short balls: rog’s b-day, serena’s love life, worst fashion and more

Oh, Canada! It’s been a wacky and weird week in Canada — both at the women’s event in Toronto and for the men in Montreal. Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all saw early exits, as did top women Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki. Are we in for such a tumultuous two weeks at Flushing Meadows, too?! Hopefully the top tier will have their games a little more finely tuned for the USO. Oh right, and did we mention the power outages? Yes, there were several. Draws: Men | Women

Better with age: Federer wasn’t the only one celebrating a birthday this last week. The Swiss Mister turned the big 3-0 in Canada and while there have been plenty of questions surrounding the aging of the GOAT, the Tour took a few days to celebrate the former world no. 1′s turning of age. While Federer is under increased pressure as he grows older, 90-year-old Donald Van Blake doesn’t have such weight on his shoulders. The teaching pro who helped motivate a generation of tennis players was celebrated this last week in Central Jersey, over 100 people attending the festivities at a local tennis complex.

The Serena Times: While it’s great to have Serena Williams back on the court for tennis’ sake, the first female of the sport never disappoints headline-wise off the court, either. This week, there was plenty of ink action for SW: a pilot for a reality TV show that centers around a nail salon that Serena has supposedly been rejected (reported by New York Daily News) by Lifetime (and OWN). But Serena got to do Oprah‘s toes, so that’s enough, right?! Additionally, Serena was spotted hanging and hitting a few balls with rapper Drake at a South Florida resort recently. Dating?! Is Common officially outta the picture? | TSF Vault: Serena

Fashion, now: The crew at TennisNow.com has put together a slideshow of the worst tennis fashion of all time, but with a little twist. It’s their “non-Williams” edition, meaning both Venus and Serena didn’t get considered for wacky outfits for the summer. Cue the Bethanie Mattek-Sands shots!

short(er) balls: Before she bowed out from play in Canada, Clijsters had a great Q&A with SI’s Jon Wertheim. One take away: girl’s got no time for Snooki. | Eating curry can help cure tennis elbow? One study says so. | Just over a week away, New Haven makes final preparations and checks in with two-time defending champion Wozniacki. Plus, the tourney has offered a wildcard to Venus Williams, who pulled out of Cincy. | A tennis dad beats up a player in the stands — for cheering against his daughter. Take that, Jim Pierce! The beaten player, Elise Tamaele, is listed on the WTA site. | Crowds in DC for the Legg Mason Classic were down this year, from 75,039 last year to 67,161 this year. | Martha’s Vineyard tennis fashion? WASPs have never been so WASP-y. | Elena Dementieva — and that Yonex dress — play in an exhibition in Russia.

fila’s 100 years on display at the hall of fame museum


Fine time for Fila: Monica, Boris, Kim and others are all hanging out at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum – well, at least their clothes are. As part of the celebration of Fila turning 100 years old, a rotating collection of the company’s clothes through the last century is on display at the museum over the next 10 or so months, after the exhibition began in mid June. Fila is also featuring an interactive microsite, Fila.com/100, which we wrote about last month. Fans can scroll through the outfits of Monica Seles, Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas and click on whether they would wear such threads today (do we sense an upcoming retro line?!). Our fave part of the microsite? The umpire collections from past US Opens. Seriously, bring back those umpire polos from the 1989 USO! We love, love, love!

But the Fila folks didn’t just through this celebration together with a few fun things to click on and leave it at that. On the microsite is an entire interactive timeline of the 100 years of the company, which takes you through the brand’s early development starting in 1911 and then looks at its growth to eventually include tennis greats like Pam Shriver and Evonne Gollagong, while looking at the brand’s dabbling in sailing, golf, skiing, swim and other sports wear. We dig it. You can even watch old Fila commercial (we recommend Monica’s 1990 spot), as well. And the brand even explores its basketball roots, looking at famous 90s stars Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse. Remember when?! | TSF Vault: Fila

Browsing: But if you want more of an in-person experience rather than online, the Hall of Fame exhibition will be up until around June of 2012. While it features the likes of Seles (top of the post) and a look through the men’s wear on court through the years (above), it will include four totally different shows from the brand, each living in the museum for about three months. The Hall of Fame Museum is open 9:30 to 5 everyday of the year, sans Christmas and Thanksgiving. Plan your visit.

After the cut: our favorite pieces from the Fila 100 collection and a one more look at the Museum display. [Read more...]

short balls: just short of sw19

Ruffled around the edges. Serena is 1-1 heading into Wimbledon, 2011. She got bright colors (and losing?) out of her system before descending upon London. | More Serena: The younger Williams has promised fans some karaoke sessions while at her first Major in a year. Yep, she’s got a portable karaoke machine. And yes, she’s trying to corral Andy Murray into doing it with her.

Tennis, meet fashion. | Obviously we (and you!) know that tennis fashion is a year-round sort of gig, but the biggest events are Wimbledon and the US Open — at least from a fashion POV. So for tomorrow night’s players’ party at Richard Branson’s digs, the Telegraph in London is laying out which ladies are wearing which designers. Caroline Wozniacki is unsurprisingly rocking Stella McCartney while Serena will be sporting some Burberry. Vivienne Westwood? That honor goes to one Jelena Jankovic. Work it, ladies!

Bring it, Yao! | Li Na is certainly set up for life. Imagine if this chick wins another Slam?! China might demand that it be able to host its own Major. Experts are saying that with her win at the French, Li will surpass Yao Ming, the NBA star, in marketing prowess. We’re a little blown over by that claim, but the Nike-sponsored hard-hitter already has several offers up and running with IMG,  her reps. Li, who currently has contracts with Nike, Rolex and — get this! — Haagen-Dazs ice cream could start to clean up. An industry expert in China puts it this way: “She will bring you the ‘light bulb moment’ as an international professional athlete. She is good at her sports, and her personality combines western civilization and oriental wisdom. She is frank, sincere with a steady and relaxed style,” explained Qiang Wei, a sports marketing director.

Clijsters withdraws from Wimbledon | No, seriously. She’s out. And WTT? They’ve already gone looking for a summer replacement.

Heather Watson is 2011′s Laura Robson … just sayin’.

Wimbledon greats. Ten of them, to be exact. The best ten matches from SW 19′s history. They’re stacked up — oddly? — by BestCollegesOnline.net. This is a great selection! And the video clips are surreal to watch one after the other.

More surreality: Andy Murray hits two (two!) tweeners in win over JWS

Tennis in Times Square. If you wanted more visuals from our post about the US Open tickets sales event in Times Square, TSF contributor and Tennis.com intern Benjamin Snyder put together a pretty snappy gallery. And how about his one-on-one with Judah Friedlander in the captions? We dig.

Pimms with lemonade? On the Tennis Channel website, columnist James LaRosa has conjured up the most hilarious (and ridiculous) Wimbledon drinking game we’ve even encountered. And we love it.

Short(er) balls: Because we know Erwin (and Troy!) care, just a note to say that Mary Kate and Ashley turned 25 on Monday. OMG! | Jon Wertheim? He picks Serena to win Wimbledon. | Sure, Roger Federer is a cute dad, but we don’t think he falls into the “hot” realms of David Beckham. | ATP Executive Chairman Adam Helfant will step down at the end of 2011. | The new home of British heiress Petra Ecclestone? Don’t worry, it has a tennis court. (And cost over $100 million.) | We’ll be at the HSBC exo on Monday with Monica Seles and Jim Courier. We’ll bring the sunscreen (for Jim!) and you guys bring the Grunt-o-Meter.

(Serena image via Getty; Watson vid via WTA)

sunday survey: week one's 1-2 punch

Fabulous Franny: There’s been no stopping the Italian at this year’s French — so far. (Getty)

Era’s first. For the first time in the Open era the women’s no. 1 and no. 2 seeds are out of the tournament before the second week has even begun. For Kim Clijsters it was a dismal performance against unheralded Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus (who was promptly dispatched in the next round by Maria Kirilenko 1 and 1, thank you very much), in which she blew second-set match points. And for top seed Caroline Wozniacki it was an almost-as-bad showing against the always-lurking Daniela Hantuchova, bowing out 1-6 3-6.

But what was the biggest story line of the first week of the year’s second Slam? Novak Djokovic continued his impenetrable run through the men of the tour — a run not even 2009 US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro could stop. Roger and Rafa looked to be in all-right form thus far, though last year’s semifinalist Tomas Berdych continued his downward slide in a first-round loss to a French qualifier. And what about Francesca Schiavone? The defending champ that no one gave a chance was work-lady-like in her week one at Roland Garros, finding a spot in the QFs with a convincing 6-4-in-the-third win over Jelena Jankovic. And has everyone already forgotten about Sam Stosur??

What was the biggest story of week one? Your pick, below.

 

fashion focus: for fila, kimmie does the monica

The 80s are back with a vengeance in Fila‘s Spring Collection, worn by Kim Clijsters as she makes a run for a French Open title after two months on the sidelines. This small throwback line (top, jacket, visor, skirt) is listed in the company’s lookbook as the “Monica” — referring to Monica Seles, of course — but it turns out there’s a more personal story for Kimmie:

This collection’s inspired by an outfit she received as a Christmas gift from her parents in the mid-80s (and 80s it is — part Balzac, part L.A. Gear!), and keeps with Fila’s campaign to fete the 100th anniversary of the brand. Their first Champions collection debuted at the Australian, when Kim played in a green outfit similar to one worn by Evonne Goolagong-Cawley back in the day.

Dust off the rust(-colored clay): The second-seeded Clijsters is onto the second round of the French after taking out Anastasiya Yakimova 6-2, 6-3. She will next face qualifer Arantxa Rus. (Draw: RG Women’s Singles)

The clothes: The color palette includes fuschia, white, and deep blue. Note the jacket constructed in shiny crinkle taslin — the fabric used for most of activewear back in the day (sadly, they left out the shoulder pads!). It might be overkill to wear all the pieces together, so we suggest picking up the skort and that warm-up jacket. (What do you think of the collection? Too much? Just right? Tell us!)

Buy: Fila Champions Collection – Vintage Top, $41.99; Tennis Skort, $36.99; Tennis Jacket, $52.99; Tennis Visor, $18.99.

(Full-body match photo by AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau; other match photo by Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images)

roland garros bracketology: the ladies

By Christopher Phillips

[Ed note: Chris Phillips, part of TSF West, files his thoughts on who's hot, who's not and who might just make a run at this year's Roland Garros. -NEM]

Franny was feeling it last year. But can she re-capture her Parisian glory?

Caroline Wozniacki | I know Caro’s spring hasn’t been the best, but she’s 15-3 on the dirt, winning in Charleston in April. Yes, she lost to upstart German Julia Goerges twice and went out to Maria Sharapova in Rome, but with her earliest loss being the round of 16 in Madrid, I still think she has to be the favorite going in — just not as big of one as she was a few weeks ago. Result: Runner-up (to Kvitova in three-set loss)

Maria Sharapova | I’ve always been a bigger fan of Maria on clay than she has been herself.  She won Rome beating four of its top ten seeds (Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur and Shahar Peer) without too much difficulty and went out the week before that to former FO semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid in the round of 16. A semifinalist back in 2007 and three-time quarterfinalist, Maria pushed Justine Henin to three sets last year before bowing out.  She’s got nothing to lose. Result: Semifinal

Francesca Schiavone | I think I was the only one who wasn’t surprised — okay, completely surprised — by her victory last year. Even though her results on clay this year have been sub-par, I think Franny will have more confidence and desire going into Roland Garros than she did last year. But will it all come together? Result: Quarterfinal

Vera Zvonareva | She’s only played two clay court tournaments all season losing to Stosur and Petra Kvitova but Vera is as unpredictable as her emotions — you can’t count her out. Result: Semifinal

Victoria Azarenka | She’s 12-3 on clay this year but was forced to retire against Sharapova in her last match. Azarenka’s best victory on the dirt this season has been over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. And here’s something that might surprise you: Of the five times she’s played the French, she’s lost in the first round three out of five tries – including last year to Gisela Dulko. Result: Quarterfinal

Petra Kvitova | The Madrid champion (and Prague challenger finalist … what?!) has wins over Zvonareva, Li Na and Azarenka on the dirt. But can she make a deep run here? Result: Champion

Kim Clijsters | She’s decided to play Roland Garros, her first clay court tournament of the season after injuring her foot in April. A two-time finalist and semifinalist last year, she’ll be a contender but I don’t know if she’ll be a threat. It all depends which Kimmie shows up, and the two months of not playing could help or hurt — depending on how you look at it. Result: Fourth round

Sam Stosur | Since Roland Garros last year, where Stosur reached the final, she was yet to make it to the finals of another tournament until this past week in Rome. Granted, her loss to Sharapova wasn’t pretty, Stosur has beaten Zvonareva, Schiavone and Li Na in the past few weeks on red clay. She was a semifinalist in 2009 and came into the French last year on a hot streak but can she repeat her success? As we’ve learned with Sam, it’s up to her head more than anything else if that forehand can swing freely — and controlled. Result: Fourth round

Jelena Jankovic | Jankovic has underperformed as well this year but she’s reached the semis in Paris three times before. If she equals that mark again, I don’t think many would consider it a surprise. More trouble: Janky upset in Brusells Result: Fourth round

Li Na | Li started 2011 on a hot streak Down Under, but has fizzled since. The last two weeks she’s shown signs of life again with semifinal appearances in both Madrid and Rome. Granted Li had no real significantly mentionable wins in those two tournaments, maybe that’ll be the kick she needs to get back on track for the year in Paris where she’s never lost before the third round. Result: Fourth round

Who are the dark horses in the women’s field? Find out after the cut.

[Read more...]

in miami, a stroll down peekaboo street

When in Florida, do as the Miamians do — show skin! The ladies playing in this week’s Sony Ericsson Open did their part, with keyholes and other cutouts showing up in kits during match play.

From left to right: Dominika Cibulkova in Lacoste; Kim Clijsters in Fila‘s Center Court Cap Sleeve Top (Buy); Ana Ivanovic in the adiZero Dress (Buy). Not pictured: the adidas Response tank, worn by the likes of Andrea Petkovic during practice; see it here.

Brackets: Kimmie is still in the running for the SEO title after that super-close three-set fourth-round match against Ivanovic (poor Ana was up 1-5 in the third and had five match points). She now faces Vika Azarenka for a spot in the semis. (Browse: SEO Draws)

(images via Getty Images)

clijsters lends her hand(writing) to the japanese cause

Fundraiser: Kim Clijsters did her part to raise awareness and funds for those affected by the tsunami that hit Japan while the tennis world had all eyes at Indian Wells. Working with her sponsor, Fila, a shirt was designed and turned around in about a week — ready for sale at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne. All proceeds will be donated to relief efforts.

Info: We’re not really big on wearing autographed things, but this one’s an exception: men’s versions available for $30 (in red or navy); women’s in black and red for $28. Unfortunately, only for sale at the tournament. They’re selling like hotcakes, so hopefully those who want it can get it.

Brackets: Kimmie is still in the running for the SEO title. She faces Ana Ivanovic today for a spot in the quarters. The winner will meet Vika Azarenka. (Draws: SEOpen)

Group Shot! Two more images of the players wearing their Japan shirts after the cut. We love Victor Troicki‘s photo face! [Read more...]

short balls: serena's out, 3d's in and mac's prodigy

By Benjamin Snyder

You know behind those smiles that they’re actually pissed on how their outfits clash.

The WTA’s number one saga continues as Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters head to the BNP Paribas Open. But, get this: The not-so-intense rivalry between the two smile-y blondes started much earlier than people imagined, reports Matt Cronin. In fact, it was Kim’s late dad who first picked up on Caro’s “sunny disposition,” reminding him of his daughter’s own. Okay, so maybe that does not a rivalry make, and it’s more corny than anything. We can still hope for some drama between the two, can’t we? We’re ready for those pink dresses to get a little dirty.

The ATP doesn’t have any dirty pink dresses (well, at least not that we know of… ) but there’s plenty of controversy swirling around the boys these days. Davis Cup sparked quite enough juicy, male drama, especially from France’s Gilles Simon. He recently called out French Captain Guy Forget‘s coaching style, saying, “Guy has a vision for action and I play more in response. Guy was an attacking player. He won the Davis Cup and Bercy with aggression. That’s how he sees the game and I respect that, but it does not stick at all to my game.”

For more, check out FootFault‘s take here. Our thoughts? Simmer down, Simon. You might want to keep your mouth shut until you actually get a W out of a big-time Davis Cup match. But otherwise, how’s your kid, Gilles? Hopefully he’s as cute as you.

Serena Williams, as we all know by now, isn’t returning to court any time soon, although she’s raring to get back to hitting. She recently thanked us, the little people, on her website. And here we were convinced Serena thought only she existed in the world… “I am overwhelmed, and teary eyed by all the love and support from everyone. I am so blessed to have caring love from everyone.” Yes, guys, feel special. It’s the first time Serena has written something over 140 characters since her failed screenplay.

In Fenville, Michicgan, the tragic death of a high school basketball player has rocked the small town. Wes Leonard, 16, passed away shortly after securing a 65-64 win and a perfect, 20-0 season for the Black Hawks. For a moving tribute, read this powerful piece from ESPN.com’s LZ Granderson on Wes’ wisdom beyond his years.

In the wake of these heartbreaking stories, some pretty cool, uplifting ones are on the radar in the tennis world, too. There’s Wimbledon‘s move to stream the finals in 3D around the world. It’s time to exchange the strawberries and cream for popcorn and soda. Then there’s the tale of an up-and-coming John McEnroe prodigy in the form of a 12-year old girl. This girl, Ingrid Neel, is the real deal – according to McEnroe.  “The way she played, the look in her eye, made me think that maybe it was the 2011 version of what I would look like now, only a girl,” he says.  We’re ready when you are, Ingrid. The juniors could certainly use some tiny, pre-teen drama.

stay, don’t go

By Jonathan Scott

Another brand of March Madness is upon us: With the unisex goodness that is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells tournament, the 2011 pro tennis campaign kick-starts into high gear. This 1-2 punch of Cali and Miami makes for a full month of top-notch tennis. Indeed, spring’s done sprung.

Now a curious trend seeped into tennis again in 2010: jumpy observers of the sport seeking to retire players -– good, even great stars who reaped some solid results -– before they themselves are ready to hang up their racquets. The guilty parties: too many tennis writers and other observers and “personalities” involved to various degrees. Their victims? Among them, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and even Roger Federer, proving that not a single star is exempt from these hasty calls to exit.

But Roddick won Memphis last month, dousing the ballyhooed, raging fire that is young Milos Raonic and coming up with possibly the best championship-point winner ever. He also ignited his fellow Americans’ effort on the Chilean clay in Davis Cup, punctuating his clinching win with a scissor kick (Video: here) that would make Sally O’Malley salivate. Too many quickly forgot that Venus seized some early 2010 titles and vaulted to no. 2 in the world before injuries in part derailed both her autumnal and 2011 Aussie exploits. (Oddly, she’s now singing 311 karaoke on a MIA-to-Turks cruiseship and showing off some fly dance moves for someone with chronic knee issues.). Fed himself ran the table at the London year-end championships in December, outdoing even Rafael Nadal in the final, and snagged an early 2011 title before a taking-all-comers Novak Djokovic rolled over him in Melbourne.

Still, retirement happens. It’s inevitable. Justine Henin’s departure has itself turned into a piece of music with multiple movements, the strings swelling and falling at different points. Henin has been like that lover who breaks it off and then loiters for attention: Mercy. And merci.

All of the brouhaha catalyzed a thought: Who or what in the sport truly needs to go?

Without further ado, a few items –- persons, peccadillos, and other pesky minutiae –- that best get gone. Now. Conversely, some other talents and trends are welcome to get comfy. So there it is: Stay, or Go.

GO: Foremost, let’s be done with the freak injuries. Some stars are making the maladies on TV hospital dramas seem realistic: Victoria Azarenka scarily passed out on court after bopping her head during a warm-up run, and then Anna Chakvetadze did her best Vika impression. Meanwhile Andy Murray strained his hand by playing video games excessively (okay, that one proved a fib). It seems a few players just need to be grounded.

Granted, Serena’s recent pulmonary embolism/hematoma scare is more than legit. Anyone who relishes compelling tennis, even if no fan of hers, whether onlooker or media, can only hope she makes it back into the mix again. Tennis needs her fight and her bite. Not every player needs to be Mama Kim Clijsters, portrait of civility.

Speaking of, GO: Can we just be done with all the talk about Clijsters’ motherhood? Cute turned to precious in a hurry there, and not in a good way.

GO: That hand-strain hoax aside, Murray might want to consider tempering his video gaming: Girlfriend Kim Sears reportedly already broke up with him once over the habit. Word to the wise, young gun: the lady has you on watch.

Judy Murray, we heart thee.

GO. STAY. Good dog: Not to pick on the Murray familia too much (see below), but what of these tweets from the family’s resident cur, this Maggie? So let it be written, so let it be done: No more Murray mutt tweets, at least not until Andy bags that virgin Major. It’s no less lame to put your pet on Twitter than it is to fashion a Facebook profile for it.

STAY: Judy Murray, British tennis coach and mom to Andy and Jamie. Yes, she advises her son. She also isn’t afraid to shoot a witty retort at a former player who yaps about her spawn’s chances at winning big with her on board.

GO: Boris Becker. Just let it be, Boorish. You were a fine player, a flame-maned, serve-and-volley stud on grass. Then you knocked Murray and his mum for his underperforming at Slams, chiding him for his closeness to Judy and (good grief!) for standing by his girl at age 23. So a former player cheats on his pregnant wife with a Russian model (in a closet), resulting in a lust child, and then doles out unsolicited relational advice? Laughable. Not content to merely stand by his statements from the fall, BB waxed on again after Murray’s mopey, one-sided loss to Nole in the Aussie final. Sigh. Everyone’s a Carillo. Click to read more, kids. You don’t want to miss these musings.

[Read more...]