anna k officially the 'biggest loser'



Make ‘em run lines! Should Team Anna have re-thought this decision before agreeing? The former tennis star, often cited as the most famous player to have ever hit a ball without actually winning a title, is confirmed to have her hand in the upcoming season of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Though we are pretty sure of folks out there that are excited about Anna K being back on their TVs on a weekly basis.

TSF Vault: Anna Kournikova

(Image by Music4Mix via Flickr)

strokin’: when tennis met music



By Jonathan Scott

It may not be tabloid fodder like every Taylor Swift dalliance, and it’s not nearly as insufferable as Brangelina, but the marriage between music and tennis is itself a storied love affair. It stretches across decades and genres, and it knows no bounds – well, none other than those pesky white lines.

Try to set aside the disappointment that the artist Sergey with the song “Tennis” on iTunes is actually not Vera Zvonareva‘s ridiculously good-looking model/coach. And, however possible, repress the memory of Justine Henin‘s song-and-dance scareoke on TV. Yes, Novak Djokovic and Ivo Karlovic have tried their tongues at rapping, as has Vince Spadea with amusingly deplorable results, but that doesn’t mean you should try it at home after perfecting your Djokovic-ian down-the-line backhand, does it?

As the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival just wrapped its annual song-a-thon in Austin, Texas – soon to be the site for a volatile USA vs. Spain Davis Cup tie in July – here’s the skinny on the latest hot shots in tennis-tinged music and an homage to some of the greats.

Best Newcomer: James Blake is a dub-step soulman and a veritable crooner. The British JB, that is. His American counterpart is a best-selling author and owner of a laser forehand whose best days are past, but Blake the Brit is taking the music world by slow-burning storm, releasing his rave-reviewed eponymous debut in February and – well before that – igniting the blogosphere with his faithful but quirky cover of Feist‘s “Limit to Your Love.” Let’s just pray that, when we hit up a James Blake concert sometime, his fans aren’t half as annoying (adorable?) as the American Blake’s J-Block can be in the tennis stands.

Dainty she is not. Our fave album cover from Blonde Readhead’s 23. (Image via band website)

Best Dressed: Sometimes it’s okay to judge a band by its cover. Oxymoronic indie rockers Blonde Redhead out of New York City put out the best, most elegant tennis-themed album art when they dropped 23 in 2007. But, no, the song “Top Ranking” has nothing to do with disputed no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Worst Dressed, but Best Sound: Yea, there is a band simply called Tennis, a married duo specializing in ’60s surf-pop for 2011. This act released its debut Cape Dory in January, and though the song “Marathon” doesn’t harbor the words “Isner,” “Mahut” or “Wimbledon” anywhere in the lyrics, it’s solid stuff. Consider it your soulful throwback soundtrack for this summer – but steer clear of wearing skintight aqua as with the album cover. It looks like leftover fabric from a hideous Nadia Petrova creation.

Best Tournament Run: This has to go to the ginger-haired heroine in the video for Vampire Weekend‘s “Giving Up the Gun.” She rips through a draw that includes Joe Jonas, a Daft Punk-helmeted doubles team, and even a flask-swilling Jake Gyllenhaal in tear-away pants. It’s a great song, and the immaculately-white indoor court is sharp – even if the choked-up strokes from the damsel look laughably bad in reality. Girl, who taught you to grip a racquet like that? Topping it off: RZA from Wu-Tang Clan serves as the chair umpire, and Lil Jon offers astute on-court coaching. Brill.

TSF Vault | The many lives of tennis-themed music vids

Best Clay-Court Match: French DJs Martin Solveig — oddly in tasteful Wimbledon whites — and Bob Sinclar, sporting some hot-magenta vintage-Agassi styles, squared off on Roland Garros‘ red dirt for the video for Solveig’s dance track “Hello” sung by Dragonette. The match and music video are both visceral, a veritable heartbreaker. Check out the cameo by that flashiest of the current French tennis stars as he comes on the scene and devastates the darling DJ.

Hello? Could Martin Solveig look any cooler? We think not. (YouTube screengrab)

Best Charity Hit: Andy Murray and Thom Yorke of Radiohead teamed up for charity single “Two Minute Silence” to benefit serving and former British troops and their families. Strangely enough, its title is no lie. “Hear” — but really just see — it here. British Prime Minister David Cameron and more also got in on this quiet riot. Truly the oddest not-quite-a-band lineup ever, but hey, can’t wait for their episode of “Behind the Music.” Finalist: Wozniacki put out a charity single called “Oxigent” (or “Oxygen”) to benefit Danish and Polish Paralympic athletes. Because, you know, she has oodles of free time.

Top Passing Shot: Meg Baird‘s lovely, lilting “Waltze of the Tennis Players.” It’s just pretty, and we do pretty.

More of Jonathan’s music musings (including “Best Grunt” and “Best Musical Ode to a Tennis Player”) after the cut. [Read more...]

short balls: giving a damn



Giving a damn: We made note of Ellen’s powerful words last week after the disturbing rash of suicides among LGBT youth. The nation has banded together in a variety of ways, including the We Give a Damn project that was launched by the True Colors Fund. This past Sunday night, activists held a candlelight vigil in Washington Square Park in New York City.  Actor and blogger, Andrew Kennan Bolger, documented the evening on video.  More to watch: We Give a Damn has a few of their own videos, featuring some of our favorite big and small screen faces – among others. Check them out. Plus: Zachary Quinto says (Tweets?) the right thing after 50 Cent runs his mouth again.

Commercial offerings: There’s plenty to see on YouTube if you go and type in ‘tennis’ in the search bar and sift through the many (dozens? hundreds?!) of homes for sale that happen to include tennis in their property in one way or another. One good find we had this week was an old Heineken commercial that hadn’t crossed our path before. Watch the video – camera tipping and all – here. Meanwhile, we found the newly-released Australian Open commercial (below), tagged “A Whole New Level” via the ladies over at OntheBaseline. None other than Ms. Sam Stosur makes five appearances in the 31-second clip. Joining Serena, Roger and Rafa as the faces to be seen at the AO 2011.

The injury diaries: The injured Justine Henin is set to test the competitive waters in an exhibition against Kim Clijsters in Antwerp on December 9th. Things aren’t as peachy for Robby Ginepri, who broke his arm in a biking accident and will be out of the game for the rest of the season. We’re hoping for a Sam Querrey kind of return for the current world no. 118… not a James Blake kind of return.

Tennis shavings: Things are feeling a bit more Blake than Querrey over at NYC-based Tennis magazine. The publication announced earlier this week that they would cut four of nine editorial positions and begin outsourcing most of its art and photo work, focusing more in-house on Tennis.com. The magazine recently shuffled Sarah Unke from her role on the print side to be online editor following the departure of Abigail Lorge. It’s unclear who is still calling Tennis his or her work home, though assistant online editor Ed McGrogan posted an ESPN blog item earlier today. 10tenmedia, a New York creative firm, will handle much of the mag’s print design.

Body games: Former Tennis cover girl Anna Kournikova made an appearance on the small screen on NBC’s “Biggest Loser” last night. Kournikova served up some motivation for the contestants, and they seemed to inspire her, too. ESPN the Magazine hits newsstands this week with their annual “The Body Issue.” The mag always chooses several different covers to print (six this year), and wheelchair tennis queen Esther Vergeer got the nod for one of those covers in this cover print. The US women’s water polo team also has a cover, as does golfer Camilo Villegas (yeah, we’ve never heard of him either).

More of short balls, including a giggling Roger and an all-inclusive short(er) balls, after the cut.

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short balls: skipping the tennis



This is the first photo that matches the search term “short balls” on Flickr. Igor Andreev putting away a short one at Wimbledon, 2008. (Photo by Mark Brocklehurst via Flickr.)

While we’re plenty impressed by all the Davis Cupping that happened this past weekend, the tennis season is in a bit of a lull 10 days after the completion of the US Open and before the big-time fall tournaments get under way. The women are in Seoul and Tashkent this week, while the men are swinging their way through Bucharest and Metz. While we’ve been doing a little bit of swinging of our own, we’ve been making the non-tennis rounds of the internet and finding plenty of good, juicy bits to fill the short balls plate for this week. Nibble up, djya’ll!

Before we get to the non-tennis stuff there is a few tennis items to make mention of. David Rosenberg has an item on Tennis.com about Ana Ivanovic‘s strange relationship with the U.S. Backgammon Federation. The Federation has presented Ivanovic (a first-round loser in Seoul) with a lifetime honorary membership. Game, Set, Backgammon? | Kenneth in the 212 is giving us a peek of Gilles Simon‘s … well, just click the link. Meanwhile, Kenneth gives thumbs-up to the Chrissie & Martina documentary, Unmatched, that debuted last week. | Anna Kournikova is gracing the cover of the current issue of Maxim. The Russian is feeling rather American in the spread, no? | Amelia Island, which hosts a USTA event and used to be home to a much-loved WTA stop, has been sold to Omni, which has 45 luxury destinations throughout North American. (via TennisWire.org). | The ladies of Spain are boycotting the Fed Cup team in their country. Or, as Courtney put it, Ladycotting. Well chosen. | The USTA has donated 21,000 pounds of food left over from the USO to NYC agency City Harvest. | The Bryan Brothers are hosting a tennis-fun weekend near their hometown of Camarillo, northwest of LA this Saturday. Partnering with K-Swiss, the boys will be joined by Davis Cuppers Sam Querrey (another local talent) and Mardy Fish for an exhibition and wine tasting at Spanish Hills Country Club. Tickets here. | And no surprise here: Serena walks the catwalk at Fashion Week.

And some number crunching before we abandon our tennis roots for the rest of the web: at last week’s Bell Challenge in Quebec City, American women notched 12 match wins among 10 players (nearly one third the draw). Anchored mostly by Bethanie Mattek-Sands‘s final run and helped out by a semifinal appearance by our favorite Jersey girl Christina McHale and a quarterfinal result from Melanie Oudin. At the USO, there were also 10 American women in the draw, winning a total of 9 matches, three less than in Canada. All hail the Maple Leaf, we guess.

Now, the non-tennis-ing begins. We’re loving this children’s book Dad Dad Mom Mom that promotes same-sex couples as parents. It’s even got a video up on YouTube. Storks get us every time. | TSF contributer and everything-extraordinaire Tobin Addington has his re-vamped web site up, which features musings on his blog and links to his writing, which is downright fantastic. His stuff is available here on Amazon. Check it. | The New York Times has a fantastic slideshow up of the good stuff at Burlington Toys in New York. Toy geeks rejoice! | While the DADT fail was disappointing yesterday, it’s encouraging to see a pop star take such a stance, isn’t it? | The New Yorker Festival kicks off next weekend (Oct. 1-3). The event features a sit-down with famed sports writer Bill Simmons. Too bad said talk is already sold out, but nice to see the intellects of the world wanting to hear/ see Bill in action. | We’ll just steal Gawker‘s headline on this one: “Bristol’s Grody DWTS Debut“. | It’s NYC Climate Week. That is all.

And if you’re ever wondering who to turn to for all your tennis and sporting business news, it’s tough to beat this guy. [Read more...]

who needs wags? tsf has your habs right here



Husbands And Boyfriends, that is. With all the love for the Wives And Girlfriends out there, we figured it was about darn time to make sure that this game of payment equality was also about equality in and about the scouring of the player boxes for attractive looking people – of both sexes. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the HABs of the 2010 US Open.

We’re leading off the pack with a known entity: Tomas Berdych. You can find Berdych in the corner for longtime-GF Lucie Safarova. Both are Czech. Both are beautiful.

WTA looker Dominika Cibulkova - herself included in Urban Daddy’s list – has tattooed fella Miso Navara giving her thumbs up during her matches.

Are these two still together?! Mladjan Janovic with Jelena Jankovic. What a household the Janovic-Jankovic home would be, no?

More BAHs after the cut. (It’s worth the click.)

[Read more...]