serena williams, sloane stephens and more to headline inaugral taste of tennis in new york city

AYS, the creators and producers of the Taste of Tennis, New York’s premier pre-US Open experience, announced today the first-ever Taste of Tennis Week will take place from August 20th – August 23th, 2014 in New York City. In addition to the renowned Taste of Tennis Gala, Taste of Tennis Week will feature even more tennis-meets-food events, including the Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge on August 20th, Citi Dining Series on August 21st and Party with The Pros on August 23rd.Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens

The 15th Annual Taste of Tennis Gala offers guests the opportunity to sample sensational cuisine prepared by the most prestigious chefs in the world, sip on handcrafted cocktails all while rubbing elbows with professional tennis players. World #1 Serena Williams, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Host of Today Show and MSNBC’s NewsNation, Tamron Hall, will be joined by top tennis players, celebrities and a number of New York’s finest chefs and culinary personalities.

“The Taste of Tennis concept has proven to be so popular, and we are pleased to offer these exciting new events that provide foodies and tennis fans with unprecedented access to their favorite chefs and pro tennis personalities,” explains Penny Lerner, CEO of AYS.

Tickets for the Taste of Tennis Week are currently on sale and can be purchased online via the links below. The complete Taste of Tennis Week schedule of events includes:

Wednesday, August 20th – Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge, 9AM-12PM (Midtown Tennis Club – 341 8th Avenue): Hosted by Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan. At this exciting event, professional chefs will serve up something a little out the ordinary as they compete in a round-robin style doubles tournament to determine who is the King (or Queen) of the court!

  • Participating chefs include: Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Daniel Holzman (The Meatball Shop), Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop), David Seigal (Cull & Pistol), Francois Payard (FPB, FP Patisserie), Zac Young (David Burke Group), Chad Brown (Davio’s), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), Phil Conlon (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), Alfred Portale (Gotham Bar and Grill), Philippe LaJaunie (Les Halles), Carmen Quagliata (Union Square Café), Floyd Cardoz (Celebrated Indian American Chef) and Andrew Friedman (Cookbook Author)
  • $150 to Participate in the Challenge: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrity-chef-tennis-challenge-tickets-12319053621

Thursday, August 21st – Taste of Tennis Gala, 7PM-10PM (W New York- 541 Lexington Ave.): The party that started it all! To celebrate the US Open, AYS created the Taste of Tennis, a one of a kind event featuring fine food prepared by 25 of NYC’s top culinary minds, signature cocktails, interactive sponsor experiences, live music and appearances by the world’s greatest tennis players. Hosting this year’s gala will be Today Show’s Tamron Hall, headlining Chef Masaharu Morimoto and professional tennis star Serena Williams. The evening will be a curated culinary evening with US Open stars, the brightest chefs in New York and celebrities who will be on hand to enjoy the slew of offerings with proceeds benefiting City Harvest.

  • Participating chefs include: Headlining chef, Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto), John Mooney (Bell, Book, & Candle), Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Peter Andino (Heartbeat), Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Bill Telepan (Joel Javier/Larissa Raphael) (Telepan Local), David Seigal (Cull & Pistol), Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga and The Fat Ham), Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat), Phil Conlon (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), Chad Brown (Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse), Carlos Llaguno (Les Halles), Harold Moore (Commerce Restaurant), Ben Pollinger (Oceana), Zac Young (David Burke Group), Georgeann Leaming (Suppa), Admir Alibasic (Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse), Sebastien Chamaret (Bagatelle), Paul Evans (Secrets St. James, JTB) among others.
  • Participating athletes include: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Bryan Brothers, Sloane Stephens, Gael Monfils, Aga Radwanska, Dustin Brown and more to be announced.
  • Major sponsors for the 15th Taste of Tennis include Citi, Rado, Guadalupe Islands Tourist Board, The Cheesecake Factory, Jamaica Tourist Board, W New York, UnBurn, Mouton Cadet and Franciscan Estate Napa Valley, among others.
  • Ticket Information: Individual tickets for the event are available for $275/per person; http://tasteoftennisnyc.eventbrite.com/?aff=PressRelease

Saturday, August 23rd Party with The Pros, 6PM-9PM (Measure Lounge at Langham Place Fifth Ave.): Guests at the Party with the Pros will enjoy an evening of great food, handcrafted signature cocktails and live music, with some of the top names in professional tennis. This exclusive event takes place a Measure Lounge at the luxurious Langham Place Fifth Avenue hotel. Attendance is limited to 150 guests so get your tickets now!

wta 40 love: martina passes $1 million in season prize money

The WTA has released the third episode in their series WTA 40 LOVE Story presented by Xerox, a 10-part video series showcasing the history and growth of the women’s tennis tour. Entitled “1982: Navratilova Passes $1 Million in Season Prize Money,” the third episode highlights Martina Navratilova‘s 1982 season when she became the first woman in tennis history to surpass the $1 million dollar prize money mark in a season.

Watch: “1982: Navratilova Passes $1 Million in Season Prize Money”, WTA 40 Love Story presented by Xerox.

going green: venus williams (‘s diet)

By Benjamin Snyder

Venus Williams has had to change her diet since being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome

No more Oreos or Jamba Juice? Venus is aspiring to have a better diet in 2012. (AFP/Getty)

A tall order for the taller sister. Can the meat-and-potatoes Wimbledon-queen summon her past success as a leaner and greener player?

Older sister Venus, who’s claimed five titles at the All England Club, is having a health scare of her own after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease, which can lead to damage of the body’s vital organs. The illness forced her drop out of the US Open this year and has pushed meat out of her diet.

Despite the seriousness of the condition, Venus has been sporting a positive attitude and even healthier eating habits. She told reporters, “I changed my diet completely, so lots of vegetables. I [altered] my mind frame completely because I was the person who always ate their steak first and their salad second.”

Times are changing for the superstar, who said last year that she “eats to live and not lives to eat.” She continued talking foodie favorites, saying that she considered “beans and rice and blackened chicken” a top meal choice.

Venus discussed her new diet’s impact on the future. “My goal next year is to play a full schedule. It will take some work to get there, but I’m no stranger to hard work.”

TSF Vault: Venus Williams

This recalls the gourmet changes for 2011 ATP success stories Novak Djokovic, who’s claimed three major titles this year, and Andy Murray, who went on a 17-match winning spree after the US Open.

Djokovic’s decision to cut the carbohydrates to curb his Ciliac disease helped him achieve his best season ever, including the No. 1 ranking. Meanwhile, Murray discussed his own gourmet foray into becoming more fit. Before losing to Tomas Berdych in the Paris Masters, he said, “I think there’s a bit of difference in my approach to training and the diet; I feel pretty fresh.”

Not all’s well for the scrawny-looking Scot, who misses being able to pick up a menu and order what he wants. You can almost imagine his mouth watering when he said: “It can be quite frustrating when everyone else is dunking their bread in olive oil or smearing it in butter.”

Murray aside, Venus’ newfound form and fitness will no doubt have fans worldwide salivating for a dominating force in an otherwise floundering WTA. Petra Kvitova, 21, the current world No. 2 and winner of Wimbledon and the Season Ending Championships, might be the answer. She’s still, however, young and half-baked in terms of talent and poise.

It’s time for Venus to turn up the burners and bring back the motivation for which she’s known. Currently ranked No. 103, having only played a handful of tournaments this year, Venus quickly doused rumors of retirement.

“I love the game. The racket feels right in my hand and I’m planning on going right back to where I was at the top of the rankings in the singles and doubles.”

With Venus back in-shape and on form, the alarm bells should be sounding for the rest of the women’s tour. It’ll be tough to get out of the fire and back into the figurative frying pan that is professional tennis at her ripe age of 31. But if anyone can come back from adversity and succeed, it’s a Williams.

High stakes (steaks?), indeed.

flashback: irene inspires irina bump lookback, 1997

Irene-a. While we’re bent on avoiding hurricane — oops, we mean hurrican’t — jokes for now, TSF contributor Troy Venechanos sent this text along to the TSF crew earlier today: “hope you survived hurricane irina spirlea!”

It was one that had us cracking up out loud, and brought to mind the famous “bump,” which — upon watching it again — may have delivered more force to Flushing Meadows than Irene herself. Hard to believe this was 14 years ago in 1997, when a 17-year-old Venus Williams took down Irina Spirlea, the Romanian, 7-6 (5) 4-6 7-6 (7) in the semifinals.

TSF Vault: Flashbacks

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)

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)

sunday survey: punishable offense?

Over and out: Just a day before main draw play was set to get started at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Venus Williams pulled out of the WTA event. While the tournament suffers — as has San Diego and other events this year — Venus doesn’t take much of a hit on her pull out. Sure, there might be an appearance fee that goes unpaid, but is that much to Miss V? Not really. So that has us curious: Should players owe more than just their apologies when pulling out of tournaments last minute?

Weigh in on this question in the comments section.

(Image via Getty)

sunday survey: wimbledon … for which williams?

Sister act, 2011: Venus and Serena have both made their way through the first week of Wimbledon with their respective bumps — we’ll call it “character building” — and are currently on track to meet in the championship match at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009 (they met in the finals in 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009). While both would have to win an impressive three more matches each to get to the finals, they certainly have proven to be unpredictable before, and long layoffs for each has put their games into a realm of unknown.

So, what do you think: which Williams can win Wimbledon? Tell us below.

(Getty Images photo)