short balls: good photos, gays and serena sings (!!!)


Snuggly and warm.
One of our favorite parts of Majors is that there are photographers — everywhere. It’s like the worlds of Kim Kardashian and President Obama have combined into one, and these photogs aren’t missing a thing! While the on-court shots can be dramatic and story telling and gripping all at once, there is something about the around-the-grounds photos that you really can’t match. Check out today’s batch from Roland Garros here. | More: All RG photos

Not Herstory, Queerstory. A new book, A Queer History of the United States, looks at the last 500 years of gay Americans. Didn’t think gays stretched beyond Bill Tilden and the roaring ’20s? Not the case. Michael Bronski pens the book which documents gay Americans at every turn of history. One misstep he says the gays made/are making? A push for marriage equality.

USA takeover. No, we’re not talking about the Americans in Paris! (Though, with what we had to start the tournament, wouldn’t you say we’ve had a fine showing so far? BMS, Mardy Fish, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and others have turned in a fine performance.) We mean the fact that USA Network (you know the one — is used to run the U.S. Open!) has taken over a special issue of the New Yorker, eating up the mag’s entire advertising space. The newsstand-only issue (when was the last time you heard such terminology?!) came out on Monday.

She is. Serena Fierce.
 Sometimes you just have to sit back and let Serena do her thing. We’ll never completely understand her, but we don’t think she wants us to. That would just un-glamorize ReRe. It’s been an active month for the inactive player: To start, a man was arrested for allegedly stalking Serena. Then, a week later, Serena posted a revealing Avatar on her Twitter account, only to take it down a week later after online outcry. But Serena has saved the best for the beginning of the French, where we know she would much rather be. How to ring in the third straight Slam that is Serena-less?? By singing Beyonce‘s (OK, Destiny Child‘s) “Survivor.” At karaoke. And putting it up on YouTube. ‘Nuff said. Click the image to watch.

More power ballads:
Remember Justine’s musical musings?

Find a ladder and climb it. We’re digging the new site, TennisLadders.NET — and not just because the NET is in all caps. The site caters to recreational players per their geographical location, pairing you up with a player in your area who is willing and wanting to play. Want to climb the ladder? Work your way up. While the site has a California-heavy following right now, it will eventually be national. Says the TennisLadders team: “We are home of the ‘quick challenge’ where users can challenge each other at the click of a button and report their score back on the site.  Your ranking is automatically adjusted as you report your scores and climb the ladder.” We love good, old fashioned competition. Join up, y’all.

(Ball kids image by FFT via RG.com; Serena vid screen grab via YouTube)

short balls: gilt gets big and three boys make big (and different) decisions

Hockey (player) for homos: As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo amps up his serious push for a marriage equality bill in Albany, the Human Rights Campaign scored a big win in the fight for equal rights: a major sports league male. Sean Avery of the New York Rangers is known as fashion-conscious (check out the glasses) and the 31-year-old NHL veteran isn’t shying away from being the first New York professional athlete to campaign from the cause. And this shouldn’t surprise anyone: he’s Canadian. The former Chelsea resident now lives in SoHo.

Gilty of it: One of our fave online shopping outlets, Gilt, is getting rather giant, actually. The member-based site was valued at $1 billion recently, according to a New York Times article. A new investor in the fashion-savvy site? Goldman Sachs. Guess the big boys are finally getting serious about this online shopping thing, eh? More: Venus’ EleVen on Gilt

Tattoo watch hide your eyes: We think it better to close your eyes on this one. The Utah Jazz’s Andrei Kirilenko (he’s Russian, but not related to Maria as far as we know) reveals his latest body art. And… are there any words? Nope. None at all. Just… nothing. TSF Vault: The (classier) tattoos of the tennis tours

Schockingly perfect: There really is only one word for Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock: HOT. Yep, the soon-to-be-30 Republican from the Midwest is giving you a corn-fed washboard stomach on the current cover of Men’s Health. His reasoning to go almost-shirtless on the cover of a national mag? To promote healthy living. Hey, we appreciate such things, Aaron! But we’re still waiting for Mrs. O’s abs on the cover of Shape – and that ain’t happening until January 2017 at the earliest.
Short(er) balls: While we may be a little late to the game (the event was tonight), ESPN the Mag teamed up with popular San Francisco-based Pop Up Magazine tonight on NYU’s campus in downtown Manhattan. That’s right — a live magazine. Regular This American Life-contributor Starlee Kine was going to be there, as were ESPN writers like Katie Baker and Alyssa Roenigk. The event featured artists and columnists as well, and we can’t wait to see/hear/smell/listen/touch what pieces of brilliance comes out from the evening after tonight. | In a strange story getting stranger, Nancy Kerrigan was due to testify at her brother’s trial today in the death of  her father. | And just in case you forgot about our friends at Tennishead.net, we’re loving their British-inspired tennis coverage.

short balls: renee reverberations

Sunday sun: The sun is out in NYC today, but before TSF East goes galavanting through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, we wanted to check in on the week that was for Renee, Eric Drath’s Renee Richards documentary at the now-ending TriBeCa Film Festival.

TSF Vault: Our interview with Eric | Buy: TFF tote

I checked out the film this past Thursday with TSF contributor Troy Venechanos and was wowed by Renee’s story. Like most followers of the pro game, I knew the Renee story as a monumental one. But, as a 25-year-old, I didn’t understand its historic significance, nor did I realize how it divided the sport as it did. One festival goer asked Drath in the post-movie Q&A about Chris Evert‘s involvement in being interviewed for the docu (only a clip of Evert from the 70s appears in the film). “Her agent made it clear she didn’t want to be involved,” Drath told the questioner.

But Martina, BJK and Johnny Mac all appeared in candid, recent interviews. Perhaps most telling were the host of Renee’s — and Dick’s (Renee before her transformation) — friends who told the story from a personal POV. Compelling to say the least.

Headliner: The film got an extra boost from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who wrote about it in her column this week when news broke that a transgender woman in Maryland had been beaten at a McDonald’s. And of course the Village Voice‘s Michael Musto had his musings on the film, too.

Watch: The film was part of the ESPN line-up at TFF and will air on the channel on a TBD date this fall.

(Image by Getty Images)

who’s in bed with jarmila gajdosova?

Ahh, nothing better than using YouTube as DIY therapy, no? (See what wonders it did for that UCLA student de-stressing before finals!). In the case of the recently divorced Jarmila Gajdosova, it gets a little creeeeepy as she professes her feelings for her true love from across that California King Bed.

On the flip side, we like it when people can make light of super-serious situations.

(video via Wilson)

glamming up the gals

Fashionable fella: The WTA recently announced a global partnership with Oriflame, a Sweden-based cosmetics company. For the Player Party in Miami, Oriflame sent its Global Beauty Artistic Director, Jonas Wramell, to glam up Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka. Wramell discussed the looks each of the ladies like – color for Caro and “classy” black for Vika – and put his team to work. Can we just say we were digging hairstylist James Stafford below? When does TSF get the Oriflame treatment?

Wramell knows how to doll up the best of ‘em. The world-famous make-up artist joined Oriflame in the fall of 2009 after a dozen years of doing make up for the stars. WATCH below.

(Image and video courtesy of the WTA)

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: aussie hangover

There is plenty to be said about this year’s Australian Open. We’ll leave most of the match breakdowns and this’s and that’s to the experts: On Tennis.com, Tom Perrotta is saying that this is a Major that the ladies should be proud of – and I quite agree. Isn’t it crazy what a quality tournament this was, even though the likes of Ivanovic, Venus, Justine and Maria couldn’t even crack deep into the second week? Kudos, gals. Now, let’s get to the good, juicy TSF stuff.

Speaking of Venus, how strange was the word-vomit Tweet barrage from her mother, Oracene Price on Friday? Oracene Tweeted around 60 times in a matter of hours, complimenting Novak DjokovicPetra Kvitova (which Oracene could never spell right) and Li Na along the way. But in the same breath, Oracene poked fun at Clijsters and said she hoped Li would “kick some butt.” That was as talkative as Oracene has been – both online or in person – ever. Here, she seems to make a strange (and confusing) claim that Clijsters is “dubious:”

Twitter-pated: More of Oracene on TSF | Follow Oracene on Twitter | Follow TSF

Hoping to catch Kimmie at the 2012 Olympics before she signs off for good? You probably will get to swig back a Heineken or two, as the London Games are supposedly close to signing a deal with the Dutch beer-producer, according to Marketing magazine: “Heineken will have pouring rights to the hospitality outlets at the 2012 Games and also have the marketing rights to the Olympics and Paralympics, reports Marketing magazine.” (via Sports City)

Close to Melbourne, but across the ocean… Ryan Harrison was victorious in an all-American final at the Honolulu challenger. He took down Alex Kuznetsov to capture the crown, $7,200 and 80 ranking points. Three American women (Julia Cohen, Irina Falconi and Madison Brengle) are doing the dirty work on the USTA Pro Circuit this week. They are the top three seeds in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

And if you haven’t seen this video of a streaker running into a bit of streaking bad luck, you must:

(ao photo by jheritage via flickr; oracene screen grab via twitter; video screen grab via youtube)

sunday survey: week 1’s wackiest?

Week one of the Australian Open is over and done with: seven days of play down, seven to go. But there were seven instances out of the tennis norm that caught our eye, and we’re wondering for today’s Sunday Survey: which moment was the wackiest? Choose in the survey below. And if you’re not sure what we’re referencing, check out videos on each occurrence after the jump.

Click here for a video vault on all seven moments. [Read more...]

rafa ripped, in armani jeans (+ undies)

Yes, lady and gents, we get it. This last week – as we’ve covered week one of the Aussie Open – we’ve lacked in one important (very, very important) arena: men. Sure, there was Milos Raonic, but all Milo has going for him is that Lacoste kit he’s sporting. Oh, and his six-match winning streak. But what’s winning if you can’t take your shirt off?!

Enter Rafael Nadal and Armani’s well-timed launch of their use of their latest athlete-turned-model. First there was Beckham and Ronaldo, but now we have Rafa. And aren’t we oh so happy? And there is an underwear shot, too. After the cut. More: Armani on TSF | Our shirtless vault

[Read more...]