Who's looking sharp, on and off the courts
Preparation, as we all know, is an important part of tennis. It’s also a crucial aspect of surviving the Roland Garros fortnight.
When the rains visited us on Tuesday night I had no protection. Like many thousands earlier that day I’d journeyed to the venue in blazing sunshine. So a summery shirt and light linen trousers were entirely apt.
As the grey clouds hovered that evening, I wondered if I could make it away before the rain. I couldn’t. I had to go back to my locker and change into "expendable" cotton shorts and tracksuit top to make my way home.
Wednesday was quite straightforward: I cycled from central Paris to Roland Garros and came armed with waterproofs.
Unbeknown to me, attire was to be the talk of the day.
In her second-round match against the unseeded Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja, Venus Williams, the second seed, sported a lacy number that she’d designed herself.
The idea of the dress, said the elder Williams girl, is to stimulate the imagination by allusion.
This coming from a player who leaves very little to the imagination on the court. She doesn’t half belt the ball.
But all hail Venus’s dainty side, say I. If she wants to run with a lace number then I am certainly not going to go up to her and shout : "Oi Venus, you’re six foot one, you can’t do frilly lace."
I’d proably end up with lacerations on my face.
Venus is trying to add the Roland Garros crown to her trophy cabinet. It’s the only grand slam missing from the collection.
Her younger sister Serena has 12 majors, including a title captured here eight years ago. The lady she beat in that final? One Venus Williams.
The men’s world number one Roger Federer was in a similar position last year – no, not wearing a lace dress.
He hadn’t won at Roland Garros. His haul of titles was claimed at the Australian Open (three), Wimbledon (five), and the US Open (five).
Beating Robin Soderling in last year’s showdown put him on 14 grand slams – thereby equalling the record of the American Pete Sampras. Sampras, though, had never won at Roland Garros.
Federer – whose attire is white shorts and socks and an azure blue shirt – assassinates in a silky silence.
He turned up to his press conference looking rather gauche by Venus’s sartorial standards. He admitted his blue tracksuit top was far too close in hue to his tennis shirt. And once on that road he knew he couldn’t dodge the other significant issue.
"I’m wearing this hat because my hair doesn’t look right."
Back on the court, nothing was going right for the women’s defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The unseeded German Andrea Petkovic was leading 5-4 and serving at 40-0.
But the Bosnian-born 22-year-old frittered those match points away and then a fourth after saving a break point. Kuznetsova brought it back to 5-5 and then won set. She took the decider 6-4.
Petkovic wasn’t prepared for victory.
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