35,681 strong

Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams set a world record on Thursday, playing an exhbition before 35,681 fans at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.  Serena was a replacement for Justine Henin, who pulled out of the match because an elbow injury sustained at Wimbledon.

The match was originally titled the “Best of Belgium” but didn’t turn out that way as Serena replaced Justine. Martina Navratilova was honorary chair judge, while French Open champ Francesca Schiavone was also in attendance. This was the first meeting between Kim and Serena since their infamous 2009 US Open encounter.

The previous record was set when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973 at the Astrodome. 30,472 people were in attendance for that brawl.

Two more shots from the record-setting exo after the cut. [Read more…]

short balls 2.0: like a train, we’re still going

Who knew today would be such a busy tennis news day?! And here we were thinking all we’d have to do is count how many times John McEnroe used “she” in his commentary instead of identifying Zvonareva, Pironkova or Kvitova by name. We think it was somewhere in the ball park of 2,000 or so.

My first-person account of trying out to be a US Open ballperson is up on the New York Times Straight Sets tennis blog. No, I haven’t heard back yet, but I can assure my tryout wasn’t quite as entertaining as Jimmy Fallon’s from last year’s Open. Hilarity.

In case you haven’t heard yet, Justine Henin has sustained an elbow injury at Wimbledon and has already stated she’s likely not to play the US Open. So much for that comeback, eh? Oh, and remember the 35,000-seat stadium that was going to host the Justine versus Kimmy exhibition? 34,999 people are breathing a sigh of relief that Serena signed on to take her place.

(OT) The Target Corp. is opening a new store in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem nabe, on 116th and Pleasant Avenue. The company is going all out with advertising, including buying and entire 6 Train (which runs on the east side through Spanish Harlem) – inside and out – for brand advertising. Click the image above to see video.

Pardon our forgetfulness, but we had somehow lost track of the kennethinthe212 blog, a witty and well-written corner of the web that dedicates a good deal of virtual ink to the world of tennis. Or, more importantly, the catfights of tennis. Most recently, Kenneth made sure to post Sandra Bernhard‘s angry Tweets scolding Pam Shriver for existing… er, we mean, for ridiculing Venus Williams. You tell ‘em honey!

And in a not-so-surprising move, the Huffington Post has selected Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovicas the top two male hotties at Wimbledon. #3? John Isner. We’re not so sure about that one…

bury the hatchet or fuel the flame?

It has just been announced that this coming February’s BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden — in 2010 an event contested by Venus, Ana Ivanovic, Kim Clijsters, and Sveta Kuznetsova — will this time feature Agassi, Sampras, Lendl, and McEnroe in a renewal of their classic rivalries.

John and Ivan will play a one-set pro match (first to eight) and the Agassi/Sampras matchup will be a best-of-three. TSF’s curious to see how the latter will pan out, especially in light of Andre’s malfunction at Indian Wells this year. (Hey, if Kournikova and Hingis can kiss and make up, why can’t these two?)

But not to take away from the event’s a noble cause: to bring awareness to our sport through the “Tennis Night in America” initiative, a collaboration between BNP Paribas and the USTA.

Info: For more info about the event, to be held on February 28, 2011, visit tennisshowdown.com.

kelly ready to out-tennis ramona, jill

In the past few weeks, Real Housewife Kelly Bensimon has made a push to become the most tennis-savvy of the New York ladies, first appearing with Venus at the Billie Jean King Cup in New York, and yesterday hosting a celebrity exhibition match in Miami.

TSF spoke with Kelly’s cast mates Ramona Singer and Jill Zarin at the Night of Legends tennis event in September. We wondered who Jill might pick as a doubles partner in a re-match of the two reality stars’ tennis duel. Maybe she should consider Kelly, no?

The ladies of the Real Housewives of New York are back on the small screen with their third season of cat fights and caviar.

(screen grab via wta web site)

agassi/sampras: the awkwardness continues

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras continued their awkward war of words at the Hit for Haiti charity event at Indian Wells on Friday. Tennis.com has a transcript version of what went down between the two in an exchange that clearly upset Sampras and saw him (playfully?) bomb a serve at Agassi.

It makes us wonder, though: what is Agassi’s deal? Sampras was playing the exhibition fun role just fine, taking a page out of Novak Djokovic‘s book by imitating Agassi’s pigeon-toed walk. It was Andre, whose book has seen wild success but was outwardly critical of several players, none as much as Sampras, who began the verbal jabs with “I don’t have any money,” referring to Sampras’s supposed poor tipping mentioned in his book.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer stood by helplessly and rather uncomfortably, Rafa saying nothing and just smiling through the whole thing while Federer tried to joke about it – which only seemed to make matters worse.

jet-setting venus gives kelly first ticket

In the past month, Venus Williams has been all over the world. From Melbourne, she spent time in Miami before heading off to Dubai (where she won the title) and Mexico City (another week, another trophy). She arrived in New York today to do some promotion for the Billie Jean King Cup, which happens tomorrow night at the Madison Square Garden.

We couldn’t be more jealous of Kelly Bensimon, the non-tennis-playing housewife (of The Real Housewives of New York City) for getting the first ticket to this year’s event. Let’s just hope our press pass puts us close to ya, Kelkel!

After the cut: Kim and Sveta take in the Knicks game at MSG. [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)

friday fare: food from the exo… fashion, too

The James Blake exhibition Tuesday night in Manhattan didn’t just feature top-level tennis, it also featured top-level eats. Bringing in chefs from around New York, the event had tasting and drinks from some of NYC’s most well known restaurants, including the pictured chocolate truffle tennis balls, prepared by Brian Young of Tavern on the Green. Those look delish!

John Mooney, chef at the Highland Manor, was the host chef of the event, which some exhibition-goers attended following the tennis Tuesday night. Later on in the night, Wyclef Jean took the stage at Pier 94 to perform.

While we’re still waiting from images from the Fila Fashion Show that was to feature Blake’s Thomas Reynolds line, there wasn’t too much creativity happening on court earlier in the evening, as the Bryan Brothers and Sam Querrey all sported the same adidas garb, and Blake followed suit in a white shirt and black shorts by Thomas Reynolds.

While we weren’t too keen on the gent’s lack of creativity on the court when it came to their apparel, we’re still hoping that we’ll find this Thomas Reynolds zip hoodie under the Christmas tree in a few weeks. Yum! See the Peacoat Hoodie after the jump.

[Read more…]

blake exo brings in sam, andy MCs

Last night at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side a mostly-packed house watched James Blake beat substitute Sam Querrey before the two singles players paired up in a losing effort against Bob and Mike Bryan.

The event was an exhibition headlined by Blake and sponsored by Back Office Associates to raise money for the Thomas Blake, Sr. Cancer Research Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Andy Roddick, who was set to play Blake before having to drop out because of an on-going knee injury, made an appearance on court as “Sam Querrey’s coach”, but was visibly limping and in pain. Roddick took the microphone for much of the first set to entertain the crowd, quipping jokes at Querrey’s errors and generally entertaining the crowd with his dry, savvy humor.

The night also saw Melanie Oudin make an appearance, wearing a silver sequined skirt, black heels and a leather jacket. At one point TSF overheard Melanie say her feet hurt while on the red carpet. Pain is beauty, Mel.

Blake’s childhood friend, John Mayer was in attendance as well, wearing black pants and a black blazer, the pop crooner was looking just fine while sitting among Blake’s family members.

(tsf photo)