short balls: paris around the bend

See the win, be the win. Rafa will go four his sixth French starting on Sunday. | Official RG website

Espresso and pastries. The French Open is around the corner? You don’t say. While qualifying is underway (Draws: Men’s | Women’s), we haven’t been much focused on the tennis court this week. The men’s tour is making a before-Roland Garros stop in Nice, while the ladies are at their usual spot in Strasbourg and the newly-added Brussels. In Brussels? That’d be Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and defending champ Francesca Schiavone. Seriously, do these girls take any time off? Marion Bartoli and Andrea Petkovic are both semifinalists in Strasbourg. Tomas Berdych remains in Nice, where the once-hot David Ferrer was cooled off by Alexandr Dolgolpolov in the quarters (French dark horse? We think so!) 4-6 6-1 5-7.

Now to the good stuff. We know, sometimes the tennis gets to be too much. But just in time for players to descend upon the city of love American-based Abercrombie & Fitch is opening their first Parisian store on the famed Champs-Elysees. How did they celebrate? By bringing out a hundred shirtless models in their why-are-there-holes-in-these jeans. But seriously, we can complain that much.

Straight shooters. How cool are Hudson Taylor and Ben Cohen? The former all-American wrestler and English rugby player, respectively, are arguably the two highest-profile athletes on the planet campaigning for gay rights — as straight dudes. The New York Times paid them both their due diligence with a feature late last week. Cohen surprisingly announced his retirement from ruby to focus on his work with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, an anti-bullying effort. We’ve written about Taylor on this blog before, his AthleteAlly.org gaining national attention over the last few months. Here’s the Columbia wrestling coach on MSNBC.

Roll it, map it. How cool is this map? The work — from Alienlovespredator.com — depicts Manhattan and 91 movie references. Gotta dig the illustrated genius.
Short(er) balls: Djokovic-loving Anna Wintour joins the fight for gay marriage. | Everyone’s favorite ‘RHONYC’ Bethenny Frankel is making it big — and we mean at the bank. | And Robyn is slowly taking over the world. With her music.

(rafa photo via getty images; movie illustration by alienlovespredator.com)

in vera’s corner, a&f model/ hitting partner/ distraction tactic

Models, actresses, singers and political powers have made their presence felt in the players boxes at Wimbledon and beyond over the years, especially as tennis has transitioned the last few years as more of an entertainment sport. But how often can we say a model slash coach slash hitting partner sits him or herself in the box to watch a major semifinal? Not often. Well, if you count Matthew Perry as a hitting partner, maybe… but the boy is no model, that’s for sure!

Vera Zvonareva’s surprise run to the Wimbledon final can now add this footnote: she has a model in her corner. Sergey Demekhine, a former touring pro from Russia, has been spotted in her box throughout the tournament, as well as hitting with her on the practice court. On Zvonareva’s web site, he’s listed as the 25-year-old’s coach.

Somewhere along the road, Demekhine has put his tennis body to work for him in different ways, most notably as an Abercrombie & Fitch model. Check out the pictures after the jump to see the proof.

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