short balls: it’s not over until the (small) lady sings


Justine Henin made her return to Belgian television earlier this week by singing and dancing on a variety TV show. Singing the song “Now It’s Time” on the show Cap 48. Was that lip synching we saw there, JuJu? Might have to refer to this video to figure it out. Hopefully Lady Henin didn’t re-injure her elbow in said dance routine, in which she wore a bright white pant suit, black dance shoes and had her hair put up. Now we get why she wants her phone on a desert island: she has the Autotune app.

Justine is scheduled to take on Kim Clijsters in an exhibition in December, though she hasn’t made her 2011 schedule public yet. Guga Kuerten is due to play an exhibition in his home country of Brazil in December as well, flying down former rival Andre Agassi for a little hit and giggle. Fame bound? Meanwhile, Andre headlines the 2011 ballot for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The last time Andre was in Newport? To help honor his wife Steffi during her own induction in 2007.

With the tennis season winding down, the exo season is picking up. The Belgians will do battle in their home country and Guga has Andre going south. Roger has invited Rafa up to Switzerland for a duel of their own, which, if the trailer runs true, will be mostly giggling and not much hitting. Stateside, no less than four exo’s will take place in November and December, with players like Anna Kournikova, Martina Navratilova, Mark Philippoussis, Mardy Fish and the Bryan Brothers participating in one event or another. (Line up: Surprise, Ariz. | Delray Beach | DC | Vero Beach, Fla.) (Exhibition info from tenniswire.org)

The season is prematurely over for a myriad of WTA ladies, including Venus, Serena and Maria Sharapova. The Williams sisters will not only miss the Season Ending Championships but also the Fed Cup finals, which they had expressed interest in playing after controversy swirled in their lack of participation in the team’s ties earlier in the year.

More of short balls – featuring short(er) balls – after the cut. [Read more...]

the justine diaries (in video mode)



The Belgian sports outlet Sporza has us on their videozone clip of Justine at Friday night’s adidas Barricade party. You remember, the one where we chatted it up with Justine about owning her own restaurant and wanting to take her phone on a desert island.

Click the image to watch the video, where we ask her about said phone on island.

(screen grab via sportzone.be)

the justine diaries



Justine with her fellow Barricade-wearers (Tsonga, Ivanovic, Murray) pose with the giant shoe cake at the adidas party Friday night in New York.

TSF got a chance to sit down with Justine Henin last night, a surprise guest at the adidas party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Barricade shoe. Henin injured herself at Wimbledon, and pulled out of the US Open earlier this summer before announcing that she wouldn’t be back to playing on the tour until 2011. We knew that Justine would be getting the run around about her injury, if she’s staying in New York to watch some of the Open and the like, so we thought we’d take a light-hearted approach and ask the Belgian a few off-the-wall questions and see if she might want to become NYC besties. -NM

TennisServedFresh: Justine great to see you. If you could own your own business after your tennis career, what would it be?
Justine Henin: I would like to have my own restaurant, I don’t know which kind, but I would have to have a place in Brussels. Maybe a place with nice wine, a place that I can go with my friends and have a nice dinner.
TSF: So maybe you could boss people around?
JH: Yes! Exactly! (Laughing.) I don’t know what kind of boss I would be. I don’t have that kind of experience so I’m not sure. But it interests me a great deal.

TSF: If you were stranded on a desert island, what one possession would you take with you?
JH: My phone. Even if it wouldn’t work. Me and my phone… I hate to be alone.
TSF: That’s surprising to me, since you seem so quiet.
JH: Right, that’s what you think! (Laughing.) I talk all the time. I always have my friends and family around. They are encouraging me to have alone time, but I love to be with them and to be social. I hate to be by myself. I know I look quiet, but that’s not the case. And maybe a book, too, I love to read.
TSF: What if you took an iPad? That way you could use Google phone and read your book.
JH: Perfect. I would love that.

TSF: What music are you listening to right now?
JH: I like French music. I listen to a lot of stuff from YouTube.
I really like a variety of stuff. I like Coldplay a lot, too.
TSF: Do you ever listen to yourself sing? You know, from your variety show days?
JH: Well I love to go sing karaoke and in the shower, yes.
TSF: What about having karaoke at your imaginary restaurant in Brussels?
JH: Oh yes! We’ll have karaoke after people have a few drinks. (Laughing.)

TSF: What’s your absolute favorite city in the world?
JH:
For me, it’s Paris. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. You can look in any direction in Paris and everything looks so beautiful. I love that place in terms of history – my mom was a history teacher – and it is a place of such great culture. I don’t think I could ever live there, but I love it. And I love Montreal, too.

TSF: You’re always so fit and eating so healthy. What’s one thing in New York that you’ll chow down on while you’re here?
JH:
I don’t know. I wouldn’t go for a big burger… maybe a nice big breakfast with waffles and pancakes. A big brunch? Or New York cheesecake sounds good.

(photo by TSF)

players manage balancing act while prepping for nyc’s big show



Kim Clijsters threw out the first pitch after meeting the Mets team in Queens on Friday in New York. A day earlier, she was the USTA’s guest of honor at the draw ceremony (AP photo via Yahoo! Sports).

RalphLauren.com pulled out all the stops on Thursday afternoon for an event featuring Venus Williams, in which Venus took questions from online submissions from around the world in a live clinic. At the Sportime Randall’s Island tennis center in New York, Venus was on court for the first time in a public setting since her eyebrow-raising loss to Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. But instead of thwacking errors and a look of confusion, Venus was all smiles and tennis knowledge in the clinic, which was hosted by the British TV personality (and former player) Annabel Croft.

Venus, who is the no. 3 seed at the US Open and one of the favorites though she hasn’t been on tour in two months, talked fitness, forehands and gave plenty of tennis tips from her 26 years of experience on the court. The event was hosted by Ralph Lauren and Mercedes Benz, based on RL’s homepage for viewers to log in and watch live while Venus answered questions relayed by Croft. (Watch a full replay of the clinic here or click on the image after the jump.)

“It’s good for me to remember the basics when I’m about to play a big tournament,” Venus said, referring to the Open. Venus partnered with Ralph Lauren in the design of the dress she wore, a white number emblazoned with the logo of Eleven, Venus’s clothing line.

Guests were greeted with sweet mint tea, pistachio ice cream sandwiches and caramelized popcorn on the upper deck at Randall’s Island, which hosts the New York Sportimes during the World Team Tennis seasons. Male models clad in red Ralph Lauren polos dished out the goods as Venus strode through the crowd on her way to hair and make up (this was a live, online clinic, after all).

The clinic was a part of a myriad of events happening in New York this week, which all lead up to the big show at Flushing Meadows starting on Monday.

[Read more...]

sunday survey: halfway grades



Halfway through 2010 we have two players who have each won two Slams: Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer started the year in strong fashion, winning the Australian Open and re-asserting himself into the top seat of men’s tennis. Since then it’s been a slippery slope for Fed, while no woman has had the consistent results to keep up with Queen Serena.

Andy Murray and Justine Henin both almost had big-time breakthroughs in Melbourne, but neither have proved themselves since, sending more question marks about what their futures hold. Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone made big names for themselves in Paris, while Venus Williams has lost to three B-list players in her three Slam outings this year (while going 22-3 otherwise).

The men have welcomed Tomas Berdych and Robin Soderling into the circle of current greats after their respective Slam runs, while Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic have underperformed in many peoples’ eyes. The same can go for Elena Dementieva, Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic, all who have had opportunities to make big runs and stumbled in one fashion or another.

So we ask: Who gets the best first-half grade for the season from you? Choose from the big guns, or let us know a player or two (perhaps Dustin Brown?!) who you think might be knocking on the door as the next big thing in tennis?

(photo by ratsj via flickr)