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.

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

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.

for spring, babolat’s peek-a-pattern

Maxime Chazal wears Babolat at Open 13 2013 tennis tournament

Babolat did a big push with their new Aeropro Drive racquet technology to start off 2013 (with a fun commercial called “Spin Attacks in the Dark” featuring Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga), but we’re a tad more into the what’s going on with their apparel. Their current performance line includes a stripe pattern hiding in the placket and the left underarm of their men’s polo, presented as a piping detail on their men’s shorts, and also appearing as accents on their women’s performance pieces.

Marseille: The stripes showed up on Frenchman Maxime Chazal in the qualifying draw of the Open 13 in Marseille, France. Chazal received a wildcard into qualifying but lost in the opening round to Sergiy Stakhovsky. In the main draw, the quarterfinals are being played out today.




(Photo Credit: Yohan Brandt for Open 13)

victoria azarenka wins the Qatar Total Open, gets serenaded by boyfriend

Victoria Azarenka has lost her top spot on the WTA Tour despite a hard fought tournament victory at the Qatar Total Open over Serena Williams. She lost the top spot to none other than: Serena Williams.

Serena had the advantage of having no points to defend during this stop in the Middle East, while Azarenka was defending points from last year’s tournament victory. And Azarenka managed to hold her own but was ultimately not able to keep that top spot; the Belarusian succesfully defended her Dubai title beating Williams with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 victory.

Now lots of things have been happening to Victoria Azarenka. Most notably the entourage that travels with her has now expanded with a plus one: LMFAO frontman Redfoo and Azarenka are reportedly dating and on Valentines day Redfoo even made Azarenka a Valentines video. He wouldn’t just set it to private but really shared the whole thing with the world.



And it’s not just that, Redfoo also dedicated a song to Victoria Azarenka after her win over Serena Williams called “I’ll Award You With My Body.”



As cute as the song is, I’d rather take home that $426,000 check of the Qatar Total Open.

shirtless: youtube vids of tennis players

shirtless tennis - grigor dimitrov

File this away under “There’s something for everyone”: The Facebook / YouTube combo of Shirtless Tennis players has popped into our radar in the last few weeks (though they’ve been around since 2011). The vids are very matter-of-fact, grainy clips —  usually from match broadcasts — and aren’t really our thing, but in case it’s yours: you’re welcome.

Also: Remember brflines, which documents briefs/underwear lines of professional athletes? Celebrating its sixth year in business.

(screengrab via Shirtless Tennis)

watch: 9-year-old tennis phenom gabby price

Never too early: 9-year-old tennis prodigy Gabby Price is already training with legendary coach Rick Macci – former coach of the Williams Sisters, Maria Sharapova, and Jennifer Capriati — and competes successfully in national tournaments with much older, stronger girls.
Price is featured in an episode of the web series Prodigies, produced by the Google-backed THNKR YouTube Channel.

the ladies of the wta count their vitamins

Hopefully they’re taking their vitamins, too! In a short clip, a few select stars of the WTA — Laura Robson, Caroline Wozniaki, Petra Kvitova and others — guess how many USANA vitamins are in a jar. USANA is one of the official partners of the WTA. Before Agnieszka Radwanska delivers the final tally, can you guess which player was the closest? And how many vitamins do you think are in the jar?! | TSF Vault: Videos

wta sec: armchair commentary wrap up

By Matt Trollope

While Vika is looking up, Petra is really only looking ahead. (Getty)

Armchair commentary always takes a hit on a weekend because, quite simply, you spend a lot less time in the armchair. So without further ado, here is a wrap of the final weekend in Istanbul which offered up a new tournament champion, some quality tennis, and plenty of juicy plot-lines entering 2012.

Player of the year: Petra Kvitova‘s absorbing three-set win over Victoria Azarenka in the final went a long way to cementing her — unofficially at least — as the player of the year in 2011. With the four Slams being split between four players and a pervading sense of parity (or instability) throughout the tour, Kvitova’s resounding win at the prestigious event elevated her above all other candidates. Although Caro matched her haul of six titles, the Czech’s Wimbledon and WTA Championship titles were much more significant than anything Wozniacki achieved. Add to this her sparkling 19-0 indoor record, titles on all four surfaces and her rise from no. 34 to no. 2 and you see a player with a compelling case for POTY honors.

A new era? The weekend’s results caused a significant shift in the upper echelons of the WTA rankings, with Kvitova and Azarenka leap-frogging Maria Sharapova into second and third place respectively. For all the talk of veterans flourishing on tour — which remains true at Grand Slam level at least — the top trio are the youngest players in the Top 10. With Wozniacki and Kvitova just 21 and Azarenka just a year older, they have many more years ahead of them, and with the players possessing contrasting styles, the stage could be set for a compelling three-pronged rivalry into the future. Trivalry? We sort of dig this trio.

Inflated ranking: How on earth was Vera Zvonareva ranked no. 2 as recently as the US Open? The Russian, who now sits at no. 7, finished the round-robin stage with a mediocre 1-2 record. Somehow she qualifyied for the semifinals thanks to a count-back technicality, but it was there that she was comprehensively outplayed by Vika on Saturday, a player she had won six of her last nine matches against. With the emotional, mentally-fragile Vera of old resurfacing in Istanbul, the chances of her repeating her major final appearances of 2010 and re-ascending the rankings ladder in 2012 seem increasingly slim.

Tight battles: While it may not have been the best quality tennis ever staged, the championships produced some resounding battles that thrilled the fans in Istanbul. In the round robin stage, Zvonareva and Wozniacki fought out a tough three-set match on the second night of the event, and the next day, Zvonareva again found herself in a three-set fight, blowing a 5-3 final set lead and match points to hand Agniezska Radwanksa a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 win that featured several rallies worthy of the highlight reel. The final weekend was no different: Kvitova came through roller-coaster affairs against Sam Stosur in the semis and Vika in the final, defeating both in dramatic three-set contests.

Success story: More than 13,000 spectators reportedly packed into the Sinan Erdem Dome for the final, continuing a run of impressive crowds that attended each session. The support for the championships in Turkey was one of the bigger stories of the week and was pleasantly surprising given the event’s prior flops in Los Angeles, Madrid and Doha. With a state-of the-art venue, knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowds and an atmosphere the players relished, the unofficial “fifth major” has had some of its former glory restored and appears to be in good hands for the next two years in Istanbul.

So what’s next? The stories and results from this year’s championships have left us with many tantalising questions heading into the 2012 season. Will the young brigade of Kvitova, Azarenka, Wozniacki and Radwanska continue to flourish when the established greats — Serena, Kim, Venus and Maria — return to the tour fresh and healthy? More specifically, how will Kvitova’s impressive game stack up against a fully-fit Serena or Clijsters? Will Azarenka continue her steady improvement and eventually capture a major title? Will Li Na rediscover her confidence in time for the Australian circuit, where she’s defending a truckload of points? Will Wozniacki continue to cling to her no. 1 ranking or will she be usurped by bolder, more aggressive shotmakers? Will more decisive action finally be taken on the grunting issue, in the face of increasing complaints and media coverage? And will the WTA unearth a dominant player to bring stability to an erratic, unpredictable tour? Stay tuned …

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.