serena clocks in

Blue-collar dress-up: We all know Serena Williams means business, but we didn’t expect her to shed all the frills while vying for the 2010 Wimbledon Ladies’ titles (singles and doubles).

The tournament’s top seed, in her simple white Nike dress (with red piping), was not her usual, fashion-forward self. She looked more like an orderly. Or like she was ready to make my hash browns doubled, covered, and smothered.

But in defense of Nike, Masha‘s dress is gorgeous (with the petal skirt), and their standard issue for both the Sharapova line and the Wimbledon drop are pretty solid. More on those later.

Draw: Serena beat Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-0, 6-4. Yikes, that must’ve been a loud match. Up next is Anna Chakvetadze, who dropped the first set before winning against Andrea Petkovic. (Browse: See the ladies’ bracket here.)

Buy: Nike Control Lawn Women’s Tennis Dress, in white/Voltage Cherry, $80, nike.com.

(image via Getty Images)

wta headshots: part 1

If you’ve ever paid a visit to the WTA Tour’s web site, you were sure to notice the vast array of headshots used in player profiles. Unlike the theatre world, the business world or even the APT’s site – where there’s a standard for what a headshot might look like – the WTA seems to have allowed the players to submit any picture they choose. ANY PICTURE! So, TSF introduces the WTA Headshots series. Here we’ll present headshots and predict where these pictures might have shown up otherwise, giving bios and pseudo news reports solely based on the images themselves… your guesses are welcome, too!

Picture 1Dinara Safina | Dinara has been selected Miss Pensacola Valley Mall 2009 by the Beautification Realization Team after a dazzling performance on the mall’s catwalk last weekend. Dressed in a ’70s-inspired purple blouse with floral pattern criss-crossing her top, Dinara danced to “Unwritten”, the Natasha Bedingfield hit for the talent portion. Her subtle purple eye shadow and well-put-together, straightened hair was a hit with Beautification Team member Cindy Sorwell. “I thought Dinara brought a presence to the pageant that no other girl had,” Sowell said. “And that smile… THAT SMILE! Simply sensational.” Local pageant officials are looking forward to Dinara’s appearance in the Greater Peach County’s Beauty Bonanza in August.

 

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set two: wimbledon on the d list

Yesterday my alarm clock rang at an ugly hour: 4:30 A.M.! I was off to day three of The Championships after failing to get tickets on Tuesday. This time I was determined to get my show-court on. I caught the 5:11 bus and made it to the ground by 5:35, only to be the 1,490th queuer of the day. WTF?! These people are hardcore.

Know who else is hardcore? Wimbledon D-Listers. So hardcore in fact that I’m back with set two. Enjoy!

Maria Sharapova warmed up on Court No. 6 before her disastrous 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 loss to Gisela Dulko on Centre Court. I caught most of the warm-up, wondering why she was hitting so poorly, but definitely digging her new, abbreviated service motion. And no, Hashers, Maria doesn’t make the D-List, but her two hitting partners certainly do. They provided the most action of the session when one (we’ll call him Tweedle D) was returning Maria’s serve and smacked the other (Tweedle C) right in the groinage. There was a loud gasp from the crowd (Maria put her hand over her mouth), and then laughing at the two hitting partners giggled about it. Who knew Maria supplied them with cups and jock-straps?! I bet Yuri put that rule into action.

At the newly-christened Court No. 2 (my show court for the day) I took in Robin Soderling (of Rafa-beating fame). But my eyes were mostly on Soderling’s box, not the match, where my (and Martina Hingis’) former boyfriend sat- Magnus Norman. You remember Maggie, right? He was that cute, world no. 2 that made us all wonder: ‘how does such petite, regular-built guy compete at the top of tennis?’ He answered that question a couple years ago by completely falling off the map. But he’s re-emerged as a coach as Soderling has surged. Oh Maggie, how I’ve missed you and your Ross-inspired hair!

Picture 1

Later on Court 12, I took in a fierce battle between Michelle Larcher de Brito and Francesca Schiavone. While there was plenty to see (and hear) during this match, I couldn’t help but wandering my eyes back to the seats. There sat the Queen of Bad Calls, Mariana Alves. Mariana must’ve wanted to take in some of her compatriot’s match, and is obviously pissed that Michelle is stealing her spotlight. I mean, Mariana totally worked really, really hard for that spotlight, over-ruling balls that were three inches in and somehow still keeping her job. Look at her, you know she’s piiiiiiiiissed.

(image via atp web site)

Kohlschreiber takes out Federer in staggering 3rd round upset…

After showing Novak Djokovic an early exit at Roland Garros, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber has…

Ok: let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As deep as the men’s game is these days, Rafa Nadal’s exceedingly unfortunate withdrawal from Wimbledon ’09 has shined a blindingly bright light on the fact that, after a series of sea changes this year, there appear to be no realistic challengers to Mr. Federer’s quest for Wimby #6 and major #15.

But I’m not here to make predictions (whether the latest betting odds, or just general predications); I’m here to mourn. First and most notably, I mourn Nadal’s absence. Now I’m the first guy to espouse the need for sharing the wealth, and that watching Roger and Rafa trade off winning Slams can get repetitive. On the other hand, last year’s Wimbledon and this year’s Aussie final offered nothing to complain about. As much as I would love to see a new champion emerge at this Slam and any of the next, one must feel that he’s earned it by going through the best. And with Rafa — the Rafa at the top of his game (his knees the exception) not around to be surmounted, this men’s draw has a bit of a consolation feel to it, even with Andy Murray around (though it doesn’t feel he’s quite ready to pose Fed a serious threat).

Here’s what else I’m mourning: a complete absence of anything resembling a serve-and-volley presence: gone are Jonas Bjorkman, Max Mirnyi, Tim Henman. There is good ol’ Taylor Dent, but he’s still making his way back from a long injury sabbatical, so we can’t expect much, though it will be interesting to see how he fares: how frequently he gets passed could be a bellweather of just how dominant backcourt tennis is this year.

On the women’s side, looking forward to seeing how Michelle Larcher De Brito plays out with her opponents and the fans. It’s safe to say no one will be mourning her seismic grunts after she gets bumped from the draw.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

wimbledon, on the d list

TSF note: Tennis Chatter’s Nick McCarvel is in London this week, doing his time as a Wimbledon fan by queueing up for tickets. He’s graciously offered report back through TSF even though he’s also writing for the New York Times’ Straight Sets blog (Mazel tov!). Read on…

The tennis was in full force yesterday at the All England Club for day one of the 2009 Championships. As play was called to start over the loud speakers just before noon, there were bright blue skies above head – an unusual sight. Maybe that roof wasn’t necessary, after all?

If you’ve never been to a professional tennis event, one of the funnest things about them is how close you can get to the players. “Oh! There’s James Blake practicing on Court 5″ and “Whoops! Sorry Maria, didn’t mean to bump into you on the way to the bathroom.” It’s like a little town and you’re all just chum-chum with each other.

But, my favorite part of being at big tourneys like this is the D-List sightings. You know what I mean. Not the Andy, Roger, Rafa and Serena sightings… more like the “Isn’t that Sesil’s mom?!” and “OMG I think that’s Jill Craybas’ hitting partner!” Here’s a few of my Monday bump-ins:

Tracy Austin in a hideous, leprechaun green get-up courtside during Michelle Larcher de Brito’s first round encounter on Court 17. Austin appeared to be doing some sideline commentating off-and-on during the match (fact check, anyone?!). But Austin was most definitely not happy when Ms. Grunty herself walked past her after the match without so much as a head nod. Inter-generational bitch fight? I sure hope so. Divas got ‘tude!

Paradorn Schrichapan and Miss Universe wife (Natalie Glebova) hanging out outside of Centre Court while wifey tried to argue her way in without a pass. Paradorn looked sexy in street clothes (a black tee and jeans), while Natalie must’ve been saying: “Look, my name totally sounds like one of these tennis phenom names. I’m an OVA! Just let me in and I’ll let you see my Miss Universe crown.”

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loving lavender: zheng jie in ANTA

Zheng Jie became the highest-ranked female Chinese player recently by reaching the No. 15 spot (beating Li Na‘s No. 16 back in 2007). Zheng’s had a so-so year so far, making it to the fourth round of the Australian (ret. Kuznetsova) and Miami (l. S. Williams), the semis at Monterrey (l. Bartoli), and the third round in Roma (a third-set tiebreak loss against Safina).

But she’s still in this year’s French, brushing aside Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-1, 6-3 in the first round. As the 15th seed, she’ll next face Michelle Larcher De Brito and will likely end up falling to Safina in the round of 16.

<3: We’re continually impressed with the different designs that Chinese companies Li Ning and ANTA — the latter now Zheng’s sponsor — are bringing to the table. Zheng is currently in a lavender/purple blouse trimmed with pleats and a cloud-like print on the mandarin collar.

What do you think of it? Tell us!

More: A few more shots of Zheng’s outfit after the cut…

short balls: a prodigy, a renaissance, and tennis on film

The guys in charge of the scoreboard LOVE her: ESPN’s Bonnie DeSimone profiles one of the players who made noise at this year’s Sony Ericsson Open. The 14-yr-old (and Portuguese) Michelle Larcher de Brito won a third set tiebreak against journeywoman Meghan Shaughnessy in the first round and lost to Daniela Hantuchova in the second.

He has Federer’s number: In case you’re new to the scene and/or know little about giant slayer Guillermo Canas — he’s beaten Federer twice in two weeks — you should read this short column by Justin Gimelstob.

Tennis in Tribeca: American filmmaker Rob Klug premieres his documentary Unstrung at next month’s Tribeca Film Festival. From the TFF website: “Much as Spellbound did for spelling bees, Unstrung exposes the surprising dramas of the amateur tennis world, hitting the road with a handful of high school competitors as they head for the national championship.” (via All These Wonderful Things)

What happens in Vegas…: From Robin Leach’s guest blog post on Luxe Life: Murphy Jensen‘s Tennis Channel show Open Access did a segment out of Las Vegas, coinciding with last month’s Tennis Channel Open. Jensen, along with player Jaroslav Levinsky, visited magician Lance Burton backstage “for an impromptu interview and some more magic tricks. Lance Burton made Murphy disappear upon a request from Levinsky.”

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