a royal visit to wimbledon


Here hunny, you sit here.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, better known to us as Kate and Will, made their first visit to Wimbledon today as a married couple. The two took in Andy Murray‘s rather straight-forward match against Richard Gasquet, the Scotsman winning 7-6 (3) 6-3 6-2. Kate looked stunning in off white (don’t you love that shoulder pattern, too?) and Will looked regal in a classic navy suit with a patterned red tie. Billie Jean King joined them in the royal box, as well.

More Murray: The world no. 4 has Kubot or Lopez in the quarterfinals

(Getty Images photo)

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...]

sunday survey: a hitting partner for the ages

Tomorrow night the DC metro area will host arguably its biggest tennis event of the year as World Team Tennis puts on its annual Smash Hits charity event at American University. Billie Jean King will play the honorable hostess, joined by a cast of tennis (and non tennis!) greats: Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Anna Kournikova and Elton John. A good friend of TSF is DC-bound for the evening of big time tennis and big(ger) personalities.

It got us thinking: If you could play tennis with any one individual from throughout history, who would it be and why?

Don’t like our options here? Create your own in the comments section.

(photo by Patty Boh via flickr)

short balls: the geography edition

Fall is coming to fruition across the country. Well, that is if you don’t live in the Los Angeles area. Southern Cal was hit with quite the heat wave earlier this week – temperatures topping around 113 degrees around downtown. On this week’s short balls, we’re staying away from the heat and traveling around the country (and world!), region by region, to bring you tiny tidbits in URL-linked style.

The Midwest is losing one of its tennis gems, as the stadium that hosted the (formerly-named) RCA Championships – the Indianapolis ATP stop for 21 years – was put to the wrecking ball this past week. (via jon_wertheim) Remember: Better times in Indianapolis, which lost its tourney to Atlanta this past year.

The Southeast | The WTA celebrated the 40th anniversary of what it describes as a day of “rebellion” and “independence” last Thursday, September 23rd. In 1970, Billie Jean King and “The Original Nine” broke away from the tennis czars to form the WTA with help from a few business-savvy folks (and Virginia Slims cigarettes). The total purse at the 1970 Virginia Slims Invitational in Houston? $7,500. The winner took home $1,600, which is one about one tenth the money first-round losers are awarded at today’s majors.

Meanwhile, in the Southwest, Mirjana Lucic continued her winning ways this past week by capturing the title at the USTA Pro Circuit swing in Albuquerque. Lucic took out three Americans on her way to the championship. This week, she’s in action up north at the $50,000 event in Las Vegas.

Further west of Lucic’s success in Big Sur, California, Bob Bryan announced he was engaged to longtime girlfriend Michelle Alvarez. And west coast companies Diesel (Los Angeles) and Nike (Portland, Ore.) have new ad campaigns out. The Diesel campaign, “Kick Ass” takes a sarcastic approach to their shoes kicking ass (literally) and not being fitted for running. Nike’s “BOOM” campaign features several well shot (and edited) commercials. In all those split-second shots of different sports, your not missing a tennis moment. The sport didn’t make the cut for this promotional track, FYI. More FYI: Nike’s Q1 profits were up 9% overall. Maybe thanks to Rafa? Or the bed bugs? Probably Rafa…

More geographical adventures (including a dive into New York City!) after the cut… [Read more...]

tennis’ reception line for queen elizabeth II

…And ‘Best Dressed’ goes to: Perhaps it’s the American in us, but we were all about Andy Roddick and his wearing a white blazer to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Day 4 of the 2010 Wimbledon tournament. (The tailored Federer suit is so predictable!) QEII attended the day’s session to watch Andy Murray play his second-round match against Jarrko Nieminen.

Roddick and his jacket (we can only assume it’s Lacoste) was part of a reception line which included Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Laura Robson, Jelena Jankovic, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki Kai-Chen Chang, Roger Federer, and Serena Williams (who’d been practicing her moves in anticipation of this meeting!).

As Nick said earlier, Her Majesty wore the perfect color to complement the bright green grass of the AELTC. It’s a boost to the sport to see her around these parts.

(images via AP)

live blogging the FO (men’s) final

5:39 PM 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 Game, set, match, Nadal I’m pretty happy for Rafa and that win. He definitely deserved it. Congrats, big guy.

5:24 PM 6-4, 6-2, 5-3 Nadal Time for the Robin Soderling to pull out the gladiator armor. He’s neeeeeeeeding it.

5:07 PM 6-4, 6-2, 3-1 Nadal No, we have no idea who the junior champions are, either. And so much for Bode Miller‘s U.S. Open bid. Kind of rough for the USTA‘s number one story line to flame out in the first round. McEnroe is really doing his best to verbally route for Sod to take this to four or five.

[Read more...]

live blogging the FO finals

4:56 PM, Game, set and match, Schiavone 6-4, 7-6 (2) Well big props to Schiavone for closing out the match like she did. We really dig the whole kissing-the-clay thing. Upping Guga‘s classic heart by making love to the clay with your mouth, not your racket.

4:41 PM, Schiavone leads 6-4, 6-all There is now the potential for this thing to turn into a high-quality, dramatic three-set affair. Could the WTA actually see its saviors in the games of these two relative unknowns? It’s been dang fun to watch such good tennis for two sets and 90 minutes thus far. I’m also digging the extra-cheesy Geico and Billie Jean King commercial.

4:29 PM, Schiavone leads 6-4, 4-all Stosur is tightening up here as the Italian has won the last three games to even up the second set. Can we see the first three-set women’s final since 2001?

4:07 PM, Schiavone leads 6-4, 1-2 Loving the NBC editors for their choice of exit-out music for commercials, so far including the SATC2 theme song, Beyonce and Britney. Diva music for two non-divas.

Meanwhile, we’re thinking that the Franny Faithful would make a great Jersey Shore spin-off. The hair! The muscles! The sunglasses! Stosur has nothing on these boys.

3:57 PM, Schiavone wins first set 6-4 (Good news!) Schiavone is playing with heart and (bad news!) Stosur is playing with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Let’s see if a clean court can give Sammy a clean conscience. (BEST news!) Mary Pierce sighting in the first row of the far side of the court. Like a summer bride, she’s wearing all white.

[Read more...]

sunday survey: who’s your queen of the bjk?

The Billie Jean King Cup happens tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, an event that features Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic. While this is an exhibition that might not mean much on paper, there is some pride on the line (Ivanovic’s plummet; Kuzy’s ability to play with the top gals; Clijsters’s redemption for her fizzle at the AO; Venus’s continued success from Dubai and Mexico City). Don’t doubt these gals will giving it their all in the world’s most famous arena.

(photo by deleteyourself via flickr)

outside winter, inside spring

Serena Williams captured the inaugural BNP Paribas Billie Jean King Cup on Monday night at the Madison Square Garden, beating her sister Venus in the final 6-4, 6-3.

While it may have been winter outside in the middle of Manhattan, spring was in full bloom inside the arena. Even President Bill Clinton and Billie Jean joined in the color brigade, sporting patterned purple and soft mint, respectively, on a snowy night.

The color wheel keeps spinning after the cut…