A Day at the U.S. Open
by Molly Young
The U.S. Open is not a typical American sporting event. The score is announced by a voice with a vague European accent and the event is sponsored by luxury brands: Lexus, JP Morgan, Heineken. I meet a pair of Italian princesses on my way into Arthur Ashe stadium. Most of the people occupying courtside seats are tinkering with blackberries, and there are significantly more blondes and Chanel cap-toe shoes than you'd expect to find at, say, a football game.
The first match we see is between Marat Safin (Russian) and Vince Spadea (American). Safin walks like Gene Kelly. He's as graceful as possible without losing an ounce of masculinity. Spadea has legs like cedar trunks.
I've never seen live tennis before, and a few obvious thoughts present themselves. One, the ball moves faster than I thought. They must slow it down on television. Two, the stadium is almost silent. After a stellar point there might be a murmur of polite applause, but otherwise you can hear the squeaking of shoes against court. We're more an audience than a crowd.
Serena Williams is scheduled to play as soon as the match between Safin and Spadea is over, and her agent sits in front of us with a plastic badge announcing her VIP privileges. She's a tall woman in a blazer, the kind you'd classify on first glance as a 'tough cookie'. At one point she turns around and spots me writing something down.
"Are you writing or watching?" she asks, staring. "Do you want to be here or not?"
"Are you kidding?" I say.
"I've never seen anyone write at a match," she says, turning back to the game.
At one point Safin gets pissed and throws his racket into the air. "Tranquilo," someone yells. He ends up winning the match and shortly afterwards Serena Williams comes out with her opponent, a delicate-looking girl named Kateryna Bondarenko.
Serena is a babe. In red dress and big earrings, she could be dressed to go out if it weren't for the huge Nikes on her feet. Her status as an exceptional human being is apparent in her posture and proportions. She operates with the restraint of someone whose talent is commonly acknowledged. Watching her move about the court is a little like standing inside the Metropolitan Museum or some other grand human achievement. You feel ennobled by association.
The game starts and Serena proceeds to crush Bondarenko. There's something solemn about the slaughter. I have to leave midway through, and I say goodbye to my friend who arranged for our tickets. He is a friend of Serena's, and later that night I get an e-mail from him with some photos from the day.
"I saw Serena after the match," he wrote. "She asked me who was that Lolita chick I was with."
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"I'm Ready (live)" - Allison Weiss (mp3)
prince designed wii tennis rackets
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