A Decade Later Andre Agassi Returns to the Court

On Tuesday evening, Agassi stunned fans at the U.S. Open, not with his forehand, but with his entourage of 150 clones, dressed in that beloved retro garb, complete with identical shaggy mullets. The Agassi’s roamed the streets of New York all day before the games began at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The spectacle marked the start of a partnership between the beloved tennis star and Lavazza, the Italian coffeemakers who also know a thing or two about changing the game – founder Luigi Lavazza invented espresso 120 years ago.

As Lavazza’s spokesman, Agassi won’t be returning to the sport that made him a household name, but rather giving the next generation the tools they need to succeed. One dollar from every coffee sold at the U.S. Open will be donated to the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. Funds will go towards helping students pay tuition as well the “Summer of a Lifetime” program at Agassi’s own Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Nevada. The program prepares students for the challenges they’ll face in college.

In many ways, Lavazza and Agassi is a perfect pair. Both are synonymous with their field, both raised the bar in a way that has yet to be surpassed and both deliver a jolt of energy. This is a (game, set and) match we can get behind. Learn more about this game changing partnership by watching the video below.

Federer + Jordan: The Best Endorsement for the New Nike

When Roger Federer steps onto the court tonight for the first match of the U.S. Open, he’ll do so in the new NikeCourt Zoom Vapor AJ3. The sneaker melds the design and lifestyle-aesthetic of a basketball sneaker with Federer’s signature Nike–the Aiz Zoom Vapor 9. By the way–the inspiration comes not just from any basketball lifestyle, but that of Michael Jordan, thereby making this shoe essentially the baby of an athletic power couple. Once Federer’s served (haha) inspiration on the court, you can snag a pair tomorrow.

Check out the athletes engaging in a different kind of play:

Ping-Pong Bars in Which to Live Your U.S. Open Dreams in Miniature

Toy poodles, Mini Coopers, Lil’ Wayne. Apparently, size does matter, and the smaller the better. So if you want to be really trendy this tennis season, go small or go home. What’s better than normal-size tennis? Table-sized tennis, of course. For those of you who don’t want to trek out to Flushing for the U.S. Open this year, we’ve compiled a list of New York’s finest establishments where you can play ping-pong, drink, and watch the matches all at the same time. Seriously, why would you want to see a life-size Federer? It’s so much cooler to see a mini Federer on a flat screen.

BlackBook Tracks #7: Let’s All Care About Sports More Than We Normally Do

So, how about those Olympics? That’s a thing that’s happening, right? London’s being taken over by tourists and athletes and said athletes’ wild sex. Considering that I spend the majority of my time sitting in front of a computer, I don’t really know that much about sports, but here are some tenuously thematic tracks.

Hot Chip – “Wrestlers”
Not only are Hot Chip one of the best bands, their music will be used during the Olympics to score one of the best sports: ping-pong.

Girls Aloud – “Swinging London Town”
Sure, the Spice Girls are reuniting for the Olympics, but here’s something from another girl group on hiatus for you. Girls Aloud never grabbed much of an audience outside of the UK, but it’s never too late to discover pop perfection.

Surfer Blood – “Swim”
It feels like a while since we’ve heard from Florida rockers Surfer Blood, whose debut album Astrocoast was a favorite from 2010. Go ahead and listen to this while reading internet comments about the number of bags that need to be put over Michael Phelps’s head or something.

Jonquil – “Run”
Things I would rather do than actually go running: listen to this song from the perennially pleasant Oxford band Jonquil, featured on their recent LP Point of Go.

Tennis – “Petition”
I played tennis as a kid because my mom said I would like it and Michael Chang was a rare celebrity role model for Asian-Americans during the 90s. I wasn’t very good at it, so now the closest I get is listening to the retro-pop duo called Tennis. This is a highlight from their latest album Young And Old.

The Jam – “London Traffic”
So apparently, a huge influx of people entering a city makes traffic really bad. Here is a song entitled “London Traffic” from 1977, truly a message for the ages.

The Specials – “Too Much Too Young”
The closing ceremonies of the Olympics are set to showcase various artists from Britain’s proud musical history, including ska legends the Specials.

New Order – “Age of Consent”
Not only are New Order also performing at the closing ceremonies, it’s scientifically proven (not really) that “Age of Consent” is one of the best summer songs ever.

Blur – “For Tomorrow”
A significant portion of America is going to have to find out that Blur made more than “that woohoo song” when they headline the closing ceremonies. Here is my favorite Blur song, from 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish.

The Ruby Suns – “Olympics On Pot”
It’s almost guaranteed that someone from Vice is going to go to the Olympics on acid, but the title of this song offers a back-up idea.

Harry and the Potters – “Voldemort Can’t Stop The Rock”
The opening ceremonies of the Olympics are apparently set to include a bunch of Mary Poppinses fighting a giant Voldemort. Because there is no reason why they shouldn’t.

Ralph Lauren To Teach Tennis Online

On the heels of Nadal’s victory at the French Open, Ralph Lauren’s namesake brand is launching a website initiative that hopes to appeal to lovers of the sport the globe over by teaching tennis skills via a virtual clinic. “Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. will mark the 10th anniversary of its Web site this fall and, to kick off the celebrations, will introduce another aspect of what it calls ‘merchantainment’—just in time for the Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis championships,” says Women’s Wear Daily. Polo will debut features like “a one-hour interactive virtual Legends Clinic… featuring three-time Wimbledon champion [and former RL brand ambassador] Boris Becker answering live questions and unveiling a few game techniques,” adds WWD. As for the merchandise on the site, “online visitors will also be able to buy Becker’s outfit during the clinic with a few simple clicks of the mouse.” Who’s next up to host?

Venus Williams. Becker and Venus will likewise host an event at RL’s London flagship just in time for Wimbledon.

This endeavor marks the first time Ralph Lauren will accept advertising from other brands. Starting with the clinic, Mercedes-Benz will begin advertising on various pages of the fashion behemoth’s website. Considering the brand is generating original content, the move toward accepting advertisers is a natural one. That said, it likewise solidifies the brand’s emergence not only as a fashion heavyweight, but a formidable creator of content as well, which (as we’ve seen with The Art of the Trench and similar endeavors) seems to be what every major fashion company is shooting for these days.

Sharapova Upgrades to Cole Haan

imageAnd now, a brief break from Fashion Week. Let’s talk fashion … and sports! With the US Open selling a record number of tickets, tennis apparel is seeing a boom. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, tennis gear sales are up and hitting a higher growth rate in popularity than any other sport, with an 18.7% increase in participation in 2007. And according to WWD, this growth — especially in women’s — means increased gear and apparel sales in addition to more court time. Case in point: Maria Sharapova’s new Cole Haan line (Cole Haan Sporting), announced on the heels of her grievous abandonment of the miniskirt. “Mixing fashion and sport is an important trend that we see now,” says prexy Jim Seuss. The line, scheduled to hit stores in February, offers 40 casual pieces for women, and 30 for men.

Rafael Nadal’s New Look

imageNow that Rafael Nadal has unseated Roger Federer as the number one seed, he’s shifting into hot brand status, complete with a new look. Say goodbye to pirate pants and sleeveless tank. Since taking Federer at Wimbledon in July, the baseliner’s management team is wasting no time in marketing his mojo in a brand new wrapper. “It is fair to say that it is more mature,” says a Nike spokesman about his new toggery to be unveiled at the US Open. The company says that while the new outfits are more conservative, they will continue to reflect the Spaniard’s colorful style.

The new Nike wardrobe includes short-sleeve polo shirts with mesh side panels that allow him to “counterpunch with color.” Take that, you dullards! “With colors as vibrant as the culture of Majorca, Rafa will burst onto the court in chlorine blue, orange blaze, white and concord [purple],” says Nike. “Rafa’s contrasting tones are set to shine, day and night in the city that never sleeps.” His shorter shorts will be loose with Velcro fastenings.” Presumably, for quick and easy access.

Openings: Wine Bar Food at US Open

imageGo for the tennis, stay for the food. Keeping with the tradition of delectable eats at the US Open, Tony Montuano of Spiagga fame is making a concession grand-slam with Wine Bar Food. The menu is filled with prosciutto and grana, shaved artichokes, burrata and flamed shrimp with ouzo, not to mention reds and whites from Italy. Go early and often, the Wine Food Bar closes when the Open does.

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Timeline of Tennis Style

imageNow that the Olympics are done, and we’re about to plunge into two weeks of political potshots, let’s take a deep breath and relax with some tennis. The US Open kicks off today; back in June, I addressed the simmering battle of court togs between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. New York magazine is still writing about it, which is fine. But what’s finer is the mag’s historical timeline of tennis fashion. I like to think I know my tennis, but I was schooled — in 1528, King Henry VIII built a court and commissioned the first known tennis uniforms.

And it was Bill Tilden in 1920 who introduced us to preppy cable knits and V-necks. Of course, Rene Lacoste made history in 1927. And who can forget Bjorn Borg’s headbands of the 1970s? Sure, we temporarily lost our fashion sense during Agassi’s reign of denim shorts, frosted hair, an painful, eye-popping shirts. But now, thankfully, we are back to muted classics, letting the game speak for itself.