serena's all cut up in nike tees

Pass the scissors, please. One thing we loved about Serena Williams at the US Open this year was watching her walk into Interview Room 1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Not because we couldn’t wait to hear what Serena had to say — she’s actually notoriously bland in such situations — but for her hilariously amazing Nike tees turned home craft projects. Serena must have had plenty of late nights staying up with her assistant watching re-runs of her HSN appearances and Keeping up with the Kardashians while slicing through a collection of graphic tees. And by that we mean her assistant did all the cutting. Serena was probably painting her toes, right? Or Oprah’s.

Serena is getting some flak for her on-court apparel these days. But we say hey! What about what the girl is rocking off the court?

While the tees are all around a questionable move, we. Love. That. Hair. On the court, too? Do it, lady.

TSF Vault: Seren’a USO kit | Full USO coverage

More: Serena’s first UNICEF campaign

(screengrabs via USOpen.org)

trophy watch: american hardware

Slam season? It’s ova! I’m out of my let’s-research-this mindset from writing for USOpen.org after two glorious weeks with a great staff at the National Tennis Center, so I’ll give someone else a go at this stat: when was the last time a Slam included no “ova” winner? Barring one-half of the girls’ doubles winning team — that’d be Irina Khromacheva — and she’s an “eva,” so does she even count? For all I know it could have been the French this year, but it certainly seems like a shocker, no?!

The men’s tournament, in the end, wasn’t a shocker itself. Sure, it was shocking that Novak Djokovic for the second year in a row denied Roger Federer a shot at the title by saving match points (how ’bout that forehand?!), but in the end, it was a result that many in tennis expected: Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in the final. And what a final it was! Thanks for ending a semi-mediocre tournament with such a glorious match, fellas. ‘Til next time!

Sam-a-Slam: Let’s just talk about the tennis. Sam Stosur played lights-out ball for two sets against Serena Williams on Sunday night at the Open. For us it was reminiscent of the way Maria Sharapova pounded her way past Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Sure, Stosur’s style is completely different that Maria’s, but the result was the same: she lost just five games against her heavily-favored opponent to win her maiden major. One can only wish that the Aussie will show up with similar form at her home slam come January.

TSF Vault: Trophy Watch | 2011 US Open

Cindarella story.  This one really was written in the you-can’t-make-it-up category. Melanie Oudin, two years ago the Open’s golden girl, had paired up with this year’s golden boy in Jack Sock, and the two just stormed through the mixed doubles draw. No, they didn’t smooch! But we sure wish they would have. More? Doubles and juniors after the cut! [Read more...]

serena's u.s. open jewels

Graff, not Graf: Funny — a friend of ours mentioned today that the jewelry Serena‘s wearing at this year’s U.S. Open (to complement her Nike kit) came to her from Steffi Graf. It turns out that all the diamonds are from Graff, a London-based jewelry shop with a New York outpost. Ooopsies. (I could not even imagine how earrings like this would ever end up in the hands of Steffi!)

Into the quarters: This year’s title is still for Serena’s to take, and Ivanovic rolling over in their fourth round match fed into this prophecy. Although the Serb did some damage with her forehand (and got some help with the gusty winds), it still wasn’t enough to prevent Serena from notching the 6-3, 6-4 victory. Serena next plays Pavs. (Draw: Women’s Singles)

(image via Getty Images)

sunday survey: can anyone come close?

Crown her queen. For a set and a half yesterday, Serena Williams absolutely dominated Victoria Azarenka on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Serena had match points at both 6-1, 5-3 and 5-4, coming within a point of absolutely drubbing the world’s 4th-ranked player. But Vika saved four match points and drew the second set into a tiebreaker. And while the Belarussian couldn’t quite nab a set (or the match) from Serena, she made somewhat of a case for the rest of the remaining US Open field.

But who — really — can give Serena a true challenge in the final four rounds of the Open? Among Ana Ivanovic, Francesca Schiavone and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (her fourth round and potential quarterfinal match-ups, respectively), the three women hold a 2-7 (and 4-14 in sets) record against Serena in nine matches. So, who has the best shot? Tell us who you think below.

More: The women’s remaining 16

(Photo by Getty Images)

bracketology: it’s all about serena (plus more predictions)

By Christopher Phillips

Venus and Serena: potential final showdown? Or just posing for the red carpets? At the Hamptons magazine cover party last week. (Getty)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the men’s side of things here.

Caroline Wozniacki — Quarterfinals | Maybe the world’s no. 1 will play better now that her relationship with Rory McIlroy (someone who has actually won a US Open) is out and she’s back to her winning ways in New Haven. Her draws not the easiest of the top eight. She opens against no. 127 Nuria Llagostera Vives, then would likely play no. 43 Elena Vesnina in the 2nd round. 29th seed Jarmila Gajdosova could be trouble in the third round, but her summer’s been as underwhelming as the Dane’s. Wozniacki’s first challenge is in the 4th against Daniela Hantuchova, the 21st seed. Can the Slovak knock Wozniacki out of a slam for the second time this year?

Vera Zvonareva –- 4th round | The Russian opens against a qualifier and meets either hard-serving Lucie Hradecka or Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round. 30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues is the first seed Zvonareva will face and shouldn’t pose any difficulties. With all the attention on the slamless Wozniacki, the Williamses, and Maria Sharapova, maybe this is Vera’s year to sneak back into the finals. We can’t completely imagine it, though.

Sharapova –- Finals | The serve seems to be less of a question for Maria coming into this year’s US Open than it has been in recent memory. Maybe because her return game has improved? She beaten four of the top 15 players in the world to win her last tournament in Cincinnati and, given her draw, it’s difficult to see her meeting any real challenges until 5th seed Petra Kvitova or 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka –- 3rd round | Were it not for one woman –- 28th seed (?!???!?) Serena Williams –- Azarenka would be a bonafide lock to the semifinals. Unfortunately, Serena stands in her way. Don’t be surprised if some of Azarenka’s nerves about her upcoming match with Serena start showing during her second round battle against Rebecca Marino or Gisela Dulko.

Petra Kvitova –- Quarterfinals | If anyone can get in Sharapova’s way to the finals, it’ll be Wimbledon champ Kvitova. The Czech got the better of the Russian in England –- can she make it two for two this year? She could have a tricky first round against Alexandra Dulgheru and 27the seed Lucie Safarova could prove problems (if not an upset) in the third round.

Li Na –- 4th round | Li is capable of winning this thing or flaming out to Simona Halep in the first round. How about middle of the road? We see her losing to the ever-improving 10th seed, Andrea Petkovic, who has become the belle of the media’s ball this year and will do so even more with a run here.

Francesca Schiavone –- Quarterfinals | She’s got a relatively easy draw until a potential match-up with Cincinnati finalist Jelena Jankovic, the 11th seed, in the 4th round. Winner of that match loses to Serena in the quarters.

Marion Bartoli –- Quarterfinals | Bartoli’s strong statements in Toronto and Cincinnati? They didn’t happen. Marion made the semifinals in Brisbane and Doha earlier this year, finals at Indian Wells and Strasbourg, semis at the French, wins Eastbourne and takes out Serena at Wimbledon in route to the quarterfinals then follows it up with a trip to the Stanford finals. Hopefully early losses in Canada and Cincy — as well as a lackluster performance in New Haven — leaves Marion even more hungry for a run at Flushing.

Serena Williams –- Winner | Somehow she manages to look almost more relaxed and hungrier at the same time than ever before. Her play this summer only reinforces the fact that the rest of the field is just playing for second place. But can she stay injury-free?

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these gals could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

Petkovic | Sadly she’s made more news this summer for running off the court mid-match, but she’s got two wins over Kvitova since the Czech’s Wimbledon title, plus hard court wins over Wozniacki, Sharapova, Bartoli, Jankovic and Venus from earlier this season.

Can JJ find her 2008 form at Flushing this year? (Getty)

Jankovic | If anyone has enough gumption and attitude to upset Serena, it’s Jelena. A potential quarterfinal match-up between the two looms.

Hantuchova | With wins this year over Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Azarenka, Li, Bartoli and Venus, she’s capable of beating any given player on any day. Oh, Dani!

22nd seed Sabine Lisicki | The Dallas champ and Xperia Hot Shots winner is on her way back to the top after injury –- nowhere to go but up! But Venus looms in the second round…

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First Round Matches to Watch

13th seed Shuai Peng vs. Varvara Lepchenko | The Chinese no. 2 pulled out of this week’s tournament in Dallas and withdrew from Toronto and Cincinnati mid-tournament. If she’s not fully healthy, the American Lepchenko could end up with the biggest win of her career.

15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Sara Errani | The world no. 38 Italian narrowly missed out being seeded and lost a three setter to the 2004 Open champ earlier this season.

26th seed Flavia Pennetta vs. Aravane Rezai | The former top 10 Italian has been slumping the past couple years. Has Rezai shaken off her Aussie Open family drama?

Gajdosova vs. Iveta Benesova The big-serving Aussie has lost in the first round at six of her last seven tournaments.

Jill Craybas vs. Madison Keys | Battle of the Americans –- the old guard versus the new guard.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Polona Hercog | It’s the no. 2 American’s first match back since Wimbledon. If she looks good here, you’ve got to believe she can upset 24th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round and give 10th seed Samantha Stosur a run for her money in the 3rd round.

See the full women’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round
Wozniacki d Hantuchova
Petkovic d Li
Serena d Peer
Schiavone d Jankovic
Kvitova d A. Radwanska
Sharapova d Peng
Bartoli d Stosur
Lisicki d Zvonareva

QFs:
Petkovic d Wozniacki
Serena d Schiavone
Sharapova d Kvitova
Lisicki d Bartoli

SFs:
Serena d Petkovic
Sharapova d Lisicki

Finals:
Serena d Sharapova – 2 (relatively easy) sets

fashion focus: for nike, serena is the all-american gal

Nike‘s putting the “all-american” label on Serena Williams, giving her a red day dress, a blue evening dress, and white Mirabella 3 shoes. Note the sweetheart neckline and the halter-neck detail in the dresses.

Watch: Video from the Nike camp above (including a preview of the blue evening dress!).

(images and video courtesy of Nike)

short balls: tennis in cincy is a BFD, is the open draw fixed? and more

Cin-sational: If you didn’t think that the Western & Southern Open wasn’t a big deal, take a peek at Cincinnati.com. The online hub for everything Cincy can’t get enough of the ATP‘s Masters 1000 event that is now a double dip (and mini US Open) with the women joining the men for the first time this year. The .com team has littered (in a good way) their homepage with blown-out coverage for the entire week of the tourney, which goes through this weekend. Think the New York Times should take note? We’re not so sure that they can fit some 19 links on their top bar alone, as the Cincinnati site did on Thursday. #crowded

It doesn’t stop there: If a regular old news site isn’t enough for you, CincyTennis.com offers some of the best coverage of a tournament’s site outside of the four majors. We’ve been keeping an eye particularly on the writings of TSF contributor Benjamin Snyder, who is writing for CincyTennis. | Draws: Men | Women

Fixed? ESPN‘s Outside the Lines had quite the compelling report (with plenty of fancy numbers) saying that the top two players in the US Open get a fixed draw to deal with year in and year out. Watch the report for how they average out the players’ rankings that the no. 1 and no. 2 seeds must play against. You think it’s rigged too? We can’t quite buy it. | Reaction: Busted Racquet

What’s up with the Williamses? Both Venus and Serena are expected to be at America’s wedding of the year. That’s right, Kim Kardashian is finally tying the knot! Was Serena’s injury well timed? We all know Serena doesn’t like to miss a big party, and if she did well in Cincy that meant no E! red carpet for Kim’s nuptials. Just… thinking out loud. Meanwhile, Venus sat down with Tennis.com and revealed that she is, indeed, a grunter. And what else? She sees more of a future for herself in the design world than running the WTA from Stacey Allaster‘s spot. And while Venus said she wasn’t “a committer” in her interview, she and Serena committed to a December exhibition — in Italy. They will be joined by Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta.

Roddickulous: It was a manic Monday for Andy Roddick in Cincinnati, who was attempting a mini comeback of sorts prior to the US Open. A-Rod blew a set and a break lead, then was broken in the third set when a point was awarded to his opponent as Roddick was serving at break point down and smashed a ball into the crowd. Cue the arguing from Andy. | Change of plans: Roddick takes Winston-Salem wildcard

Love kills? Things didn’t go so well for love birds Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy this last week. Rory finished 64th at the PGA Championship while Wozy was stunned by American upstart Christina McHale in the second round in Cincinnati. At least they could cuddle, right? Rory visited Caroline in Cincy for the tourney. | Open Court blog: Caro’s dad/coach just dad now

short(er) balls: Commentators (and brothers) John and Pat McEnroe talk all about the US Open in ESPN call. | Trendy, chic fashion for black men? A new duo is emerging on the cutting edge. | Who is running things at J.Crew? That’d be Jenna Lyons. | Check out New York magazine’s fall fashion coverage. | A teaching professional has been arrested in the Boston area for video taping a male member in the locker room. | New York fashion makes its way to Cincinnati for runway show during W&S Open. | Are you a recreational player trying to look cool? That’s uncool, the Wall Street Journal says. | Johnny Mac knows that your body starts to break down as you get older. | US Open wildcard playoff (for a spot in the main draw) will go through Sunday. Among those playing: Beatrice Capra. | Blake Strode looks to win the National Playoffs once again, gaining entrance to the USO qualifying draw. | Headed to the Open but not sure where to eat in Queens? The NYT has got you covered. | Rafael Nadal will appear at Macy’s in New York on Thursday for an unveiling of Armani jeans.

(Caro and Rory photo by the AP)

trophy watch: serena's (and nole's) sizzling summer

Streak this: While Novak Djokovic may be 53-1 this year and 29-0 on hardcourts, he doesn’t have as many wins this summer as Serena Williams. Serena hasn’t lost since Wimbledon, winning her second straight US Open Series tournament in Toronto over the weekend, running through the field with a only hiccup here or there — much like she had in Standford at the Bank of the West Classic. Serena’s final triumph was over Sam Stosur, who beat Williams in the French Open quarterfinals last year in a tight affair. Not this time: Serena won the Rogers Cup for the second time, 6-4 6-2.

King Nole: While it is clear that Serena is having a banner summer, so, too, is Nole. You just can’t take it away from him — he’s having a banner year. Prior to his final yesterday against Mardy Fish, Djoko had dropped just 20 games in four straight-set matches. Remember: this dude hadn’t played since Wimbledon! Seriously: undisputed world no. 1 on l-o-c-k. The final was a good one, thanks to a gamely Fish, who we hope will show up in similar form in two week’s time at Flushing Meadows. Nole, as he has 52 other times this year, emerged the winner with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 effort.

Clear as day: As for the trophies, we can’t say we’re the biggest fan of the clear glass look, but if we had to choose, we’ll take Serena’s lighter, thinner option over Nole’s marginally phallic offering. But the real question? Who had the better celebration?!

TSF Vault: Serena Williams | Novak Djokovic | Trophy Watch

(Serena images by the AP; Djoko images by Getty)

venus and serena get the tia and tamara treatment

Let’s do some double-checking, shall we? The online photo hub Zimbio had quite the oops this week as it posted a series of seven pictures of Venus Williams and titled the post “Serena Williams Leaves a Rug Store.” We love that: A. The title of the gallery is what it is; B. It’s NOT Serena; and C. Venus is carrying a pooch — maybe they were rug shopping together?!

In any case,  it’s sort of difficult — at least from the TSF POV — to mix up V and S, isn’t it? One is a tall and lanky gal while the other is compact and built. But… we’re not in the business of pushing out thousands of photos everyday. So, no judgment.

Double take: Sort of a Tia and Tamara moment, isn’t it? BTW, your (and our!) favorite former WB stars are back on TV with their reality show on the Style Network, called Tia and Tamara Take 2. We still have no idea which is which, BTW. Click the image to find out more on the ladies’ new show.

(Screengrabs via Zimbio and MyStyle.com, respectively)

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.