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...]

in print and online, serena steps up

While CNBC’s Darren Rovell has spent a lot of energy covering the many marketing moves of Ana Ivanovic (and what a great job he’s done), I feel like the recent developments in Serena‘s world deserve mention…

Back on the web: First, after being MIA at least since the beginning of 2007, her official website is back up and running. I’m not in love with that cursive font she uses in her note to fans, but hey it’s a start. Not sure what’s going to happen with her blog. (It’s been cited in a few media outlets — who I can only assume fact-check — so we’ll go with it.)

HP’s “Hands”: Serena is also the latest star of HP’s ads which have previously featured Shaun White and Vera Wang. The TV ad focuses on her passions, “including tennis, fashion, movies, video games, animation, and music.” They’ll run on USA and ESPN (and online at SI.com).

The ad also plays when users visit the “Serena Web Experience” — a mash-up of vlogs (from friends and family), downloadable ringtones (her grunts!!), and clips of her Jackass moment with Wee Man — involving a pineapple, of all things.

FYI: The ads were created by Omnicom Group‘s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

How does Serena choose endorsements?:

I don’t take every offer that comes along — I get a lot of them. I think sometimes my agent (Jill Smoller) gets mad at me! Not really; she understands, but she does kid me about it: “Are you going to turn down everything?” I don’t want to attach my name, like some athletes or celebrities or whatever, to just anything. It has to fit my values, my personality. … And my partners are always involved in philanthropic things. They’re companies that give back, and that goes well with me. It’s not really about the money. … [The brand of] Serena Williams is not for the now; it’s for a lifetime. (via Ad Age)

Boobs, schmoobs: And Serena takes part in a series of ads by Nike Women which comment on the place of women in sports. Manhattan got a billboard from the campaign in time for the U.S. Open. It’s a picture of Serena Williams wearing a blue shirt printed with the word “ATHLETE”. The accompanying text asks, “Are you looking at my titles?” Titles, titties — get it?

AdRants wonders why Nike would stoop to the level of objectifying women if the point is to move away from that. (But female fans drool over male athletes all the time, so I guess it’s okay…)

FYI: As a part of the campaign, Nike founded the Let Me Play Fund with $425,000 in cash and equipment. The fund will benefit women’s sports orgs.

(via DTL)

fashion preview: venus' u.s. open outfits

Funny that this morning I was wondering what Reebok was making for Venus to wear at this year’s U.S. Open. As you might know, Venus’ crazy sponsorship deal — which paid $40 million over five years starting in 2000 — wasn’t renewed because of all her injuries (poor thing). But she had worked out a deal that paid her to wear these short shorts at Wimbledon.

Now she’s bounced back by partnering up with Steve & Barry’s for her clothing line EleVen (at an announcement that overshadowed the Masha/Nike red dress junket yesterday, I might add). Venus will wear some of pieces on the court in Flushing Meadows, including this dress and $15 (!) pair of shoes above.

I think that color will look good on her. And I LOVE the collar on that sleeveless top. Brava!

Bonus round: CNBC’s Darren Rovell did a great interview with Howard Schacter, Steve & Barry’s Chief Partnerships Officer. Read it here.

short balls: venus' necklace, Sochi grumbles, tiger's lame, blake pens a tearjerker, etc.

Venus’ jewelry: A few of you asked about Venus‘ Wimbledon necklace. Unfortunately I have no information about where she got it from. Instead, I offer the New York Timesrecent slideshow on current necklace styles. Ellen Tien has an amazing eye for this stuff.

Venus and Reebok: CNBC’s Darren Rovell talks about the relationship between Venus and Reebok (basically, that her endorsement — the largest in women’s sports history — was not renewed in 2003 because of her erratic playing schedule; she still gets paid to wear Reebok even though she’s not on their athlete roster).

A tearjerker: Rovell also gives a great review of the new James Blake memoir, Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life. Blake has had a rough last couple of years…

Sochi grumbles: We’re all aware of Maria Sharapova‘s endorsement of Sochi as an Olympics site. Now the other side speaks up. (Spiegel)

More grumbling: This time from the All-England Club, who didn’t appreciate that London Mayor Ken Livingstone planned the beginning of this year’s Tour de France on the same Sunday as the Gentlemen’s Singles Championships. The cycling tournament caused road closures that hassled spectators trying to get to Wimbledon. And the AELTC didn’t want to share the spotlight with any other event with such an international focus (which make sense).

Tiger is lame: I think Tiger Woods is a great guy, but did he really need to be such a douchebag in that Gillette commercial that aired during Wimbledon? In it, Roger Federer strokes Tiger’s presumably smooth (post-shave) cheek, and Tiger turns to Thierry Henry with an awkward “uhh, did he just do that?” reaction.

For you French77 lovers, a treat: Puma is having an online sale (which includes items from the French77 collection); take 20% off your order when you use the coupon code PUMA20 during checkout. Expires July 23. (via Puma)

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