tsf interview: melanie oudin on peaches, school and her fave tunes


Fresh peach: Melanie Oudin. (Images courtesy of Wilson)

Though 2011 has been a rough go for 2009 US Open quarterfinalist Oudin, the Georgia peach remains a sparkly and upbeat personality on the WTA. The former adidas-clad (remember those shoes?) is now sporting Wilson, and she makes her way toward the Open with a larger question mark looming over her head: Will she have personalized shoes again?! TSF got the chance to shoot over Mel a few Qs. Here’s what she had to say:

TSF: OK Georgia girl: Fresh peaches, dried peaches or Peach Ring candies?
Melanie Oudin: Fresh peaches.

TSF: Would you rather: spend a summer at the Wilson HQs in Chicago with no AC? Or spend a winter at the Wilson HQs in Chicago with no heat?
MO: Spend a summer in the Wilson HQ’s with no AC.

TSF: What are you doing for school these days? Online classes?
MO: Right now nothing cause I’m finished with high school, but will prob sign up for some online classes next year.

TSF: The first thing you do in the morning is?
MO: Brush my teeth.

TSF Vault: Melanie Oudin | Wilson

TSF: What’s your favorite thing to wear from the Wilson clothing line collection?
MO: The capri tight pants and the Wilson dresses for matches.

TSF: You’re currently rocking out to _________ on your iPod.

MO: I’m currently rocking out to “Lose Control” by Keri Hilson on my iPod and other pop songs.

TSF: What’s one random/weird/strange/you-tell-your-friends-back-home thing that has happened to you while traveling abroad?
MO: There are a ton of weird/random things that have happened to me while traveling around the world that there’s too many to choose one.

TSF: You couldn’t vote in 2008. Who gets your ballot check in 2012? Obama? Palin? Trump?!
MO: Palin.

TSF: Say you could ask Monica Seles one thing. What would it be?
MO: Was it just a complete life-changing experience after you got stabbed? How did you recover from that? Also, how was it for you to deal with lots of pressure on the tour and ups and down?

What’s she wearing? Top:
La Divine tank with built-in sports bra. Buy: On Tennis Warehouse for $34Bottom: Garden LS pull-over zip. Buy: On TW for $25.

more martina: on tonic, social networking and her fave to-dos in nyc

Martina, unplugged: TSF was able to nab an elated (and somewhat breathless) Martina Hingis last night following her World Team Tennis triumph in NYC. We got a few Qs in before the five-time Slam winner was whisked away to sign autographs for kids. They’re below.

TSF: Tell us more about your line with Tonic. What has been your favorite part?
Martina Hingis: We signed at Wimbledon and I’m really excited about working with them. I already wore a collection at Wimbledon (see above) and am wearing them every night [during WTT]. The line will come out in March [2012] in stores.

TSF: How involved have you been in the process?
MH: I have help from the designer, who I’m excited to meet after WTT, when I head to Vancouver [BC] to work on the next line. We have added the finishing touches for this line as I’ve practiced in the clothes. It fits really well for tennis and for yoga or other sports, everything is really comfortable.

TSF: So you’ve been doing yoga all over NYC in Tonic?
MH: (Laughs) I’ll do [yoga] when I go to Vancouver. I did a lot of yoga when I was young, but lately I have been playing tennis more and investing my time differently.

TSF: What about social media: Facebook, Twitter. Do you have interest in joining?
MH: With Tonic, I will be partially involved [on social media]. I hope to help in getting the brand going to be strong and independent [from the rest of Tonic's lines].

TSF: Separate from Flushing Meadows or playing here at WTT, what do you love to do in NYC?
MH: (Eyes lighting up.) I love musicals. I’ve seen so many of them — maybe 20 already? I love Lion King and Mamma Mia. I want to see Sister Act so badly. I hope I have some time to get to Times Square.”Two more shots of Martina in Tonic after the cut. [Read more...]

tsf interview with ‘renee’ director eric drath

With the Tribeca Film Festival kicking off this week, TSF is looking forward to no film more than Renee, a documentary about famed tennis player Renee Richards and her controversial decision to play on the women’s tennis tour after going through sexual reassignment surgery in the 1970s. We got the chance to chat with Eric Drath, the director of the film, to talk about Renee, the project and his thoughts about transexuals in sports. -NM

TSF: Your documentary “Life Caught in the Ring” was set in the boxing world. Do you see similarities in the boxing and tennis worlds?
Eric Drath: Although it was a boxing movie, it really was a story of redemption and coming to terms with the decision that somebody made so long ago … a relatively bad decision. This movie is not really a tennis movie, it’s a story about a person. It’s a story about a life, about someone who complete courage to be the person that they feel that they are. Even though it’s set in the environment of tennis it transcends the sport and reaches a bunch of bigger topics and universal themes.

TSF: For this film, dealing with something so controversial – especially for its time frame – how hard was it to find distribution? Were you nervous that it might not have an appeal? That it might be considered a big risk?
ED: Yeah. You really never know what you’re getting into when you start a project like this. I started the project knowing that it was a great story that a new generation should be told. I didn’t know where it was going to wind up or if it was going to be too controversial, but I knew I had an important story and a story that transcends the sport of tennis. This is a story of perseverance, courage and the ability to be true to yourself.

TSF: You’re talking about a new generation. Have you been surprised by the reaction from people in your personal life that you’ve talked to about this of people not knowing this story?
ED: That’s what’s incredible: I think that most people don’t know this story. Most people my age – I’m 40 – have probably heard of it. But there’s a whole generation that doesn’t know and it’s more timely than ever with what’s going on with Kyle Allums and what’s going on in other sports. This is a question that is not going to go away. Where do people who are transsexual should be allowed to play? In what age groups and divisions? These are important subjects and they haven’t gone away. There hasn’t been a final determination on it. It’s very timely now, just as it was front page news back when it was happening.

TSF: Have you got a common response from people who hadn’t heard of the controversy and/or Renee? Are they surprised by what she did?
ED: People can’t believe that this really happened. This wasn’t in the day of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. But this still became worldwide news. How many people live a life the way Renee has? She’s had so many lives. When I tell people this story, they’re floored that this could actually happen. People are like, ‘what? That really happened?!’ They’re very surprised.

TSF:What about getting pro players to talk on camera about their experience/opinion regarding Renee?
ED: Well it was interesting because we reached out to a lot of players who were overwhelming supportive back then and we also reached out to players who had walked off the court and were not [supportive]. The common demonator was that all of them had ultimate respect for Renee as a person. The question of whether it was fair or not, I thought [the response] was divided. But the question about Renee was overwhelmingly that she is an incredible person and commands incredible respect.

I talked to what seems like the “old guard,” the royalty of tennis: Martina, Billie Jean, Mary Carillo, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase.

TSF: Does Renee keep close, personal relationships within the tennis world? Or has she sort of removed herself from it?
ED: She’s very welcomed in the tennis community. There was an outpouring of help from the tennis community and she’s still connected to [it]. She still teaches some youths, she still visits the US Open. She’s not a pariah in any sense. Although, she’s definitely still the most controversial female player to ever play the sport.

TSF: How long did this process take from idea to final product?
ED: Two years, almost to the day from when I picked up the phone and called her.

Click here for the rest of our interview with Drath. [Read more...]

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...]

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)

[tsf interview] how i spent my christmas vacay, by benni becker

German player Benjamin Becker starts his 2008 campaign Down Under with a loss to eventual champion Michael Llodra in the quarters of last week’s Next Generation Adelaide International.

Becker also starts off the year wearing a new line of clothes from sponsor Boris Becker — the company, not the legend. (Btw, he and Boris are not related.) For 2008, gone are the argyle patterns, but the orange and white colorway stays the same. Later today I’ll post photos of the the clothes, along with what “Benni” thinks about them and fashion in general.

We spoke to Benni via e-mail about the offseason, his goals for the coming year, and about his tennis shop in Merzig, Germany (it opened in the Spring of 2007).

How did you spend your off-season? I spent my off season mostly in Florida and was in Dallas over Christmas with my girlfriend. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend Christmas at home in Germany but it was easier [for] my preseason schedule and my flight to Australia. But I stilled enjoyed the holidays in Dallas.

What are your goals for 2008? One of the goals are certainly to participate in the Olympics. Other than that i will try to get back to the Top 50 again and maybe even higher.

How is your relationship with Boris Becker? Does he give you advice? [Boris and I] haven’t really talked much about my game, but we’ll do that more in the fututre when we have some time. Usually we [have met] at places where it was tough to get a good conversation in because we were at a press conference or at an exibition.

becker-store-merzig.jpg

You have a store in your hometown of Merzig. How involved are you with its operation? I’m involved but not as much that it would distract me from focusing on tennis. Whenever i have a chance I go visit and try to help a smuch as I can during that time. [They have one store and don't plan to open any more.]

Doping is all over the news these days. Has this changed the climate in the locker rooms? I don’t think that the climate has changed but obviously we are all trying to be careful what supplements we take and what medicine if we are sick. That was part of it before and hasn’t changed.

brand focus: stick it wear?!

One of the cool things about writing this blog is stumbling across great new finds on the internet. The latest is O.C.-based clothing line Stick It Wear?! (TSF normally eschews punctuation-as-branding — think macy*s and Guess? — but in this case it works).

SIW’s bread and butter are stick figures inspired by Olympics pictograms from the 60s and 70s. Creator and owner Joe Durica designed these logos based on tennis pros with trademark looks. We’re talking Sharapova‘s fist pump, Henin‘s backhand, Clijsterssplits, Rafa‘s “Vamos!” pose, and — one of my personal faves — Lleyton‘s cobra). I guess you could call Joe the Nole of tennis fashion.

We recently talked to him over e-mail about tennis, entrepreneurship, and the highs and lows of designing clothing for the sport. Click here to read the interview.

Q&A with pacific life open's tournament director

I always like skimming the local news when a tournament stops in a town. You never know how a journalist will cover a sport that probably doesn’t get much general interest outside of the Grand Slams. It usually ends up as a mix of human interest stories, celebrity profiles, and the wire feeds.

In Pam Springs it’s a little different, since the Pacific Life Open is pretty much considered a fifth slam (they expect 300,000 people to cross through the gates this year) and tennis is an integral part of the desert lifestyle.

So I’m a little disappointed that this Q&A with tournament director Steve Simon in The Desert Sun wasn’t more insightful or engaging. Perhaps he didn’t want to rock the boat; it wasn’t that long ago that the tournament was in danger of closing up shop in Indian Wells.

At the very least, this article reminds the readers about the changes the Sony Ericsson WTA tour plan to make under their “Roadmap to 2009.”