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)

charity by design: a charm bangle for the tennis hof



Alex and Ani - Game, Set, Match Charm Bangle - International Tennis Hall of Fame

 

Jewelry brand Alex and Ani has designed a tennis-themed charm attached to their expandable wire bangle (available in Russian Gold and Russian Silver).

Giving Back: As part of owner Carolyn Rafaelian‘s Charity By Design project, 20% of all Alex and Ani sales of the Game, Set, Match Charm will go directly to the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, the non-profit organization based in Newport, Rhode Island, that is dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring its greatest champions and leaders with a goal of inspiring the future of the sport.

Buy: Alex and Ani’s Game, Set, Match Charm Bangle; $28; www.alexandani.com.

andy roddick’s terra cotta twin lands in austin



Andy Roddick Foundation - Terra Cotta warrior

 

The Andy Roddick Foundation has finished its moved to Austin, Texas, now that the American’s hung up his racquet for good. One of the final things to make the trek from Boca Raton was Andy’s likeness as a Chinese terra cotta warrior, made up as a promotional campaign for the ATP Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai back in 2007. But secretly we want to know what happened to the warrior they made up for Nikolay Davydenko.

(Flashback: TSF’s interview with artist Laury Dizengremel about creating the warriors.)

Save the Date: The ARF will host its 2013 ARF Celebrity Golf Classic April 14-15, 2013, including a Bogey Down Dinner (get it?) “with Andy & Friends.”

short balls: a ‘dead’ week in tennis



Summer sorrow? The three weeks between Wimbledon ending and the US Open Series beginning (Note: we understand that the USOS already began in Atlanta, but surely you can understand that it really feels like summer when Stanford and Los Angeles start, no?) can always be a bit awkward. Sure, there is the beautiful thing that is World TeamTennis, and yes, there are those random events in Europe and the historic after-Wimbledon beacon known as Newport. But this is the time of year that tennis usually takes a breather. Or, at least, tennis news. In 2011, however, not so much. Don’t believe us? Read your way through this week’s short balls – there’s plenty to be had!

Up in arms: Folks in Canada (and beyond) were up in arms over a Rogers Cup poster being used to advertise the women’s tournament as a lead in for a senior’s event that featured Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. The tag line? “[C]ome for the ladies, stay for the legends.” Wait, really? Yes, really. Busted Racquet has a good shot of the poster, which Chris Chase says isn’t really that big of a deal — arguing that the tag line just sort of sucks. And while we partly agree, it was a double slap in the face from the TSF POV: sexually charged (“come for the ladies”) and wait … you want folks to stick around for two retired legends? To us, it should be the other way around. But the Rogers folks changed it up after the outcry, instead using: “[M]aking history, re-living history.” Done and done.

Wozy’s new boo? Always a flirt on Twitter, Caroline Wozniacki might actually have a boy following through on all those winky faces and nudge, nudge LOLs. Who’s the new fella? That’d be Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the 22-year old who stormed through the golf world earlier this summer to win the US Open — you know, just around the time that Caro was crashing out of Wimbledon. But Rory has a complicated (and catty?!) ex GF (Holly Sweeney — they were childhood boos!) and when trying to make an international relationship work in the 21st century, there are only so many #missubabe hash tags that will suffice. Stay tuned.

Dulko, Lena tie the knot (but (k)not to one another): Both Gisela Dulko and Elena Dementieva were married recently, Lena’s nuptials being quite the gathering of Russian tennis royalty. WomensTennisNow.com has a bevy of pictures, and Jon Scott wrote in the Daily Spin on Tennis.com that Safina, Kirilenko, Kuzentsova, Dushevina, Vesnina Zvonareva, Kudryavtseva and Igor Andreez (Kirilenko’s beau) were all in attendance. Dementieva married Maxim Afinoginov, a Russian hockey palyer, at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow.

Johnny be good. Seems as though John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg can still bring in the big bucks — and crowd. Their well-documented encounter on the World TeamTennis court last week in NYC helped raise more than $300,000 thanks to a sell out crowd. Where does the money go? To the youth, of course! “The funds raised will benefit the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, which provides scholarships, coaching, tournament travel and introductory programs for area youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the Academy or to participate in recreational tennis programs,” a Sportimes release said. Dunlop and Nike are corporate sponsors of the academy, which starts its second school year this coming September.

Do you think she did it herself? Pakastani doubles expert Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi announced his engagement to Faha Akmal Makhdoom. The two, above, celebrated over the weekend. Quite the tattoo, right?! But seriously, Erwin, that should make our tattoo watch list, right?!

Time-lapse goodness. Before short(er) balls, a bit of other thread (ot) delight: the video below shows the NYTimes.com homepage in time-lapse from September of last year until this month. Be amazed.

Short(er) balls: Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish have signed up to play an exhibition match in Oklahoma City — near where Andy’s bro John Roddick is the University of Oklahoma coach — on Steptember 25. John will join the gents for a doubles exo, as well. Ticket info here. | Things are shaping up well in Cincy. The Mason, Ohio-based stops gets the men and women at the same time this year (Aug. 13-21) and has six new courts, including a 4,000-seat show court. | Remember Robby Ginepri? The oft-injured American is on somewhat of a mini-comeback. The 2005 USO semifinalist beat former world no. 2 Tommy Haas in Atlanta this week and remains in the draw. Oh, and he’s engaged, too. | Ice cream sandwiches are all the rage in NYC right now. And for good reason. | The Museum at FIT in New York is currently showing a fashion exhibit that focuses on sports wear and its (huge) influence on the rest of the fashion and clothing industry. | A 17-year-old Lexington, Ky., tennis stand out is the new face of Hollister. The teen — Chad Buchanan — has no relation to American upstart Chase. Though, his mom was runner-up in the Miss America pageant in 1984.

(Serena-Hingis image via the AP; Elena image via Sports.ru; and Qureshi image via Getty)

short balls: design(ed) to entertain



What’s good design without good people: Designer James Huniford, Iman and GMA‘s Lara Spencer. (Getty)

For the few fervent TSF readers we have out there (what, are there a couple dozen of you?), you’ll know that our TSF East team (that would be me, Nick) worked at Housing Works for two years in SoHo. The AIDS non-profit has a different way of doing things with their social entreprenuerial outlets and also hosts one heck of a party, which is where I found myself on Thursday night.

The Design on a Dime event happens every spring and brings together interior designers from across the industry. Nate Berkus was a host this year (he’s shorter in person than you would think, but the hair doesn’t disappoint!) and brought together a few dozen designers to put together rooms (bathrooms, kitchens, living and bed rooms) that are then for sale — that’s right, every item in each room, from each lamp to table to painting to rug — is for sale. And all the money goes back to Housing Works’ AIDS programming.

As I volunteered on Thursday night, I got to tour around with Bravo’s Andy Cohen and go through a couple rooms with him. We debated on a couple chairs that he was eyeing, and when I saw him later he whispered “I got that chair!” with a little bit of hesitation in his voice. I approve, Andy. The piece he bought was a striped deck chair with gorgeous, 70s-inspired dark wood in the arms and legs. A picture? Don’t have one. But  my fave item of the whole night (I think it was retailing for $1,000) was a Cohen-influenced piece of art: the original six from The Real Housewives of New York City. Knock a zero off that price and I’m there!!!

Ramona and Alex made (late) appearance at the event, and though we couldn’t get the gals to go pose by their own portraits, you can bet that they were making the party rounds. More drama: If you haven’t been following the Sampras-Agassi blow up recently, it’s reached the level of Real Housewives dramatics. Jeez! These boys could even tire out the Countess!

For New Yorkers: The Free Public Sale goes on today through 6 PM

More shopping: NYMag‘s full line-up of New York sales this weekend

Tennis, too: It’s been a good year for Blake Strode. Last year, the now-23-year-old looked bound for (Harvard!) law school before entering the USTA’s first ever national play-in for a spot at the U.S. Open qualifying draw. He won nine matches to claim his spot in the qualies, where he won his first round match before bowing out. Not bad, eh? Well the journeyman is still at it in 2011, making a second go around at the playoff starting next weekend at Yale, the site of the New England Sectional. Plus: Blake’s ATP page

(Painting image by TSF)