short balls: paris around the bend

See the win, be the win. Rafa will go four his sixth French starting on Sunday. | Official RG website

Espresso and pastries. The French Open is around the corner? You don’t say. While qualifying is underway (Draws: Men’s | Women’s), we haven’t been much focused on the tennis court this week. The men’s tour is making a before-Roland Garros stop in Nice, while the ladies are at their usual spot in Strasbourg and the newly-added Brussels. In Brussels? That’d be Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and defending champ Francesca Schiavone. Seriously, do these girls take any time off? Marion Bartoli and Andrea Petkovic are both semifinalists in Strasbourg. Tomas Berdych remains in Nice, where the once-hot David Ferrer was cooled off by Alexandr Dolgolpolov in the quarters (French dark horse? We think so!) 4-6 6-1 5-7.

Now to the good stuff. We know, sometimes the tennis gets to be too much. But just in time for players to descend upon the city of love American-based Abercrombie & Fitch is opening their first Parisian store on the famed Champs-Elysees. How did they celebrate? By bringing out a hundred shirtless models in their why-are-there-holes-in-these jeans. But seriously, we can complain that much.

Straight shooters. How cool are Hudson Taylor and Ben Cohen? The former all-American wrestler and English rugby player, respectively, are arguably the two highest-profile athletes on the planet campaigning for gay rights — as straight dudes. The New York Times paid them both their due diligence with a feature late last week. Cohen surprisingly announced his retirement from ruby to focus on his work with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, an anti-bullying effort. We’ve written about Taylor on this blog before, his AthleteAlly.org gaining national attention over the last few months. Here’s the Columbia wrestling coach on MSNBC.

Roll it, map it. How cool is this map? The work — from Alienlovespredator.com — depicts Manhattan and 91 movie references. Gotta dig the illustrated genius.
Short(er) balls: Djokovic-loving Anna Wintour joins the fight for gay marriage. | Everyone’s favorite ‘RHONYC’ Bethenny Frankel is making it big — and we mean at the bank. | And Robyn is slowly taking over the world. With her music.

(rafa photo via getty images; movie illustration by alienlovespredator.com)

short balls: from melbourne and beyond

Melbourne movie makers: While the Australian Open has always been known as the “fun” Major, it can also be tapped for the way it approaches things differently than the other three in the Western Hemisphere. This year, one aspect setting the AO apart is its tennis film festival, called Changing Ends Take Two. The festival describes itself as “an independent short film event for budding filmmakers to submit a film with the theme ‘Take Two’ as part of the Tennis Film Festival to be shown during Australian Open 2011.”

There are certainly plenty of entries to sift through. If you want to take a glance, start off in the 2010 tab to take a look at what was popular in 2010, including the most-viewed vid, “When You Have Tennis:”

And we kind of agree: who needs girls? | TSF Vault: More of the off-court tennis world in video

Admirable action: Remember Hudson Taylor? We do. He’s the former Division I all-star wrestler that is straight and is taking it upon himself to be one of the loudest non-gay voices for gay rights. Someone fighting for the well being of others?! Go figure. Recently Taylor launched AthleteAlly.com, in which visitors are asked to sign a pledge to support an accepting community in their own athletic worlds. So far, Hudson has 1,000+ signatures. All hail (and visit) a good cause.

Me, too: While hubby Andy Roddick gets plenty of ink about his form at the Aussie, Brooklyn Decker is sure to get some press on her own. The model/ actress (yes, actress) reportedly told Self that Papa Decker had to have an intervention with the youngster when she began her career so as not to “wreck her body.” Guess the talk worked.

Picture this: While everyone is clad in bursts of pastels and bright colors, we’re digging Sophie Ferguson in red, white and blue Fila. | More Fila on TSF

(“changing ends” screen shot via ao.com; ferguson via getty)

short balls: evgeni makes friends with richard’s fantasy world

It’s Platinum, Baby: The tennis world has long enjoyed the wacky one-liners of Richard Williams, and it seems as though Olympic figure skating silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko is trying to join Williams in the creative-story realm. Plushenko’s web site had its entry image (seen above) stating “Platinum of Vancouver”, taking a jab at his second-place finish last week. Though the site now looks differently upon entry, Yahoo! Sports and other outlets nabbed the image before it was taken down. Now the site reads “What’s Next?” while scrolling over the medals, which links to the 2014 Sochi Olympics web site. Does that mean Evgeni will stick with skating until then? Guess you can never be sure with him.

Sticking to the ice, American speedskater Ryan Bedford was supposedly convinced by older teammates to shave and dye his hair to resemble the American flag. See his ‘do after the jump.

Rights Fighting: University of Maryland wrestler, Hudson Taylor, is a top-ranked grappler in the NCAA. The straight 23-year-old and his wife-to-be are also avid supporters of LGBT issues and support gay marriage. In an interview with OutSports.com, Taylor calls himself a “feminist”. You go, boy.

Candied Britney: Britney Spears, in case you didn’t know from her music video for “Radar”, is a spokeswoman for Candies products.  She offered fans a behind-the-scenes peek at her latest photo shoot for the brand. What do you think? We’re not sure this one is gunna be a winner, y’all…

Martina’s Gallery: The WTA has a great gallery up chronicling the career of Martina Navratilova. Not only do you get a good chunk of information out of the captions, but you get a wonderful view of Martina’s fashions throughout the year. Our favorite is after the cut.

Differences Aside: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi will put their differences aside in a couple weeks to participate in a “Hit for Haiti” fundraiser at Indian Wells alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Sampras said he would like to “sit down” with Agassi after he was portrayed in poor light in Agassi’s recently-released autobiography.

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