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...]

spotted in the city: monica's bag and djoko on the wall

Summer in the city: Walking down 9th Avenue one day in Hell’s Kitchen, I noticed this construction site plastered in newspaper articles. Two of them caught my eye: pieces on Novak Djokovic. A hearty fan (construction worker??) had taken the time and energy to post them in their entirety among the other random clippings smacked on the wall. He wasn’t so lucky at the French, but redeemed himself at Wimbledon. Below: Brand bunnies, can anyone spot the maker of this bag? How about you, TSF West? This hexagon-inspired ditty belongs to Monica Seles — the white Yonex zip-up and barely-visible BlackBerry, too. We snapped this shot the day that TSF chatted with Monica at the HSBC Wimbledon event in Rockefeller Plaza. | TSF Vault: Monica Seles

(Images by TSF)

tsf interview: jim courier on davis cup, escaping nyc and his first year of marriage


That’s no sound stage. Behind that HSBC classic? A grass tennis court — in Manhattan. (TSF photos)

HSBC‘s “Wimbledon 2011 at Rockefeller Plaza” bestowed Manhattan with its only grass tennis court — even if it was just for one week. The yearly event has run this entire week while Wimbledon itself rocks out across the pond, the real-grass playing court sitting nicely between 50th and 51st making the city that hosts the down-and-dirty U.S. Open feel a little dignified for a few days.

On Monday, TSF took the trip down to Rock to check out the set-up, which only begins at the grass court. The Wimbledon experience is in full-force, with a big screen set up to watch the week one action, Prince stringers available to re-tune your racquets, Wii tennis to play and strawberries and cream (but no Pimm’s!) served up by period-dressed Wimbledon fashion folks (see pictures below) to round out the SW19 feel.

While the court will disembark as of Friday, Monday saw Monica Seles and Jim Courier kick off the event with a little hit and giggle together and with ogling fans. Before the two hit the court, TSF (full disclosure: I was there covering the event for TSF and TennisWire.org) caught up with Courier and Seles both.

More: Our off-the-cuff interview with Monica

TSF: The Davis Cup tie against Spain on July 8-10 in Austin is huge for you guys. Tell us what about that.
Jim Courier: 
I’m not going to Wimbledon but I went to the Queen’s Club tournament for three days and I got to see the guys play on the grass there. I’m disappointed that Sam Querrey has an elbow injury that he had to have surgically repaired and he won’t be an option for us. We have five good options, though. We have Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan. We’ll have four of those five players on the court ready to do battle with the Spaniards.

TSF: Do you guys hope to have a big, raucous crowd there?
JC: 
Tickets sold out in about two and a half hours … 15,000 seats for three nights. 45,000 tickets! We’ll play on a fast indoor court that will meets ITF specifications and it’s going to be high energy and high passion.

TSF: How big is this tie for hometown boy, Andy Roddick.
JC: 
This is probably the only time that Roddick is going to get to play a real Davis Cup match at home.

TSF: You’re a New York City resident. How do you enjoy the summer here?
JC:
I love Central Park. I love getting there when I can. It’s sort of a magical place among the concrete jungle that we live in. I have a car in the city so I’m able to get out into the suburbs and see some different things, play some golf and go to the beach.

TSF: What about tennis? Where do you play?

JC: I play my tennis at Randall’s Island or Long Island City.

TSF: What big plans have you made for your one-year wedding anniversary? [Courier married former tennis player Susanna Lingman in August, 2010.]

JC: Yeah, I don’t [have anything planned]. I haven’t thought too much about it. Hopefully I’ll get a little surprise. [Laughing.]

TSF: You’ll leave the plans to her then?

JC: Yeah, that’s her responsibility. [Smiling.]

TSF: OK, I have to ask: who are your picks for Wimbledon?

JC: I like Rafa assuming that he’s not playing Djokovic in the final. If Djokovic is in the final against Rafa, I like Djokovic.

TSF: And for the ladies? That’s a little more difficult to pick.

JC: The women is a much harder pick. If Serena makes it through to the second week she’s the favorite. Otherwise, I think I like Sharapova this year. The younger, talented players have not proven to us that they can hold their nerve in the moment. They have the talent, but they haven’t proved that they can hold their nerve. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Check out more shots of “Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza” after the jump.

tsf interview: monica seles talks twitter, figure skating and her love of fashion

I cannot tell you how many thousands of hours I have spent hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Recently, I moved to Harlem in Manhattan and have discovered that there are hand ball walls just two blocks away from my new place. My afternoons? Now often spent hitting the ball against the wall, with curious walkers by baffled that I’m not playing hand or racquet ball.

Much of this fascination is due to the fact that when I was just 12 I read Monica SelesFrom Fear to Victory, the book that chronicled her life into tennis — including her love of hitting the tennis ball against a wall in a parking lot below her family’s apartment.

This last Monday I got the chance to talk to Monday for the third time in my short, young career as a journalist. I was visiting HSBC‘s “Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza,” a week-long event that the Wimbledon-partnered bank has put on for several year that allows Manhattan to boast a grass court in the city — even just for one week.

It was here that I (full disclosure: I was on a media pass both for TennisWire.org and TSF) got to talk to both Monica Seles and Jim Courier. For more on the HSBC event and it’s details, see the Courier post here (or scroll up).

TSF: Monica, what about social media? Why aren’t you tweeting up a storm?
Monica Seles: 
I don’t think anybody would care what Monica Seles is eating or what she’s doing.

TSF: [Laughing.] Monica, are you kidding?! I think you’d be surprised.
MS:
I’m an old dinosaur. [Twitter] is more all of these reality show stars that everyone watches. This is how this generation that has shifted. We didn’t have reality TV when I was growing up and now they’re the biggest stars. I really enjoy [my time away from the computer] because I’m on it a lot for work, but you kind of have to. My 10-year-old godson is tutoring me on the computer of how to navigate everything.

TSF: But you did Dancing With the Stars, so you’re sort of a reality star. What about trying Skating With the Stars?
MS:
 I couldn’t even [dance on] dry land! [Laughing.]

TSF: But you skated as a kid, right?
MS:
Yeah, I skated for about a year and a half. That’s what I wanted to be. I loved it. I loved the costumes and all the glamor stuff. But I haven’t been on ice skates since I was 8 years old. I think being on Dancing With the Stars was enough. [The show] was more about art and how you look and how you present yourself. In tennis I didn’t have to worry about where the camera was or what angle to smile at. I loved [Dancing] because it was so out of my comfort zone.

TSF: What about favorite figure skaters. Do you have any?
MS:
I always liked Kristi Yamaguchi in skating and she was on Dancing with me. And I always liked Nancy Kerrigan, too.

TSF: So you didn’t get to design figure skating costumes, but you still love fashion. Do you ever see yourself diving into it like Venus Williams or Maria Sharapova have?
MS:
[Fashion] is something I enjoy looking at, but I don’t know. Tennis is really hard because all of the big companies have kind of taken over. I love it when you see the girls come out [for the players' parties] and you want to see what everyone is wearing. Now, it’s going to be more and more daring. At Wimbledon all the girls got all dressed up and it allows the fans to see the girls in a different light — I like that.

TSF: Did you see Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ dress?
MS:
[Laughing.] No… but I heard about it. I saw Maria’s and Ana Ivanovic‘s. Ana was very classy.

TSF: What is one thing that you must do when you’re in New York in the summer?
MS:
I love Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. It’s really nice to just sit and be outside — I love being outside. You can sit there on a nice day and just have your friends eat with you — that’s my favorite.

TSF: Do you ever think there’s going to be a young star again? WTA success seems to be coming at an older age these days.
MS:
Oh yeah. The tour has their age regulations, but there are always going to be young girls coming up who are powerful. Martina was powerful. And then Stefani. And then me. Then the Williams sisters came along. I think the sport always evolves. Maybe age mentally — how you manage success and fame and money — but otherwise, I think we’ll always have young players coming up.

(tsf photo)

summer monday? spend it with monica and jimbo

Courier serving things up at the Rock in 2009. (Getty photo)

NYC greenery: Plenty of New Yorkers (and Americans, we presume) have “summer Fridays.” You know the idea: it’s freakin’ nice outside so employees get to peace out for all or part of Friday to frolic in the sun. While we appreciate such a gesture from the higher ups, before you go off sunbathing and boozing before 5 pm today, you might want to re-consider utilizing those free hours this coming Monday.

It is, after all, day one of Wimbledon, which means you could wake up at your usual ungodly time and take in some of ESPN 2′s coverage of day one at The Championships. After a few hours of tubing, you’ll be itching to get outside (it is summer, after all!) and we’ve got just the solution for you: Monica Seles and Jim Courier, playing some grass-court tennis at Rockefeller Plaza. Seles and Courier hit the court at noon on Monday for what should be an entertaining hit and giggle, former ESPN commentator and Tennis Channel buff Brett Haber will emcee.

Can’t make it Monday? There’s more: Play (yes, you! Play!) on Manhattan’s only grass court Monday through Friday. To reserve a court call (855) 688-7715. Can’t find the right bounce on the grass? Prince has pros who will be there to touch up your game. The sched? Monday 4 to 5 and Tuesday through Friday noon to 1 and 5 to 6. Plus: Get your racquet re-strung Monday through Friday between 11 and 1; eat some special strawberries and cream all week long; and play some Wii “Grand Slam” tennis. Find out all the info of HSBC’s Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza here.

strokin’: when tennis met music

By Jonathan Scott

It may not be tabloid fodder like every Taylor Swift dalliance, and it’s not nearly as insufferable as Brangelina, but the marriage between music and tennis is itself a storied love affair. It stretches across decades and genres, and it knows no bounds – well, none other than those pesky white lines.

Try to set aside the disappointment that the artist Sergey with the song “Tennis” on iTunes is actually not Vera Zvonareva‘s ridiculously good-looking model/coach. And, however possible, repress the memory of Justine Henin‘s song-and-dance scareoke on TV. Yes, Novak Djokovic and Ivo Karlovic have tried their tongues at rapping, as has Vince Spadea with amusingly deplorable results, but that doesn’t mean you should try it at home after perfecting your Djokovic-ian down-the-line backhand, does it?

As the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival just wrapped its annual song-a-thon in Austin, Texas – soon to be the site for a volatile USA vs. Spain Davis Cup tie in July – here’s the skinny on the latest hot shots in tennis-tinged music and an homage to some of the greats.

Best Newcomer: James Blake is a dub-step soulman and a veritable crooner. The British JB, that is. His American counterpart is a best-selling author and owner of a laser forehand whose best days are past, but Blake the Brit is taking the music world by slow-burning storm, releasing his rave-reviewed eponymous debut in February and – well before that – igniting the blogosphere with his faithful but quirky cover of Feist‘s “Limit to Your Love.” Let’s just pray that, when we hit up a James Blake concert sometime, his fans aren’t half as annoying (adorable?) as the American Blake’s J-Block can be in the tennis stands.

Dainty she is not. Our fave album cover from Blonde Readhead’s 23. (Image via band website)

Best Dressed: Sometimes it’s okay to judge a band by its cover. Oxymoronic indie rockers Blonde Redhead out of New York City put out the best, most elegant tennis-themed album art when they dropped 23 in 2007. But, no, the song “Top Ranking” has nothing to do with disputed no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Worst Dressed, but Best Sound: Yea, there is a band simply called Tennis, a married duo specializing in ’60s surf-pop for 2011. This act released its debut Cape Dory in January, and though the song “Marathon” doesn’t harbor the words “Isner,” “Mahut” or “Wimbledon” anywhere in the lyrics, it’s solid stuff. Consider it your soulful throwback soundtrack for this summer – but steer clear of wearing skintight aqua as with the album cover. It looks like leftover fabric from a hideous Nadia Petrova creation.

Best Tournament Run: This has to go to the ginger-haired heroine in the video for Vampire Weekend‘s “Giving Up the Gun.” She rips through a draw that includes Joe Jonas, a Daft Punk-helmeted doubles team, and even a flask-swilling Jake Gyllenhaal in tear-away pants. It’s a great song, and the immaculately-white indoor court is sharp – even if the choked-up strokes from the damsel look laughably bad in reality. Girl, who taught you to grip a racquet like that? Topping it off: RZA from Wu-Tang Clan serves as the chair umpire, and Lil Jon offers astute on-court coaching. Brill.

TSF Vault | The many lives of tennis-themed music vids

Best Clay-Court Match: French DJs Martin Solveig — oddly in tasteful Wimbledon whites — and Bob Sinclar, sporting some hot-magenta vintage-Agassi styles, squared off on Roland Garros‘ red dirt for the video for Solveig’s dance track “Hello” sung by Dragonette. The match and music video are both visceral, a veritable heartbreaker. Check out the cameo by that flashiest of the current French tennis stars as he comes on the scene and devastates the darling DJ.

Hello? Could Martin Solveig look any cooler? We think not. (YouTube screengrab)

Best Charity Hit: Andy Murray and Thom Yorke of Radiohead teamed up for charity single “Two Minute Silence” to benefit serving and former British troops and their families. Strangely enough, its title is no lie. “Hear” — but really just see — it here. British Prime Minister David Cameron and more also got in on this quiet riot. Truly the oddest not-quite-a-band lineup ever, but hey, can’t wait for their episode of “Behind the Music.” Finalist: Wozniacki put out a charity single called “Oxigent” (or “Oxygen”) to benefit Danish and Polish Paralympic athletes. Because, you know, she has oodles of free time.

Top Passing Shot: Meg Baird‘s lovely, lilting “Waltze of the Tennis Players.” It’s just pretty, and we do pretty.

More of Jonathan’s music musings (including “Best Grunt” and “Best Musical Ode to a Tennis Player”) after the cut. [Read more...]

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...]

legends go ballin’

Legends-Ball-Legends
(Legends Dick Savitt, Stan Smith, Monica Seles, Martina Navratilova, Buch Buchholz, Pam Shriver and Tony Trabert)

Last Friday night, while rain was wreaking havoc on the U.S. Open‘s schedule and a dramatic weekend of tennis had yet to be played out, the legends of the sport descended on the International Tennis Hall of Fame‘s Legends Ball in Midtown Manhattan for a night of celebration.

The event was held at Cipriani, across the street from Grand Central Station, a beautiful space with “towering marble columns and soaring ceilings” as its web site says. 

While there were plenty of celebs at such an event, the tennis legends themselves were really the ones who guests had their eyes on. TSF stole the ear of a few of the former tennis greats to ask a few questions and find out just what they were thinking about the current state of the sport of tennis.

Tracy Austin
TSF: What do you think of Melanie Oudin’s run to the quarterfinals?
TA:
What a fairy tale run for Melanie, a sweet girl that’s so spunky. She’s got a lot of speed and heart. If she continues to play like this for the rest of the year she can establish herself. It’s refreshing to see someone like her make such a run.

Martina Navratilova
TSF: Will a player as young as 14 or 15 ever make a big splash in tennis again? We saw it up through the beginning of this decade, but are those days over?
MN:
I don’t think it’ll ever happen again. There is too much power in the game right now for someone that young to come up and play with these women. I hope a girl like Hingis will come along again who has creativity variety in her game. 

Monica Seles
TSF: What is one thing you can NEVER leave home without while traveling?
MS:
My dog. Definitely my dog. It was the same when I was playing, I can never the poor thing at home. 

We weren’t too surprised Monica answered like that, and the recent Hall of Fame inductee was by far the most popular gal of the evening, having her shoulder tapped at every turn. She palled around with good friend Mary Joe Fernandez, sipped on Diet Coke and greeted everyone with a sincere “It’s so good to see you!”

Check out more of the legends’ attire after the cut. [Read more...]

serena: queen of the garden?

Chasing greatness: Seles was the last to play at the Garden.

Winter gardening: Believe it or not, Serena Williams has never played at Madison Square Garden. In fact, of the four players competing in this Monday’s Billie Jean King Cup in New York, only Venus has played at the mecca of all sports – and just once, in 1999.

The last time pro women swung tennis racquets at the Garden was in 2000, at the WTA’s Season Ending Championships. In that tournament, then-20-year-old Martina Hingis outgunned fan fave and Garden gal Monica Seles in three tight sets, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4. 

If Monica owned the Garden in the early 90s, Serena hopes to own it in 2009. Friday, during a conference call, the Australian Open champ was asked by NYT‘s George Vecsey what she felt about the MSG, and had this to say: 

“Growing up I’ve always watched tennis [being played at] Madison Square Garden. There was the WTA there [and] for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to play there. It’s for a great event. I think women’s tennis right now is the mecca of female sports and to have an event like this put on … just shows how amazing women’s tennis is. These New Yorkers can get to see such high quality tennis for one night.”

The queen of the Garden will be crowned Monday on HBO, which is broadcasting the event live beginning at 730 EST. We’ll be there to cover it live.

(image via ALLSPORT)