Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The New York Times Magazine has taken an innovative approach to its in-depth look into the state of modern women's tennis timed appropriately for the start of the US Open next week utilizing various forms of media to bring their words to life. It's a study in multi-media storytelling using different forms to draw the same picture, in this case the power of women's tennis.
The print piece is an article by Michael Kimmelman entitled "How Power Has Transformed Women's Tennis" which begins with Justine Henin practicing and apparently out-gassing her male hitting partner at Wimbledon back in June and ends at the ladies' Wimbledon final. But in between these bookends is an examination of the power inside women's tennis including the expansive reach of the WTA into China, the increase in prize money (and equal pay at Slams), the growing global marketing prowess of the tour and some of the ballers and, of course, the lady ballers themselves including the quintessential power merchants and game-changers, Venus and Serena Williams.
Accompanying the print article are two visual forms: a slideshow and slow motion video shot by Dewey Nicks featuring ReRe, Jelena Jankovic, Kim Clijsters, Elena Dementieva, Victoria Azarenka, Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva doing what they do best in a smokey bare room outfitted not in their usual tennis wear but in mostly high, frilly fashion. He creates a fascinating balance between the intensity of who they are as ballers - complete with sweat, messy hair, and protruding musculature - and the fact they they are women who happen to be athletes.
His use of slow motion and delicate soundtrack offers a sense of restraint and control juxtaposed against the untamed nature of their racquet's impact, dark lighting, exploding powder and glitter and wild, unkempt hair. A history of tennis, if you will. The brilliance in the visual, however, is neither side takes precedence; they are one and the same. Powerful and equal.
A must read and see.
[Photo(s): Dewey Nicks for The New York Times]