wta pre-wimbledon party: no grey areas

Black and white: The ladies of the WTA know how to play with a good margin of error, and it’s hard to go wrong with donning some black and white to a party. Laura Robson took a simple, cap-sleeve dress to the next level with a scooping neckline; Sorana Cirstea played sexy peekaboo with lace; Tsvetana Pironkova bared a shoulder and threw on a leather belt; Francesca Schiavone channeled Diane Keaton, Caroline Wozniacki wore Stella McCartney, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova matched her updo with a cocktail (napkins) dress, aaaand Monica Niculescu.

More: See the rest of the black and white ladies from the WTA pre-Wimbledon party after the cut…

the tsf interview with laura robson

Walking up to the grounds for day one of Wimbledon in 2009, I was surprised to hear most English tennis fans weren’t really talking about Andy Murray or the Rafa-Roger rivalry, but instead about the new starlet of British tennis: Laura Robson.

The year before, Laura had won the Girl’s Singles title at Wimbledon, becoming the first home-grown champion in the singles bracket since 1984 and launching her into a kind of celebrity that garnered her an opening-day billing on Court No. 2 at the Championships in 2009. And this just wasn’t any opening-day match, but rather one that was opening the new stadium, making Robson the name to watch on the court’s first-ever match.

Since her run at Wimbledon in ’08 and her ’09 ceremonial opening, Robson has made a habit of playing a contained schedule mixed of both girlsjunior events and WTA and ITF circuit matches. The past two US Opens, the 16-year-old Brit has bowed out in the the third round of qualifying, just short of a shot at the main draw.

This week in Tokyo, however, Robson qualified for the main draw [PDF] of a WTA tournament for just the second time in her career (Birmingham, 2010). She lost in the opening round to Greta Arn, but some say the calculated approach by Team Robson to keep the young Brit on a light schedule and continue to grow her physically and mentally (she played one official tournament between Wimbledon and the Open) could pay dividends in her future.

But before we get all crystal ball on you, we were happy to get a few questions into Laura via email. She’s an active Tweeter, with a good sense of (dry, British) humor, and has professed love for Neil Patrick Harris, Chipotle, YouTube watching, Bikram yoga, fantasy football (soccer) and much, much more.

TSF: If you could meet Neil Patrick Harris in person, what would you ask him?

Laura Robson: I would ask “How did you get so cool?”.

TSF: After winning a match in the States, are you most likely headed to a Chipotle? How many times did you go there while in New York?

LR: After a match I am most likely to head anywhere that is going to be relatively quick, Chipotle is perfect for that reason. We must have gone there 5 or 6 times throughout the whole trip.

TSF: What’s your hidden talent? Like something that would make you a YouTube star?

LR: I can juggle pretty well. Really bad singers also become popular on YouTube. I could be one of those people.

TSF: Last year it was “Party in the USA.” What song are you jamming out to at this US Open?

LR: This US Open I was rocking out to Lenny Kravitz, Drake and I listen to a lot of Dubstep music (if you haven’t heard any Dubstep, YouTube ‘Four Floors (Diplo Edit) – Sunday Girl‘). Sounds amazing on massive speakers.

More with Laura Robson, BFF to FortyDeuceTwits, after the cut. [Read more...]

short balls: wimby’s week 2

Week two at The Championships, Wimbledon is coming to a close. It’s most certainly been a wild ride, and TSF is pretty sure that this is one of our more favorite slams from the last few years. Can the final weekend produce the high-quality tennis (and drama!) that would put the cream on top of the strawberries?? We hope so. For now, let’s get to those short balls that haven’t quite been bouncing on the court but have been getting plenty action off of it…

Thumbs up to the folks over at Flavorwire for coming up with the seven films that are longer than the Isner-Mahut match. Didn’t know they existed? Neither did we. At first we didn’t think there could be anything more boring than watching two men serve bomb after bomb at one another for 11 hours, but The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World (48 hours) sounds absolutely torturous. But don’t worry, that’s just a third the length of Cinematon, which is almost a week long (150 hours). Hand over the popcorn and the triple shot cappuccino, y’all, we’re gunna need it!

The city of San Diego is double fist-pumping after it was announced earlier this week that it will host the Fed Cup final between the US and Italy. San Diego lost its beloved WTA Tour stop two years ago during a restructuring by the tour, but it was announced earlier this year that the Mercury Insurance Open would return to the tennis hotbed, and with the announcement of the Fed Cup final San Diego is swagging like Birmingham, Ala., did a few months ago.

The days of teen domination of the WTA Tour? Probably over. At least that’s what Doug Robson wrote this week in USA Today, siting the success of veterans Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva at recent slams. Want other evidence that the teens are going the way of the dinosaur on tour? Robson notes just one teen is in the top 10 (can you name her?!) and six are in the top 100. Speaking of the youngsters: Brit Laura Robson (no relation to Doug) has advanced to the semifinals of the juniors draw at Wimbledon.

Want some French fashion to make your Wimbledon feel complete? Yeah, we understand that doesn’t make complete sense, but if Serena can don her nails in diamonds and strawberries, then we can help reveal the secrets of a French woman’s style. What’s stylish for a former Wimbledon champ from France who’s now retired? See above. She couldn’t look better, even as a coach.

And yes, we heard about Jennifer Capriati this week. Who didn’t? But, what to write? It’s impossible to know whether the claims of a suicide attempt are true, or if Capriati was indeed taking prescription medications or if it was another type of overdose. In any case, this might have been the kind of incident that will turn Capriati’s life for the better. As far as we knew here at TSF, she was still mulling a comeback to the tour, but it might be safe now to officially write “Retired” next to her name and see her blossoming in new and different ways. We can only hope.

(photo by getty images)

tennis’ reception line for queen elizabeth II

…And ‘Best Dressed’ goes to: Perhaps it’s the American in us, but we were all about Andy Roddick and his wearing a white blazer to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Day 4 of the 2010 Wimbledon tournament. (The tailored Federer suit is so predictable!) QEII attended the day’s session to watch Andy Murray play his second-round match against Jarrko Nieminen.

Roddick and his jacket (we can only assume it’s Lacoste) was part of a reception line which included Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Laura Robson, Jelena Jankovic, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki Kai-Chen Chang, Roger Federer, and Serena Williams (who’d been practicing her moves in anticipation of this meeting!).

As Nick said earlier, Her Majesty wore the perfect color to complement the bright green grass of the AELTC. It’s a boost to the sport to see her around these parts.

(images via AP)

short balls: the in-between edition

Ed note: We were planning on getting a podcast up for djy’all’s enjoyment this week, but real life got in the way. Check out TSF early next week for a Roland Garros wrap-up and a look-ahead to The Championships, Wimbledon. -NM

In case you missed it in our last post, there is something called the World Cup going on in South Africa. It’s the biggest athletic event of its kind on the globe, and will be happening for the next month (!) as 32 teams battle it out for the cup. The media has covered this event from every possible angle, and I wanted to share a couple of those with you faithful folk. The first is a bit historical and artsy: the history of the World Cup soccer ball (compiled by the NYT). The second is a bit of the shallow variety, but it’s worth it.

While some people might not be very impressed with Maria Sharapova‘s Birmingham warm-up frocks (and we sort of agree), the Russian lady was out in the community supporting the game of tennis for youth and unveiling a mural put together by local artists. The WTA put together a video of the scene (linked above in the image, too).

One former player who knew how to paint the court with winners, Monica Seles, was featured on the WTA’s web site last week. Can she joing the comeback train, too?! She’s our second pick behind Mary, Our Lady of Roland Garrolupe. Seeing as though there are now two Italians in the WTA’s top ten, it wouldn’t be the craziest of things to happen.

Laura Robson was in a bit of hot water over the weekend for quotes that she provided to Vogue UK for an upcoming article in the British pub. From the looks of her Twitter account, Robson got the memo from her PR team to issue some sort of response (later a full press release was issued) and since then has been a rather silent Sally while winning four matches (three in qualifying) at Birmingham. Talk about adding to the pressure for this year’s Championships.

After the cut: Shorter balls and a look at the second-ever outdoor WNBA game (along with the first!). [Read more...]

short balls: trench foast

Well, day five of the French Open is already underway and you’ve got to be thankful for a little Grand Slam reprieve in your life! I know I am! It really is a blast to have all those scores coming in and matches to pay attention to.

Victoria Azarenka and Dinara Safina didn’t pay too much attention to their respective matches, and they were the only big (big) names to crash out in the first round of the tournament. Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all survived five-set encounters to move on to round two.

If you were wondering about the Roland Garros poster, the New York Times Straight Sets blog has the nitty gritty from Pakistani-born Indian artist Nalini Malani, who designed it this year. I’ve gotta say it’s something I always look forward to – seeing what sort of art the French will include for their home slam. And if you’ve done a little digging on the Roland Garros web site, you’re probably a fan of My Little Roland Garros, under the Event Guide. Plenty of fun (TSF-inspired?!) stuff happening in there.

Laura Robson might be skipping out on the French this year (smart choice, we think), but the British gal isn’t skipping out on the opportunity to make good of her recent rise to stardom. She has partnered with Right to Play, a non-profit that encourages youth to take up sports as a way to community building and improved confidence. Robson is doing plenty with the project, including wearing the RTP wristband at Wimbledon and asking her fans to design what style she will wear during this year’s U.S. Open.

New York City is hosting the second annual Kicking and Screening film festival June 1-5 in honor of all things soccer on the screen. Good timing with the World Cup kicking off on June 6. We love to see such collaboration between art and sport, and the festival is just that: over five days ten films will be shown including an already-sold out day five. To add to the visual appeal, the organizers have booked a freestyle juggling group called FreestyleSoccer to wow the crowds on June 3.

Read more short balls after the jump and see the Right to Play image featuring Laura Robson. [Read more...]

short balls: thoughts from miami

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Now we are seeing where Jada gets that hair. We were starting to wonder a little… (WTA photo via web site)

The past couple weeks were full of tennis glamour in Miami, and Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters came away from the beaches of Florida with smiles on their faces as they won big-time titles in impressive fashion. We’ve got to hand it to Roddick for continuing to change his game and try to break the top crop of the ATP Tour. Wimbledon 2009 may not have been his final stand in a Major. We’ll stay tuned.

Measuring Beauty: A New York Times article out yesterday touched on feminine beauty taking on a new role as Baylor star basketball player Brittney Griner becomes a household name. Griner stands 6 feet, 8 inches, and has had her sexuality – and gender identity – questioned. But even Stella McCartney insiders recognized her unique look as gorgeous, the article says.

Oh-des-don’t! Things are looking rather bleak for Wayne Odesnik’s tennis future after news broke that vials of human growth hormones were found in his luggage in Australia. Want the full story? Bonnie D. Ford has a tremendous summary here, complete with quotes from other American players. Wondering why Odes is still playing in Houston this week? The charges against him are being investigated and no formal ATP rulings have been made.

Robson, Mississippi: A few hundred miles away from Wayne-mania in Houston, Britain’s Laura Robson is playing in her first event since making the junior final at the Australian Open. Robson joins top-seeded American Lindsay Lee-Waters and second seed Julia Cohen in Jackson, Mississippi for the 25K ITF circuit event.

An unexpected Miami trio and more after the cut. [Read more...]