the tennis channel unveils signature series: arthur ashe at the us open 2014

Tennis Channel will celebrate the illustrious career of tennis pioneer, devoted activist and Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe in Signature Series: Arthur Ashe during the 2014 US Open. The newest edition to the network’s original Signature Series documentary lineup – Ashe’s first authorized television biography – will debut Sunday, August 31, at 11 p.m. ET at the conclusion of Tennis Channel’s US Open coverage. A complete schedule of episode airdates can be found on the channel’s website at www.tennischannel.com/schedule.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe delves into the brilliant tennis career, passionate activism and untimely death of one of the most respected athletes of all time. In a pantheon with other 20th Century agents of change like Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Muhammed Ali. Ashe is remembered as a man who broke color barriers and affected human rights issues. With perhaps nothing more important to him than education and the opportunities it can afford people, of all walks of life, Ashe took a leading role in advancing this cause of using a locker room as a means of promoting the classroom. The dignity and grace with which he led his life, on and off the tennis court and in the face of his own mortality, remain respected around the world.

“Arthur Ashe’s legacy transcends tennis and even sports, and this is a story that simply had to be told,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For the first time television audience will experience Arthur in the context of history and learn why he was one of the greatest social leaders our world has seen.”

An eventual World No. 1, Ashe began as an outsider in tennis, an African-American unable to play junior tournaments – or even walk onto the same court with a white opponent – because of racial segregation laws in his home state of Virginia. He went on to lead the University of California Los Angeles’ championship tennis team, and became the first African-American to play for the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963. This landmart “first” was one of many in a lifetime of firsts for Ashe. He later became the first man to win the US Open in 1968, its inaugural year. In doing so, he also became the first – and to this day only – African-American man to win the singles title at the US Open or the U.S. National Championships, as the tournament was known before the Open Era.

Ashe added to his place in history with championships at the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975, also firsts for an African-American man. Even today his Wimbledon championship upset of Jimmy Connors is considered a match for the ages. Ashe remains the only black man to win singles championships at the US Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open. He also, with 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah of France, became one of only two black men to win a major tennis singles title. He finished his career with 33 titles overall.

This documentary, however, charts the story of not only a Grand Slam champion, but also a lifetime leader, humanitarian, philanthropist and human rights activist who worked with three different U.S. presidents. Known for his character, Ashe’s passionate and tireless leadership translated into many causes – both politically and socially. He protested South African apartheid, championing human rights and serving as a beacon of hope to the people suffering under segregation there. Ashe became such a virtuous example to South Africans that they nicknamed him “Sepo” or “Hope.” After decades in prison, future South African president Nelson Mandela immediately sought a meeting with Ashe upon his release. Ashe was also committed to protesting U.S. crackdowns on Haitian refugees. He was arrested twice while demonstrating his beliefs regarding these issues. Above all Ashe was a fierce advocate of educational empowerment, and gave back to his community throughout his life. Paramount among his achievements may be his role as a founding member of National Junior Tennis and Learning, a non-profit dedicated to helping underprivileged youth through tennis.

“We are humbled to be able to honor Arthur Ashe’s memory in this edition of Signature Series,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel. “His actions as a player have helped to mold the sport as we know it today, and his convictions as an activist continue to inspire people and motivate positive change in the world.”

In 1992, Ashe announced that he had contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion years earlier while receiving treatment after heart surgery. In doing so, he became an early and public face for raising awareness about the disease. Ashe, with his wife Jeannne, helped to bring attention to AIDS by founding the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, which generated funds for study into treating, curing and preventing the disease, with the eventual goal of finding a cure. He continued to bring light to the plight of AIDS victims by speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, inciting a call to action for delegates to increase funding for research and see the virus as a global issue. At a local level, Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He designed the institute to address poor health care delivery issues amongst urban minorities. Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.

“The greatness of Arthur Ashe was not his tennis. It was the way he carried himself and what he tried to create. He represented so many good ideals and values … and I always believed that America lost a great deal when we lost Arthur Ashe,’ said longtime friend and agent of Arthur Ashe, Donald Dell, in an interview that appears in the documentary.

Spending nine years in the World Top 10, Ashe contributed more to the sport than just great match play and big wins. In response to tennis’ growing popularity and the stalemate of tennis professionals’ earnings, he co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) with Jack Kramer and others in 1972. The ATP was formed to represent the interests and rights of the men who made their living on the pro tennis circuit. Ashe served as president for two years and went on to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. Today he is the namesake of the main venue at the US Open, “Arthur Ashe Stadium,” the largest tennis arena in the world. It was Ashe’s dedication to promoting equality and championing human rights – both in his professional and personal life – that keeps him in the hearts and minds of the public.

Ashe’s family, friends and contemporaries have joined together to help Tennis Channel honor the tennis great by speaking about their fondest memories of him on camera. Each was asked to write a personal letter to Ashe from the present, addressing the ways in which his legacy lives and the changes in the world today because of him. Read in “Dear Arthur” segments throughout, the letters form the pillars of the film’s structure. His brother Johnnie Ashe, Ambassador Andrew Young, prize winning sports writer Frank Deford and tennis icon Billie Jean King are among those featured. Other interviewees include contemporaries like all-time great Rod Laver and Cliff Drysdale, and tennis chroniclers Richard Evans and Steve Flink.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe is a a part of Tennis Channel’s on going Signature Series documentary lineup. Other tennis personalities and subjects have included Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Vitas Gerulaitis, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Rene Lacoste, Bud Collins and the sport’s centuries-old origins.

tennis legend mats wilander coaches GQ’s rosecrans baldwin for the US Open

GQ’s Rosecrans Baldwin is a tennis fanatic. He didn’t start playing tennis until the age when most pros retire, but he’s pretty decent at it. It was the longest of shots, but that didn’t stop him from gunning for this year’s U.S. Open. He hooked up with a former champ (Mats Wilander!), trained for months, and took his first step toward becoming a Grand Slam winner.

Baldwin on his experience training with Wilander:

“My first time out, a ball from Mats came fast to my backhand. I was caught off guard and returned a weak slice, rather than a more powerful topspin shot. Mats said immediately: ‘Why did you do that? You’ve got a good backhand—why hit a slice?’ Twenty minutes later, there was a drill where Mats fed me overheads so fast I might as well have swung my arm like a propeller to hit them all. Instead, I lost focus and dumped three into the net. Mats was pissed. ‘You should never miss an overhead! It’s the easiest shot in tennis. Federer misses maybe five overheads in a season.’”

Watch Roger Federer’s pre-match routine

“It was a master class. He disassembled everything he’d noticed in my game, down to the tiniest hiccups in my strokes. ‘Against these guys’—meaning the opponents I’d see at the tournament—‘you have nothing. No weapons. Maybe two things: your footwork and your determination. That’s it.’ From there came tips, tactics, solutions. He jumped out of his chair to demonstrate positioning. Compared situations I might face to moments in matches he’d played twenty-five years ago. By the end, my notes ran to seven pages.”

The September issue of GQ is available on newsstands now in New York and LA and nationally August 26.

serena williams joins Delta Open Mic to warm up for the US Open

Last night, Wednesday, August 20th at Arena in New York City, No. 1 tennis player Serena Williams joined Delta Air Lines for the first ever Delta OPEN Mic to warm up before she steps onto the court for New York’s most celebrated tennis tournament. Serena, along with celebrity friends, Orange Is The New Black’s Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox, comedian Kathy Griffin, 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden, Glee’s Darren Criss, celebrity fitness trainer Shaun T and tennis star Jack Sock, sang their favorite tunes to gear up for the tennis tournament kicking off on Monday.

Williams, a karaoke enthusiast, kicked off the night by channeling her inner Marilyn with “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” followed by Laverne Cox’s memorable rendition of “One Moment in Time.” The two were met with a resounding round of applause by fellow karaoke buffs and Delta guests.

And this post really is useless without the photos!

 

 

roger federer sits down with wilson for an interview

Roger Federer sits down with Wilson for an interview and discusses various topics.  Is he mentally and physically ready for the US Open 2014? Especially after the win in Cincinnati. How does a champion like Roger Federer prepare for a match. What is his pre-match routine and much more.

But the best questions were about the Wilson RF Pro Staff and the ALS Ice  Bucket Challenge.

Enjoy the interview because we sure did

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.

 

serena williams, sloane stephens and more to headline inaugral taste of tennis in new york city

AYS, the creators and producers of the Taste of Tennis, New York’s premier pre-US Open experience, announced today the first-ever Taste of Tennis Week will take place from August 20th – August 23th, 2014 in New York City. In addition to the renowned Taste of Tennis Gala, Taste of Tennis Week will feature even more tennis-meets-food events, including the Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge on August 20th, Citi Dining Series on August 21st and Party with The Pros on August 23rd.Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens

The 15th Annual Taste of Tennis Gala offers guests the opportunity to sample sensational cuisine prepared by the most prestigious chefs in the world, sip on handcrafted cocktails all while rubbing elbows with professional tennis players. World #1 Serena Williams, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Host of Today Show and MSNBC’s NewsNation, Tamron Hall, will be joined by top tennis players, celebrities and a number of New York’s finest chefs and culinary personalities.

“The Taste of Tennis concept has proven to be so popular, and we are pleased to offer these exciting new events that provide foodies and tennis fans with unprecedented access to their favorite chefs and pro tennis personalities,” explains Penny Lerner, CEO of AYS.

Tickets for the Taste of Tennis Week are currently on sale and can be purchased online via the links below. The complete Taste of Tennis Week schedule of events includes:

Wednesday, August 20th – Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge, 9AM-12PM (Midtown Tennis Club – 341 8th Avenue): Hosted by Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan. At this exciting event, professional chefs will serve up something a little out the ordinary as they compete in a round-robin style doubles tournament to determine who is the King (or Queen) of the court!

  • Participating chefs include: Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Daniel Holzman (The Meatball Shop), Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop), David Seigal (Cull & Pistol), Francois Payard (FPB, FP Patisserie), Zac Young (David Burke Group), Chad Brown (Davio’s), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), Phil Conlon (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), Alfred Portale (Gotham Bar and Grill), Philippe LaJaunie (Les Halles), Carmen Quagliata (Union Square Café), Floyd Cardoz (Celebrated Indian American Chef) and Andrew Friedman (Cookbook Author)
  • $150 to Participate in the Challenge: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrity-chef-tennis-challenge-tickets-12319053621

Thursday, August 21st – Taste of Tennis Gala, 7PM-10PM (W New York- 541 Lexington Ave.): The party that started it all! To celebrate the US Open, AYS created the Taste of Tennis, a one of a kind event featuring fine food prepared by 25 of NYC’s top culinary minds, signature cocktails, interactive sponsor experiences, live music and appearances by the world’s greatest tennis players. Hosting this year’s gala will be Today Show’s Tamron Hall, headlining Chef Masaharu Morimoto and professional tennis star Serena Williams. The evening will be a curated culinary evening with US Open stars, the brightest chefs in New York and celebrities who will be on hand to enjoy the slew of offerings with proceeds benefiting City Harvest.

  • Participating chefs include: Headlining chef, Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto), John Mooney (Bell, Book, & Candle), Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Peter Andino (Heartbeat), Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Bill Telepan (Joel Javier/Larissa Raphael) (Telepan Local), David Seigal (Cull & Pistol), Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga and The Fat Ham), Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat), Phil Conlon (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), Chad Brown (Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse), Carlos Llaguno (Les Halles), Harold Moore (Commerce Restaurant), Ben Pollinger (Oceana), Zac Young (David Burke Group), Georgeann Leaming (Suppa), Admir Alibasic (Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse), Sebastien Chamaret (Bagatelle), Paul Evans (Secrets St. James, JTB) among others.
  • Participating athletes include: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Bryan Brothers, Sloane Stephens, Gael Monfils, Aga Radwanska, Dustin Brown and more to be announced.
  • Major sponsors for the 15th Taste of Tennis include Citi, Rado, Guadalupe Islands Tourist Board, The Cheesecake Factory, Jamaica Tourist Board, W New York, UnBurn, Mouton Cadet and Franciscan Estate Napa Valley, among others.
  • Ticket Information: Individual tickets for the event are available for $275/per person; http://tasteoftennisnyc.eventbrite.com/?aff=PressRelease

Saturday, August 23rd Party with The Pros, 6PM-9PM (Measure Lounge at Langham Place Fifth Ave.): Guests at the Party with the Pros will enjoy an evening of great food, handcrafted signature cocktails and live music, with some of the top names in professional tennis. This exclusive event takes place a Measure Lounge at the luxurious Langham Place Fifth Avenue hotel. Attendance is limited to 150 guests so get your tickets now!

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.

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)

spotted in the city: prince sets up shop at 47th/lex

Prince Tennis opens a storefront in NYC

 

Prince has set up a pop-up store (“brand experience”) in New York City timed with the 2013 U.S. Open. The space, which opens on August 23, will host appearance by sponsored athletes, viewing parties, and a space selling limited-edition merchandise. There will also be an opportunity to preview the Fall 2013 product collection before they hit the stores in October.

 

(photo by @npmikolich)