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News and notes from the U.S. Open

Archive for August, 2006

Code words for “fat”

August
31

Whenever Serena Williams plays, people use code words to talk about her weight. Here’s why: it’s not OK to talk about a woman’s weight. So they say things like she’s not “fit” when they really mean “fat.”

Expect to see that a lot of talk about “fitness” since Williams played Daniela Hantuchova yesterday. Hantuchova got the opposite of what Williams did, and has been called too thin or unhealthy. Not fit enough.

“What is troubling to one player is the exact opposite for another player,” Lindsay Davenport said. “We’re out here obviously as athletes, but just like any other woman. You know, it’s society’s problem. It’s not just, you know, in women’s tennis.”

This is a loaded topic. Women are constantly judged on their appearance — why else airbrush Katie Couric? — rather than what they can do. In this one regard, Serena Williams is a role model, every pound of her. Even with her ranking, she can batter a tennis ball into submission. And she wasn’t exactly a sylph when she was on top of her game. Knees and dedication (and no that doesn’t mean to a diet) have had more to do with her demise than a number on a scale.

“I think to me, a strong, athletic woman seems a lot healthier than just, you know, weight,” Davenport said. “Like, you know, instead of what the scale says.”

Swimmers need an extra layer of fat to stay warm in the water. The women who play tennis need strong muscles to play the power game. Let’s stop using their bodies to perpetuate the subtle message that sends girls to the scale to see if they are good enough.

If Serena lost yesterday, it would have been that she wasn’t “fit” enough. If Hantuchova lost, it’s that she is too thin. Really. When it comes to weight and perception, neither one of them can win.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, August 31st, 2006 at 4:44 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Project Serena

August
31

I wasn’t going to bring it up, I’m no fashion maven and I hate the focus on style over substance, but when Serena did her Heidi Klum impersonation yesterday it triggered my memory.

On this season’s “Project Runway” there was a designer, Bonnie, who said she had worked with Serena in the past. Bonnie said that working with tennis stars in creating outfits was a challenge because they need to think they are experts, and they need to be led to a workable idea.

OK, so I’m outted as a PR watcher. But I couldn’t help but think of Bonnie when Serena said this:

“When I was designing it, I was like, we need to keep the silhouette really simple and just have the fabric and the pattern do all the talking.”

Uh-huh.

And while I’m ranting. This is the second straight day that the crowd here will be subjected to Maria Sharapova’s rainbow kisses. It’s that condescending little move she makes to all the sides of the stadium after a win. But I’m not picking on her alone. I thing Andre Agassi’s four-corner bow is equally annoying.

Now I’ve gone and trashed a legend. Let the hate posts begin.

Posted by Jane McManus on Thursday, August 31st, 2006 at 11:27 am |
| | 1 Comment »

Don’t think about it

August
30

As I was walking on the walkway from the tennis center to the No. 7 subway train tonight, I saw a middle-aged couple busted for scalping by a cop in street clothes.

The couple, who clearly were not lifetime criminals, begged and pleaded with the officer, offered to refund the money, etc., to no avail (apprently, purchasing scalped tickets is not a crime, so the buyers just stood there motionless the whole time).

So don’t try scalping your US Open tickets outside the gates. It’s illegal to sell the tickets at any price, even below face value, and undercover officers are enforcing this.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 at 11:26 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

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Englishmen in New York

August
30

With 40 men’s matches and 32 women’s matches, there was excitement all around the USTA BJK NTC today. Some players, including seeded American Robby Ginepri and Paul Goldstein, who won the Kennedy Funding Invitational in Rockland County, still haven’t taken the court yet.

Some of the best action has been on the outer courts, with the day’s biggest upset victim (No. 11 Anastasia Myskina), weirdest outfit (American Bethanie Mattek, wearing a puffy shirt and what looks like knee stockings), most entertaining player (“The Magician”, Fabrice Sontoro) and toughest decision (English fans during the Tim Henman-Greg Rusedski match).

Sting wasn’t there, but every other Englishman in New York seemed to be at Court 11. The one I was sitting next to, Richard Upton of Essex (outside London), waved his English flag and said he was rooting for whichever player was on his side of the net. I guess that system is as good as any.

The crowds have been large — it seems a lot of people have exchanged their tickets from Tuesday — and fans had to be turned away from Louie Armstrong while Martina Hingis and James Blake were on. Even at the practice courts, the crowds were five deep watching players like Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova warm up.

Should be more of the same tomorrow, but the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto could be a problem this weekend.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 at 7:27 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Good idea, but…

August
30

Today would be a great time to exchange those tickets from yesterday — 1/2 of the women’s draw, and 2/3 of the men’s draw have to complete their first-round matches today, which means top seeds are playing all around the grounds.

But — and it’s a big but — everyone appears to be thinking that exact same thing. The line to exchange tickets goes from the USTA Box Office, all the way over the pedestrian ramp that connects Corona Park to the Shea Stadium No. 7 subway ramp. The wait must be hours.

It still might be a good idea to exchange your tickets today (the other options are tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 5-7 or wait until next year), but just be prepared.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 at 12:13 pm |
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Finally, some tennis

August
30

After two cancelled sessions, looks like it will be a long, dry day at the Open. There are five matches scheduled for each court as the USTA tries to make up for lost time. It’s one of those rare days when fans can get a grounds pass and watch 12+ hours of tennis, no problem.

The long-term weather forecast calls for the remnants of Ernesto to hit New York on Saturday, meaning two more days of possible rain. With the indoor practice courts torn down, that could lead to more player frustration with the USTA.

There is a new three-story building, with lockers, hospitality and perhaps shopping scheduled to be ready for 2008, but that’s not going to help this weekend.

Posted by Jane McManus on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 at 11:03 am |
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Day session: Cancelled

August
29

This might not come as a surprise to anyone who looked at the window today, but the day session was officially cancelled. Ticket-holders have two options, and neither involve getting a refund:

1) Come to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and exchange your ticket for the day sessions on Aug. 30-Sept. 1 or Sept. 5-7, subject to availability.

2) Exchange your tickets for a comparable seat in next year’s tournament. Make a written request, along with your tickets, by certified mail to the US Open Ticket Office, USTA National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Flushing, NY 11368

Still no word on the night session, but Maria Sharapova’s match was already cancelled. The USTA will try to complete the matches that were already on the court, plus James Blake.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 at 7:01 pm |
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Never mind

August
29

Play was suspended at 3:45, and it doesn’t look promising for the rest of the day session. Officially, only the men’s doubles matches have been cancelled.

The players lounge looks like an airport terminal after a large flight was cancelled — Martina Hingis was lounging on a couch, bags were everywhere, and everyone was walking around with a frown.

In the meantime, here’s another trivia question — who’s the only American woman to win a WTA title this year?

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 at 4:57 pm |
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We’re back

August
29

As I was walking through the players lounge, I heard Tim Henman say, “It’s like England.” But the rain has stopped enough for play to begin.

Top seed Amelie Mauresmo hit her first serve at 2:30, starting the action on Arthur Ashe. But right now, her match against Kristina Barrois is the only one on. Lleyton Hewitt (Armstrong) and Gael Monfils (Grandstand) still haven’t started to warm up on the other show courts.

Posted by Harold Gutmann on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 at 2:34 pm |
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Querrey’s Curiosity

August
29

Sam Querrey, an American wild card who has a lot of people talking about the future of men’s tennis. But on Monday night, standing in the corridor which leads to the Ashe Stadium court, he was just an excited kid.

He was there with two friends and they craned their necks to see what was happening during the Billie Jean King dedication ceremony. When they were asked to move, they kept peeking to get a glimpse. The plan was to find a seat in the first-come-first-serve section reserved for players and guests.

You wouldn’t see a lot of other players that into seeing another pro’s match. And if Querrey keeps coming back, he probably won’t either. But for one night at least, he was just another hyped Agassi fan looking for an open seat.

After play was suspended on Tuesday, Gael Monfils played with some of the children in the lounge, and taught one little girl to putt. You would never have known he was in the middle of a match against American Michael Russell, and won the first set 6-2.

Posted by Jane McManus on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 at 1:27 pm |
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About this blog
This is the time of year the tennis world descends upon New York. Jane McManus, Harold Gutmann and Josh Thomson will be sending dispatches from the courts and corridors of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Come back for advice on tickets, parking and whether to go for the hot dog or the lobster roll.
About the authors
Harold GutmannHarold Gutmann Harold Gutmann joined The Journal News in 2002 after graduating from Duke University. He currently focuses on high school sports — he has covered state championship games in 10 different sports. READ MORE
Jane McManusJane McManus Jane McManus has covered sports at The Journal News for eight years, writing about everything from the Final Four and the U.S. Open to rock climbing. READ MORE
Josh ThomsonJosh Thomson Josh, who is 26 and a native of Carmel, graduated from Boston University in 2002 and began working for The Journal News the following March. READ MORE
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