Google Down the Line!: 2014-07-13

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sloane Stephens and the art of the magazine interview

Sloane Stephens is featured in the August issue of Elle magazine in an article that asks, "Is Sloane Stephens the Future of American Tennis?" It's a profile piece on the 21-year old they dubbed the "newly anointed princess of American tennis." Fair enough. Amongst the crop of female upstarts in the US, including Madison Keys, CoCo Vendeweghe, Lauren Davis, and Grace Min, Sloane is the only one to have broken through at the majors (reaching the second week six straight times at one point) and to have defeated Serena Williams. The article, however, is far from fairy-tale stuff. If the goal of the interview was to enhance Sloane’s public persona and engender her to a mainstream audience, she may have lost the plot.

From the beginning, it’s obvious the writer was thrown for a loop once she meets Sloane in the flesh.
“I’m at some level expecting Grace Kelly; instead, I get Cher Horowitz.” 
So there’s the set up. The article continues and, at one point, Sloane discusses a visit to her gynecologist, who happens also to be a tennis fan.
“I saw my gyno today, and she’s like, ‘I can’t wait for Indian Wells,’ ” Stephens says. Indian Wells, for the uninitiated, is a major tennis tournament in Southern California in March, and Stephens’ doctor, it seems, is also one of her ardent fans. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! She’s looking in my vajay!’” 
Overshare much? Not quite the image you may have had of Sloane, or wanted for that matter. Later, she pays a visit to the offices of Lagardère Unlimited, her management company. After complaining about the trek to get there (yes, LA traffic is notoriously horrific), she and the writer arrive for a session of autographing items for a USTA kids’ day event. Sloane signs a batch of visors and signals that she’s had enough.
“I’m not signing those wristbands, I hope you know,” she announces, breaking the awkward silence that has settled over the room. Soon, Stephens declares she’s done. “I’m not signing any more. There’s not that many kids in the world.”
Gruff. She also manages to pack in references to Caroline Wozniacki, Khloe Kardashian, Katy Perry, and Beyonce in the piece. They’re all reminders that, after all, she’s only 21-years old.

There’s been plenty of criticism online towards Sloane for the things that were said in this article; and some of it is deserved. She comes across at times like the stereotypically spoiled athlete who can’t pump her own gas or who won’t sign enough wristbands. Rather than consider the fact that she might be missing out on something important like a formal education, she’d prefer to take a nap. Not major offenses, but certainly immature. But, how many stupid things did I say when I was 21 that I wish I could take back? There are plenty. Lucky for me, though, they’re not in print (unless you count my journals…and you can’t).

It was only last year that Serena made controversial remarks in Rolling Stone magazine about the Steubenville rape case (MUCH worse) along with catty musings allegedly referring to Maria Sharapova. She made the obligatory public apology and vowed to do better. ReRe has been in the media glare going on 15 years and she was still caught off guard by some of things she said that ended up being published. It’s a continual learning process even for a veteran.

There’s definitely something about her penchant for oversharing that feels generational. She’s part of an age group that has grown up with social media, where oversharing has become normalized and habitual. And it doesn’t end online. If you know anyone of that generation, you’ll see that their first instinct once something happens in their lives – good, bad, whatever – is to share it with their friends and “friends.” It’s a way of connecting and belonging, and it doesn’t change just because someone is famous. The oversharing also feels compulsive and, as the writer put it, an “unconscious ploy to put people at a distance, to keep expectations low.” With all that Sloane’s been through in her personal life (as detailed in the article), it shouldn’t be a surprise that her best offense is a strong defense.

As the public, we want our athletes to be “real”, to be heroic, and to tell us what they think. We seek them out on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with what they’re doing on a daily basis. We follow them on Instagram hoping for a genuine snapshot of their lives, only to find out that what we’re seeing is both literally and figuratively filtered. We don’t really want to know that they’d rather not autograph every single freebie because they happen to be in a mood (I MEAN, IT’S FOR THE KIDS!!). They owe us, the fans, a genuine effort and an appreciation for the position they worked hard to achieve.

Maybe having a veil over what they really think and feel is a good idea after all.

[Photo(s) credit:]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Maria Sharapova towers over Floyd Mayweather at the ESPY Awards

GIF: Maria Sharapova boxes out Floyd Mayweather, then leans o... on Twitpic
No one upstages Maria Sharapova. Unless you're Floyd Mayweather.

The diminutive boxer was given the royal treatment during his introduction at last night's ESPYs by host Drake, including a rolled out red carpet. But the Russian was having none of it. She walked out in front of Mayweather, took over the podium, and then asked, "Wow, where was my introduction?" Maria then used the 5' 6" boxer to prop herself up. Drake isn't making many friends in tennis.

Sharapova won for Best Female Tennis Player and Rafael Nadal picked up the ESPY for Best Male Tennis Player.

Grigor Dimitrov and Sloane Stephens attended the show along with Maria.

We even got a peek into the shoe collection the 5-time Grand Slammer got to choose from for the night's festivities.

And, an awards show wouldn't be complete without some selfies, right?

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PHOTO OP: Roger Federer's game on Lindsey Vonn's surface - who wins?

Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn came together on a make-shift tennis court atop a glacier in the Swiss Alps as part of the #chocolateheaven promotion for Lindt Chocolate. The company is opening a new store in town and brought along the sports superstars to help with the launch.

Now THIS is what you're supposed to do on ice:

ICYMI: The pair shot a video that features them talking about the challenge via Skype.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images, Reuters]

Monday, July 14, 2014

PHOTO OP: Novak Djokovic and Jelena Ristic tie the knot

Novak Djokovic and Jelena Ristic, who is pregnant with the pair's first child, were married last Thursday at Montenegro's Aman Sveti Stefan resort. Hello! magazine was given the exclusive by the couple.
'I am marrying the woman I love and there is no better feeling than that,' he told the magazine. 'To win Wimbledon and to now be preparing for fatherhood - I couldn't ask for more.'
You can see more images here and here.

[Photo(s) credit: Hello! magazine]

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