian Jankovic, who has had a resurgence in her own game after a mental refocus that started early this year, defeated Keys in straight sets.

This loss is only a slight setback to what has been a successful year for Keys, who is now ranked 39th. “Pieces of my game have come together a little better,” shared Keys. “I have a better idea of how I want to play and when I’m going to do certain things [on the court].” Keys also credits better movement on the court for her rise in the rankings.

The US Open American Express Fan Experience 2013
A fan at the US Open American Express Fan Experience watches as his tennis strokes are translated into visual art and sound.

The 18-year-old was also one of three American tennis players – Sloane Stephens and Jack Sock are the two others — showcased in the American Express Fan Experience, set up on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the 2013 U.S. Open. Of the many interactive exhibits, Keys showed interest in the display that turns groundstroke swings into music and art. We asked her what genre of music would best describe her tennis style; she said it would be “smooth” with a little crazy.

Keys was also instrumental in the erection of three new tennis courts at the Hodge Park Community Tennis CEnter in Rock Island, Ill., where Keys is from.

“I am really proud to be here today to help support this Fresh Courts program created by USTA and American Express, and to help support tennis communities like this, especially the one here in Rock Island where I grew up,” said Madison Keys to the Rock Island, IL community during the ceremony.

(Getty Images courtesy of American Express)

nike+ fuelband campaign highlights ping pong in #makeitcount campaign

NYC - Nike - #MakeItCount - PingPong - Table Tennis

 

Nike NYC folds in some table tennis into its campaign to get folks in New York to raise their heart rates. The latest event organized by Nike NYC Serving It Up: Tournament of Champions is a ping pong happening this Friday, August 23 at Moynihan Station (401 7th Ave. @ W. 33rd St.). Reserve your spot by tweeting a pic of your Nike+ Fuelband to @nikenyc on Twitter.  Winners could bag stylish gear like workoutwear, sweatbands, and shoes.

More: Check @nikenyc for more details.

uniqlo releases novak djokovic’s 2013 u.s. open kit

Uniqlo releases Novak Djokovic 2013 U.S. Open kit

UNIQLO previewed the 2013 U.S. Open kits to be worn by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and at the same time announced that it would sell a collection based on these styles, available to the public.

The designs keep simple, as has been the case for Djokovic’s UNIQLO uniforms thus far, and the Japanese outfitter’s design director, Naoki Takizawa, explained their concept behind the pieces. “The collection captures [Novak's] calm demeanor as well as his strong energy on the court in a striking yet unconventional black scheme and includes a mint green color that was chosen by Novak. The red version of his performance wear portrays a sense of passion while incorporating the UNIQLO official company colors of red and white. Once again the lines are an important design element aimed to help visualize his physical strength and speed on the court.”

Uniqlo releases Novak Djokovic 2013 U.S. Open kit

The company also offered another description for the collection on their website: “While unusual in the tennis world, we chose black as a key color in this year’s U.S. Open Collection.” JFTR, it’s really not that unusual, at least not for the U.S. Open (See: Roger and Serena wear black in NYC.)

“To us,” UNIQLO continues, “the color represents the strength and elegance of Novak Djokovic’s playing style. The mint blue detailing matches the tournament’s official color and symbolizes the cool agility of Novak’s movements on the court.”

Buy: Novak Djokovic Performance Wear; polo, shorts, track jacket, track pants priced at $49.90; socks, $9.90; uniqlo.com

Looking forward: Djokovic heads into the final Slam of the year with a 5-2 record for the summer hard court season; he lost in the semis of Montreal to Rafael Nadal and the quarters of the Western & Southern Open to John Isner.

Novak Djokovic - #meetnovak - Uniqlo - U.S. Open 2013

#meetnovak: Uniqlo arranged a meeting between Novak and fans at their Fifth Avenue flagship on Monday night.

(product images courtesy of UNIQLO; #meetnovak photo via @TheSliceTweets)

going green: venus williams (‘s diet)

By Benjamin Snyder

Venus Williams has had to change her diet since being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome

No more Oreos or Jamba Juice? Venus is aspiring to have a better diet in 2012. (AFP/Getty)

A tall order for the taller sister. Can the meat-and-potatoes Wimbledon-queen summon her past success as a leaner and greener player?

Older sister Venus, who’s claimed five titles at the All England Club, is having a health scare of her own after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease, which can lead to damage of the body’s vital organs. The illness forced her drop out of the US Open this year and has pushed meat out of her diet.

Despite the seriousness of the condition, Venus has been sporting a positive attitude and even healthier eating habits. She told reporters, “I changed my diet completely, so lots of vegetables. I [altered] my mind frame completely because I was the person who always ate their steak first and their salad second.”

Times are changing for the superstar, who said last year that she “eats to live and not lives to eat.” She continued talking foodie favorites, saying that she considered “beans and rice and blackened chicken” a top meal choice.

Venus discussed her new diet’s impact on the future. “My goal next year is to play a full schedule. It will take some work to get there, but I’m no stranger to hard work.”

TSF Vault: Venus Williams

This recalls the gourmet changes for 2011 ATP success stories Novak Djokovic, who’s claimed three major titles this year, and Andy Murray, who went on a 17-match winning spree after the US Open.

Djokovic’s decision to cut the carbohydrates to curb his Ciliac disease helped him achieve his best season ever, including the No. 1 ranking. Meanwhile, Murray discussed his own gourmet foray into becoming more fit. Before losing to Tomas Berdych in the Paris Masters, he said, “I think there’s a bit of difference in my approach to training and the diet; I feel pretty fresh.”

Not all’s well for the scrawny-looking Scot, who misses being able to pick up a menu and order what he wants. You can almost imagine his mouth watering when he said: “It can be quite frustrating when everyone else is dunking their bread in olive oil or smearing it in butter.”

Murray aside, Venus’ newfound form and fitness will no doubt have fans worldwide salivating for a dominating force in an otherwise floundering WTA. Petra Kvitova, 21, the current world No. 2 and winner of Wimbledon and the Season Ending Championships, might be the answer. She’s still, however, young and half-baked in terms of talent and poise.

It’s time for Venus to turn up the burners and bring back the motivation for which she’s known. Currently ranked No. 103, having only played a handful of tournaments this year, Venus quickly doused rumors of retirement.

“I love the game. The racket feels right in my hand and I’m planning on going right back to where I was at the top of the rankings in the singles and doubles.”

With Venus back in-shape and on form, the alarm bells should be sounding for the rest of the women’s tour. It’ll be tough to get out of the fire and back into the figurative frying pan that is professional tennis at her ripe age of 31. But if anyone can come back from adversity and succeed, it’s a Williams.

High stakes (steaks?), indeed.