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Gender Verification Foolishness Over - Sarah Gronert Cleared To Play

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sarah Gronert, Germany

According to the Metro.co.uk, Sarah Gronert, who was born with both male and female genitalia, has been cleared to compete as a woman.

I honestly thought that this was one of the most extreme gender cases that I've heard in awhile. Holding this young woman hostage while you 'verify her gender' has been absolutely ridiculous and obscene.

I have a very good friend and former work associate who was born with the same issue; if she had not shared the fact with me, I never would have known. This woman's parents had the surgery performed at a period in her life when when everyone involved believed that they were making the correct determination and she is leading a life in the gender that she believes she was born into. Because her surgery was performed so much earlier, she has avoided the potential situation that Gronert has been victimized by, but feels her pain as we have discussed this many times.

This is such a victory for Gronert, and potentially others like her, especially in light of having to endure situation so publicly.

Sarah Gronert is free to face the world's best players after the sport's governing body ruled there was 'sufficient independent and verifiable evidence' she was eligible to play women's tennis.

The 22-year-old, who had her male genitalia removed three years ago, had to have 'gender verification to determine sexual status' under Women's Tennis Association rules.

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Serena Williams Trains At Bollettieri Academy

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams and Nick Bollettieri at Bollettieri AcademySerena Williams and Nick Bollettieri

In preparation for the upcoming European clay court season, including the French Open starting May 24, Serena Williams today arrived at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy/IMG Academies to train with Nick on the campus’ clay courts.

Williams, who is ranked No. 2 in the world, has worked with Nick in the past and wants to again find the magic on clay that led her to a French Open singles title in 2002.

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy

Nick Bollateri's Tennis Academy Blog

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Gael Monfils And Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Back-To-Back As They Head To The Top

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils World RankingsFrenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils

Two of the hottest tickets on the ATP World Tour are Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils. As the world rankings shifted on Monday, April 27, these two each bumped up one spot - Monfils to World No. 9 and Tsonga to World No. 10.

Fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon also ascended from World No. 9 to 7. The wind seems to be blowing very nicely towards France.

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Oreo DSRL Action With Team Coaches Venus And Serena Williams And Eli And Peyton Manning

I absolutely LOVE this campaign, it is too much fun!

In this first video you see DSRL coaches Eli and Peyton Manning and Venus and Serena Williams put their 'twist, lick and dunk' coaching skills to work as they develop team strategy. Listen to the hard charging 'DSRL theme song' that's playing - this is serious!

In this video during DSRL activities, the Manning coaches show the Williams coaches that they have a bit of game on the tennis courts too.

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Tsonga Makes First Round Exit In Rome

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Rome MastersJo-Wilfried Tsonga, France

In a battle of the Frenchmen, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet played a first round match held over from Tuesday because of rain at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia/ATP World Tour Masters 1000, Rome, Italy.

In close to two hours, Gasquet defeated Tsonga 7-6(2), 6-4.

Photo by AP

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Frenchman Gael Monfils Strikes A Pose

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Prince Photo ShootGael Monfils is seen here in a few of the images from a photo shoot for Prince on location in Miami, Florida

Black Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Prince Photo ShootBlack Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Prince Photo ShootBlack Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Prince Photo ShootBlack Tennis Pro's Gael Monfils Prince Photo Shoot

Photos by:
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

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Angela Haynes Out Of Boyd Tinsley Tournament

Black Tennis Pro's Angela Haynes Boyd Tinsley Women's Pro Tennis TournamentAngela Haynes, USA

On Tuesday afternoon at the Boar's Head Inn, Charlottesville, Virginia, the Boyd Tinsley Women's Pro Tennis Tournament began. American Angela Haynes and Croatian Mirjana Lucic were the marquee match for the first round of this event.

Lucic, a 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist, defeated second seeded Haynes 6-4, 6-2.

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Italian Fed Cup Team Talkin' Smack

Francesca Schiavone, Italy

Italy is hoping the Williams sisters decide to skip the Fed Cup final in November. Either way, though, the 2006 champions plan to host the United States in the best-of-five series on the slowest clay they can find.

"I hope the Williams sisters don't come," Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "If they do come, we'll try to beat them. It's not impossible on clay. (Flavia) Pennetta has already beaten Venus more than once."

The 14th-ranked Pennetta beat Venus Williams twice last year _ including a victory at the French Open _ although Venus won their last two meetings.

Italy beat Russia 4-1 and the United States edged the Czech Republic 3-2 in the semifinals last weekend. The Williams sisters _ Venus and Serena _ skipped the trip to Brno, and Fed Cup rookies Alexa Glatch and Bethanie Mattek-Sands lined up for United States captain Mary Joe Fernandez.

The Nov. 7-8 final immediately follows the season-ending WTA Championships in Doha, and Barazzutti expects the Williams sisters to play there. Italy would like to host the final in the south to play outdoors on slow clay to soften the impact of the Williams sister's fierce groundstrokes.

"We're definitely going to play on clay _ very slow clay _ and if possible, outdoors," Barazzutti said. "First we need to determine if we can play outdoors, then we'll choose the most uncomfortable setting possible. Uncomfortable in the sense that it suits us and not the Americans."

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WTA, ATP And USTA Pro Circuit Tennis Action This Week

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Round 1

Raquel Kops-Jones, USA and Sarah Borwell, GBR
Su-Wei Hsieh, TPE and Chanelle Scheepers, RSA
3-6, 6-3 [10/5]

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Raquel Kops-Jones, USA


Round 1

James Blake, USA defeated by Victor Crivoi, ROU
5-7, 3-6

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA defeated by Richard Gasquet, FRA
6-7(2), 4-6


Round 1

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, FRA and Julien Benneteau, FRA
Ross Hutchins, GBR and Andy Murray, GBR
6-4, 6-4

Jeff Coetzee, RSA and Jordan Kerr, AUS

James Blake, USA and Mardy Fish, USA
Simon Aspelin, SWE and Wesley Moody, RSA
7-6(4), 6-1


Round 1

Ahsha Rolle, USA defeated by Ashley Weinhold, USA
3-6, 2-6

Angela Haynes, USA defeated by Mirjana Lucic, CRO
4-6, 2-6


Round 1

Angela Haynes, USA and Alina Jidkova, RUS
Brittany Augustine, USA and Tiya Rolle, USA
6-1, 6-2

Ahsha Rolle, USA Alexandra Mueller, USA
Tarakaa Bertrand, USA and Nicole Rottmann, AUT
6-2, 6-3

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Brittany Augustine, USA
Tiya Rolle, USA


Round 1

Marcus Fugate, USA defeated by Carsten Ball, AUS
1-6, 2-6

Timothy Neilly, BAH defeated Andrea Falgheri, ITA
7-5, 6-4

Phillip Simmonds, USA defeated Carlton Fiorentino, USA
6-3, 6-2

Round 2

Philip Simmonds USA vs. Johannes Robert Van Overbeek, USA

Timothy Neilly, BAH vs. Alexander Domijan, USA


Round 1

Marcus Fugate, USA and Robbye Poole, USA
defeated by
Andrea Falgheri, ITA and Stefano Ianni, ITA
2-6, 2-6

Jarmere Jenkins, USA and Christian Guevara, USA
Jack Anton, USA and Lance Lvovsky, USA
6-0, 6-2

Timothy Neilly, BAH and Ronald Perry, USA
defeated by
Raian Luchici, ROU and Tigran Martirosyan, ARM
6-1, 3-6 [7/10]

Devin Mullings, BAH and Carlton Fiorentino, USA
defeated by
Joe Bates, USA and Ricky Flach, USA
4-6, 3-6

Quarterfinal Round

Jarmere Jenkins, USA and Christian Guevara, USA
defeated by
Raian Luchici, ROU and Tigran Martirosyan, ARM
4-6, 3-6

Eliminated during singles qualifying rounds:

Jarmere Jenkins, USA

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James Blake Upset By Qualifer In Rome

Monday, April 27, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake Rome MastersJames Blake

Black Tennis Pro's James Blake Rome MastersROME — James Blake struggled with the windy conditions and lost to Romanian qualifier Victor Crivoi 7-5, 6-3 Monday in the first round of the Rome Masters.

Blake lost the opening five games against the 112th-ranked Crivoi, rallied to make it 5-5 - saving three set points along the way - then was broken at love to end the first set.

With intermittent rain falling in the second set and the wind swirling on the makeshift secondary stadium court at the Foro Italico, Blake wasted a 2-0 lead and handed Crivoi his first victory on tour this year.

With sixth-ranked Andy Roddick taking a break from the tour following his wedding, the 16th-ranked Blake was the top American in the draw. Blake has now lost both of his matches on clay this year, falling to Guillermo Canas in Houston at the beginning of the month.

Source: The Canadian Press
Photos by AP

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Manning Brothers And Williams Sisters Take On New Role As Coaches

Black Tennis Pro's Venus and Serena Williams Eli and Peyton Manning Double Stuff Racing League



Famous Twist, Lick and Dunk Duos Helped Train Ten Lucky Lickers On How to Win An Oreo Lick Race As They Competed For Part of $10,000 Prize

West Palm Beach, Fla. (April 24, 2009) – Oreo Double Stuf Racing League (DSRL) pros Peyton and Eli Manning and Venus and Serena Williams put their “sibling rivalry” aside to help two teams of finalists (10 winners total) hone their twisting, licking and dunking skills in a race to $10,000, split evenly among their teammates.

Two teams of “lucky lickers” – the Oreo Twisters and Oreo Dunkers – participated in an Oreo DSRL training session with the veteran leaguers Peyton and Eli Manning and Venus and Serena Williams. The teams then proceeded to go head-to-head to lick-off in their competitive event in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus and Serena Williams Oreo Double Stuf Racing LeagueIn this photo released by Kraft Foods, tennis sibling duo, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, share their twist, lick and dunk skills as they train their team to compete in the OREO Double Stuf Racing League finale at the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan, Fla, Friday, April 24, 2009. The team coached by the Williams sisters went on to sweet victory and a $10,000 grand prize. (AP Photo/Kraft Foods, Steve Mitchell)

The Oreo Twisters claimed the title of the new DSRL consumer champions, with Brian Posik, a 20-year old student of Spotswood, N.J. leading the team to victory by being the first to twist, lick and dunk his Oreo Double Stuf cookie and drink his glass of milk the fastest. Each of the five members of the winning team took home $2,000 and earned “cookie bragging rights” to family and friends.

“Being able to train with the Williams on how to do an Oreo Double Stuf lick race was the ultimate Oreo and milk moment for me,” said Posik. “We learned a lot about friendly competition and, of course, we look forward to sharing our winning techniques with others thanks to our win!”

“As a professional athlete who is always striving to play his best, it was fun to switch sides and play ‘coach’ for a change,” said Eli Manning.

Black Tennis Pro's Eli and Peyton Manning Double Stuff Racing LeagueIn this photo released by Kraft Foods, football quarterback brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning share their twist, lick and dunk skills as they train their team to compete in the OREO Double Stuf Racing League finale event at the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan, Fla, Friday, April 24, 2009 for a chance at a $10,000 grand prize. (AP Photo/Kraft Foods, Steve Mitchell)

“We’ve really enjoyed working with the Mannings as part of the Oreo DSRL campaign so this was a great opportunity to come together, continue that fun, friendly and competitive experience and share it with other DSRL fans,” said Serena Williams.

The 10 finalists were divided randomly into two teams for the event. In addition to Posik, the winning team, the Oreo Twisters, included four other “lucky lickers” who shared in the prize:

Bridget Hutchinson of Haskell, N.J.; Harriett Brown of Rockford, Ill.; Matt Kouba of St. Charles, Ill. and Debbie Seavey of Newton Square, Penn.

About the Oreo DSRL Instant Win Promotion

In January, Oreo launched the DSRL instant win game in specially-marked packages of Double Stuf OREO, online and over the radio airwaves. Five DSRL fans were selected to be one of the “lucky lickers” to participate in the final competition from a nationwide on-package / online promotion. The other five “lucky lickers” competed in Oreo lick races as part of radio promotions in select markets and the fastest moved on to the finals in Florida.

More About the Oreo DSRL League

Since its launch in 2008 with Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, the Oreo Double Stuf Racing League continues to grow. Venus and Serena Williams joined in mid-2008 and challenged the Mannings for DSRL supremacy, thus creating the “Ultimate Sibling Rivalry.”

In 2009, the DSRL welcomed its first official sponsor, AstroTurf®, a company with a long history of supporting professional sports. At this year’s DSRL competition, both teams licked-off for the first time on an official DSRL field, custom-made by AstroTurf®.

Twisting, Licking and Dunking Tradition

The Oreo DSRL is a fun activity that family and friends can enjoy together. The only real “equipment” needed is an Oreo Double Stuf cookie, a single glass of milk and someone to compete against. To start the race, each person twists their cookie open and licks off all the crème. Then, each person shows their cookie to their opponent, dunks it, eats it and drinks the glass of milk. The first to finish twisting, licking and dunking wins!

For more information on the Oreo Double Stuf Racing League and to become an official member of the league, visit www.DSRL.com.


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Shenay Perry Wins USTA Movie Gallery Pro Classic

Shenay Perry

Shenay Perry’s road to recovery from knee surgery in late 2007 took a big step Sunday.

Perry of Coral Springs, Fla., defeated Carly Gullickson of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in Sunday’s USTA Movie Gallery Pro Classic final at Westgate Tennis Center, winning in three sets (4-6, 6-1, 6-3).

The two are close friends and roomed together this week. Perry, who is unseeded, knocked off the eighth-seeded Gullickson for her third straight win over a seeded player. She beat No. 1 Patricia Mayr in the semifinals and No. 7 Angela Haynes in the prior round.

The 24-year-old Perry was ranked No. 40 in the world in 2006, but had right knee surgery in August 2007 and missed a full year of singles play.

In 2006, she was the only American to make the round of 16 at the prestigious Wimbledon tournament.

“It’s great,” Perry said. “It gives me a lot of motivation to know that I can still go out and play at a high level of tennis. I’m pretty happy about that.”

Perry won three doubles titles last year — two with Gullickson — and a 50K singles title in Lawrenceville, Ga., last October.

Her title Sunday was in a tournament with a purse of $75,000. She pocketed $11,400 and 110 ranking points for winning the tournament and Gullickson won $6,080 with 78 ranking points.

But she started off slow, falling 6-4 in the first set as Gullickson won the last three games. Perry dominated the second set with a 6-1 win and didn’t have much trouble in the third with a 6-3 win.

“It was just really tough,” Perry said. “We were both pretty nervous. I don’t think either one of us played our game. I got some opportunities at good times and I think that’s what helped me out.”

Photo by Danny Tindell

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Fed Cup: Amazing Turnaround Puts USA In Final

Black Tennis Pro's 2009 Fed Cup2009 Fed Cup Team (l-r) Melanie Oudin, Alexa Glatch, Liezel Huber, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands

The USA stormed into the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas final with victory over the Czech Republic after doubles pairing Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber came back from match point down to win the fifth and decisive rubber 2-6 7-6(1) 6-1 against Kveta Peschke and Iveta Benesova.

This victory for the USA is a particularly proud moment for team captain Mary-Joe Fernandez who has coached her team to the final of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas in her first year as captain.

“The doubles was a really emotional match, there were so many ups and downs,” she said. What a fight though. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of courage and that’s what Fed Cup’s about. It’s about the team and working together and they found a way to win the match and it’s a thrill to be in the final.”

In the final in November the USA will meet Italy, who won their semifinal tie against Russia this weekend by four rubbers to one. The tie won’t be an easy one for the USA, as the Italians showed their strength defeating the ITF’s number one ranked team in Castellaneta Marina this weekend.

The Italians have won the Fed Cup only once before in 2006 when they defeated Belgium in the final. The Americans by contrast have not won a Fed Cup title since 2000 and Mary-Joe Fernandez is hoping that her team’s cause in November will be helped by the addition of the Williams sisters.

“Venus and Serena are the best players in America and basically the whole world so hopefully they can play. You have to pick your best team so I’ll be calling them and getting them ready.”

Photo by AP

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Jamaica's Dustin Brown: Candids On Tour And With Friends

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Here are some candids from the personal collection of Jamaica's Dustin Brown. Dustin recently shared with me that he is again single ... I'm just sayin'.

For more on Dustin you can visit him at his official site.

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Shenay Perry/Carly Gullickson Match Live Streaming Now!

The Shenay Perry vs. Carly Gullickson championship match at the Movie Gallery Pro Classic in Dothan, Alabama can be seen in live streaming between 1-5 pm today - right now.

Go to WTVY.com and click on the banner shown below.

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Shenay Perry And Donald Young Into USTA Pro Circuit Finals

Americans Shenay Perry and Carly Gullickson

At the Movie Gallery Pro Classic tennis tournament in Dothan, Alabama at the Westgate Tennis Center on Saturday, American Shenay Perry advanced to the event's final when her opponent Austrian Patricia Mayr retired at 6-3, 2-1, Perry leading.

When asked about the win Perry said, “I will take anything , I felt like I was playing pretty good.”

In the other semifinal American Carly Gullickson defeated Russian Evgeniya Rodina 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Gullickson and Perry are good friends and have played together on occasion as doubles partners. The two have played each other in singles competition twice — each winning once.

“Playing each other in the finals would be fun,” Gullickson said before the second semifinal match began.

Sunday's final will be the first championship match of the year for both players.

“I’ve never done well here before,” Perry said. “I always hate to play a friend, but playing against Gullickson will be fun.”

Black Tennis Pro's Donald Young and John Isner Tallahassee Tennis ChallengerAmericans Donald Young and John Isner

At the USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Presented by Comcast at Forestmeadows in Tallahassee, Florida on Saturday, Donald Young, who defeated Robert Kendrick 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the semifinals, met John Isner in the championship match.

The first set went back and forth, with both players holding serve until 5-5. On Young’s serve, Isner was able to capitalize on his second break chance to take the lead 6-5. Young was able to save one set point, but Isner’s serve proved to be too much, as the former Bulldog pulled out the set 7-5.

“Donald had some chances to break me because I started off a little slow,” Isner said. “I was fortunate to get out of some jams on my serve, and that helped me gain momentum. Once I got a look at a break point, I played a pretty good point and converted.”

Young was defeated by the former Georgia Bulldog 7-5, 6-4.

Photos by Getty Images

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NY Times: A Day Out With Serena Williams - Denim Is A Tough Opponent

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams New York Times A Day OutSerena Williams
(Photo by Daniel Barry for The New York Times)

IT’S hard enough for most people to find the perfect pair of jeans, but imagine being Serena Williams. Her muscular 5-foot-9-inch frame is a blessing on the tennis court but a curse in the fitting room, where her curves turn every shopping excursion into an odyssey.

“First I look for the size,” said Ms. Williams, 27, explaining that her posterior was on the large side. She rifled through stacks of denim at a Joe’s Jeans counter at Barneys New York; a salesman handed her a new, slimming cut to try.

“Oh, these are for short girls,” she said wearily, unfurling the pair. “These would be like shorts on me. They would be like a bikini on Venus.” (Her sister, Venus Williams, is 6-foot-1).

That afternoon, Ms. Williams had escaped her busy schedule of training for the French Open and promoting charities to indulge in a shopping jaunt in New York City, accompanied by Nikki Burchiere, her personal assistant. Lunch was a sidewalk-vendor pretzel wolfed on the escalator at Barneys.

Ms. Williams, the reigning United States Open champion, was looking for jeans, yes, but also for inspiration for her new fashion line, Serena Williams Signature Statement, which she said she was active in designing. Her jewelry and handbags, all under $100, will be introduced this month on HSN.

Thumbing through the racks in Rag & Bone, Ms. Williams discussed her latest design theories. “Modern buildings can be really influential — the shape, the structure,” she said, pointing to the sleek, Le Corbusier-like geometry of a gray tunic dress. “I’m not saying this was influenced by a building, but it easily could be, these lines here.”

Fashion has long been a big part of Ms. Williams’s identity, as when she flummoxed tennis traditionalists by showing up for the United States Open in a black Lycra catsuit. Since then she has become a Cher of the tennis court, serving aces in pink hot pants, punky denim, even a studded leather jacket that looked more appropriate for a Judas Priest concert. “I’m a performer,” Ms. Williams said, by way of explanation.

But off court, “you wouldn’t believe how plain I am,” she said, wearing a simple white T-shirt and black leather jacket. “I’m a plain Jane.” (Ms. Burchiere felt compelled to point out that her boss owns more than 300 pairs of shoes.)

Fashion is more than a marketing vehicle for her, she said. It also provides a mental release from tennis, which is a 9-to-9 job for 11 months a year. A lot of her time is spent in hotel rooms watching reality TV and scribbling designs in her ever-present sketch pad, she said.

“I’m a loner on the tour,” Ms. Williams said. “When I was growing up, I idolized Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, and when you get on tour, you see that these people stick to themselves.”

Eventually, Ms. Williams disappeared into a dressing room with a stack of jeans. She emerged minutes later looking defeated. “Nothing fit,” she said, not even the ones with the promising labels that read “booty” and “curvy.”

“I guess I’ll just have to design my own,” she said.

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Conversations: Exclusive With Mashona Washington

Friday, April 24, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Mashona Washington Conversations
This is the first opportunity that I’ve had to talk with WTA Tour player Mashona Washington, it was a genuine pleasure. At 32 years of age, Mashona is currently analyzing and potentially redefining her career as she looks to the future.

Mashona is one of three tennis professionals in her family. Both brothers MaliVai and Mashiska Washington play/have played on the ATP Tour. She was very congenial and open, making this conversation interesting and fun.

One of my priorities in talking with Mashona was to not approach her as the little sister of well known older brother MaliVai Washington’s little sister, but as a person, woman and athlete in her own right. Interestingly enough, she talked about him and her other siblings on her own, portraying a very close knit relationship with each of them and her parents as well.

We talked about a little bit of everything so there’s no need for too much preamble, but I will say that I think you will find her ‘Conversation’ enjoyable, enlightening and a nice read.

Shelia: Hello Mashona, thank you for consenting to do this interview for Black Tennis Pro’s, I appreciate it.

Let’s start with some current issues in tennis, one of the most prominent being the recent resignation of WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott. Do you think that the WTA benefitted during his tenure?
Mashona: Yeah I think so, but it’s hard to speak specifics because I haven’t actually played full time on the tour since I was injured in ‘06, so I really haven’t been able to experience all of the pluses that he has brought to the tour.

After having been injured, you’re missing the tour meetings and while they send newsletters, I haven’t kept up as well as I should because I wasn’t playing that much, so it didn’t affect me. But he has had a lot of positive contributions, I’m sure.

Shelia: One of the things that Scott has talked about with reference to his decision making process to leave, was the rejection of his proposal to merge the two tours. Have you ever given any consideration to their being a single combined tour?
Mashona: I think that would be a great idea because I’ve found that when our tours in general are combined with the men’s events the quality of our tour - our tournament - is automatically raised because we just get a lot of the amenities men get. They get so much more in terms of ... sometimes I think if they came to one of our tournaments and had to deal with some of the things that we did, like with our - maybe amenities - or just some things that we get, they’d be like, 'oh my god!'

You know, they’re really spoiled. We’re still spoiled, but I had two brothers that played on the men’s tour, so I could go with them and see all of the things that they are offered. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a lot of great things that are offered to us.

I think it’s a great idea, it makes tournaments more fun. You don’t have to see the same players all the time, or just women. I think it’s a great thing.

Shelia: I think that’s true for the public, at least it is for me. I always enjoy the combined events much more, of course from a different perspective.
Mashona: Most definitely when both the men and women are seen. And then even if they entertained adding at some of the bigger events a couple of rounds of mixed doubles or something like that; make it like a mini Grand Slam, because they only offer mixed doubles at the Grand Slam tournaments.

Shelia: Now, on another issue that has been making noise recently, the new drug testing rules which dictate that players must inform testers of their whereabouts for a period of one hour of everyday for a period of a week - how hard is that?
Mashona: Well, I haven’t really experienced that. When I was outside the top hundred I thought it was interesting that I was probably drug tested once, maybe twice; but as soon as I was in the top hundred, I was drug tested probably like eight or nine times in one year.

Shelia: Interesting....
Mashona: Now, it could be coincidental, yes. Or it could have just been, as they say ‘random.’

Shelia: That’s pretty random - that’s some interesting random....
Mashona: That’s some very interesting random. And now that I’ve been out of the top hundred, I think in the last couple of years I was drug tested once and that was this year in Memphis. I don’t know, but I think they were drug testing everybody there.

But as far as calling every hour on top of the hour or however much they’re doing, I mean, if that’s what it takes - if somebody’s using something illegal. I guess if you’re not using anything, then it’s a little bit of a pain to have to do that, but if you’re not using then you don’t really mind.

Shelia: It certainly seems a bit restrictive, especially if you’re one who values your privacy.
Mashona: It does kind of, in my opinion, borderline a little bit of ... well, I do appreciate my home time. When I’m at home and sitting on my couch, I don’t want to have to worry about reporting to anybody or answering questions. You should be able to be in the relaxation of your own home.

It’s kind of a difficult situation, like say a regular 9 to 5 job, are they calling people at home to bother them to see what they’re doing or to drug test them ... no, it’s drug testing at work and I kind of think that it should go along those lines. I think it can be pushing it a little bit when you can’t even escape your job to come home and relax.

Shelia: Yeah, it does basically seem as if you’re never off the job under these guidelines.
Mashona: No, you’re not. And is it just because you’re an athlete? You should technically be able to be off the clock when you’re at home.

Shelia: When I read what some of the other players had to say about this new rule I felt for you all, I wouldn’t want to be so subjected.
Mashona: Sometimes it can be the last thing that you want to deal with. When I come off the road - my first three or four days - depending on how long I’m on the road, say six, seven, eight weeks, then the first two or three days - two days for sure - I’m like, in the bed. I don’t take any phone calls, I just want to be a vegetable. I want to just walk my dog in the park and that’s it. I don’t want to do anything.

Like I said, on the other hand, if that’s what it takes, I mean if you don’t have anything to hide, its just the way it is to catch the ones that are doing something.

The only unfortunate part is, you have like one person and it’s like the ‘lucky loser’ rule or the rule for the qualifiers. Because of a past issue, now it’s no longer the highest ranked player who gets in the draw. Now, there’s a draw and anybody who loses can get in.

Shelia: So, there’s no specific criteria within those who have lost during qualifying of who will become a lucky loser?
Mashona: Okay, so you have qualifying, and you have four people that qualify, let’s say it’s a 64/32 player draw, you’re going to have four qualifiers - then each of the four players that lost in the final round of qualifying; then say there’s somebody in the main draw that withdraws, leaving a lucky loser spot, then one of those four can get in - a lucky loser.

So, in essence, it used to be where the highest ranked loser in the final round of qualifying would take that lucky loser spot, but because a couple of players on the men’s tour, they kind of did the math and they were saying ‘hey, I already know I’m going to get in and if you want to get in too, give me a little bit of your prize money and we can call it a day. I’ll throw the match so you can get in, I already know I’m going to get in....’ And so they would kind of cheat a little bit - get people in and get a little extra money.

So they changed the rule that if you lose in the final round of qualifying, then it’s pure luck of the draw. They take the four that lost and pull their names out of a hat. I don’t really think it’s that fair - you’re the highest ranked player, you should get in. They do that on the ITF and USTA events, they’re not doing that on the tour. Well, I think they did that at Wimbledon last year, maybe they’re using it at their discretion. I just don’t think that it’s very fair.

It happened to me when I thought I was going to get in because I was the highest ranked player, they were like, ‘the rule has changed, and I was like, what? I was crushed, I couldn’t believe it.

Shelia: I’m sure. That could really cause animosity among some players.
Mashona: Yes, there were some players that could not believe it, they were just livid.

Shelia: Let’s switch gears and talk about you and tennis, when you began playing, when you knew that this was something that you could do well and when you knew that this could be a career for you.
Mashona: (laughing) I still don’t know if this is a career for me. When did I start playing ... I started playing initially just because I had my older brothers and sisters that played and it was just kind of a natural thing because we all went to the courts and I started playing and playing and I got better and began entering junior tennis tournaments. And I started winning because I was practicing all the time and I started getting the trophies and was like wow I really love the trophies. I got to travel to national tournaments and they were in Boca Raton or Miami, Florida. Growing up in Michigan it was awesome to go to Boca in the summertime.

That was one of the things that my dad told me ... I remember that my older brothers and sisters would travel to tournaments and I’d be like, I want to go, I want to go. And my dad would say “well the only way you can go is to start playing tennis.” I started playing from then on, so he kind of tricked me.

I don’t know exactly at what point I made that transition, I just think that I was playing pretty well in juniors and I just decided to give it a whirl. I enjoyed the travel and I enjoyed working hard, so I just decided to give it a go.

Shelia: How many siblings do you have?
Mashona: I have two older brothers and two older sisters.

Shelia: Do all of them play tennis?
Mashona: At one time, yes.

Shelia: Wow, that must have been a daunting proposition, you being the youngest; or did it make it more fun?
Mashona: Well it was fine because by the time I was really playing seriously/competitively, actually my oldest sister had stopped playing at that point. Mal was still playing, he was in college and in the early years of his professional career, so he was already off and gone; I had a middle sister who had health issues, so she wasn’t able to continue to play; so then it was just my brother who is a year-and-a-half older than I am, Mashiska, so we practiced a lot together; and every now and then we’d practice with Mal.

We were far apart ... I remember one tournament, it was actually the U.S. Open, I was playing playing qualifying and my brother Mal was playing out in Long Island when they had the Long Island Tournament and my dad was driving back and forth. I can remember a few times that he had to do that.

Shelia: So your dad was coaching all of you?
Mashona: No, Mal had his coach; at that particular tournament he just happened to be driving back and forth all over New York to see us play.

Shelia: Did your dad or your mom play? How did the family become so tennis oriented?
Mashona: No, my dad just kind of picked up the game and my mom never played tennis. My dad learned just by watching, reading and trial and error.

Shelia: Well it obviously worked. Tell me about World Team Tennis, I believe I saw that you were playing again for the Washington Kastles.
Mashona: No, I’m not playing this year.

Shelia: You’re not playing this year - Did you enjoy your previous experience?
Mashona: I did enjoy it, it was such a team atmosphere and it was great to have your teammates to rely on, and the crowds were great. And I was fortunate enough when I played for Houston and Washington to have really good owners of the teams and they really took care of us. Well, in Houston I was at home so I loved being five minutes away from the club. In Washington last year owner Mark Ein did an amazing job and I think that he’ll probably even step it up a notch. Not everybody is going to do exactly what he did, how he took care of us and he ran the team; I think a lot of the teams can step up a little bit more.

One of the things that I enjoy when watching World Team Tennis is that everybody appears to be having so much more fun than on regular tour tournaments.
Mashona: Yeah ... it’s different, a different kind of pressure; you have your teammates that you don’t want to let down, you don’t want to let your fans down because it’s more than when you’re playing individually or with your doubles partner.

It’s a great atmosphere and a great opportunity, I wish that I had done it earlier. I always tell a lot of players ‘enter your name into the draft and see what happens.’ I think everybody should play at least one, maybe two seasons. Although, it’s definitely not for everybody, because as much as I enjoy team tennis, I always find that my game afterwards is not as high as it could be because you don’t get a chance to practice, you’re traveling so much that you don’t have an opportunity to work on your game, so my game suffers a little bit; but I like the team atmosphere and the money is good.

Shelia: So how are the teams put together? Since it’s private ownership I assumed that the owners approached players they were interested in and made a deal.
Mashona: No, they have a draft; I think this year it was March 31. I’m assuming that all of the owners come down to Miami and pick the players that they want to play for them for that season. It’s literally a draft, you have first, second, third and fourth round picks; they can protect their past players, wipe everything out and start over, they can trade players - it’s a regular draft.

Shelia: Well I learned something new today, I had no idea. I really thought the owner just picked whoever they wanted.
Mashona: They pretty much do, the owners have all the say if they want. They talk to whomever their coach is and make their decision. I know one particular team owner who picks a team based on the attitude and how he thinks the teammates can get along together.

Shelia: If I had to spend the summer with a group of people, I can definitely see the value in that.
Mashona: Yeah, because you’re spending a month with these people, you definitely want to get along with them.

Do you plan to play tournaments this summer?
Mashona: Yeah, that was my plan. I’m currently 313 singles, 115 doubles and you’re actually sacrificing a month of tennis when you play team tennis. It’s great if you can afford to do it, ranking wise, because you sacrifice playing three to four tournaments that month. I’m not necessarily getting any help wildcard wise, I’m too old, I guess in their eyes (laughing); so I’m just going to spend the summer in Europe. I’m going to slide around on the clay for four weeks and hopefully I can have a good two or three weeks and move up my ranking.

Shelia: If there’s anything I envy you all, it’s definitely not the exercise or all of the work that you put in, it’s the travel - wonderful.
Mashona: It is, you travel so much. I was at a women’s doubles luncheon in Charleston talking with Jill Craybas, my doubles partner there, Lisa Raymond and Kveta Peschke, and our lives as tennis players are typical - they aren’t normal - but for tennis players they’re normal. Jill was saying, and I totally feel the same way, “when I’ve traveled a long time on the road and you get home, then you’re like, okay I’m home for this two or three days, then once you sleep and you get your rest caught up then start practicing for four or five days a week; then you’re like okay, I need to get on the road again, why am I sitting at home; I’ve been at home for two weeks, what’s wrong with me.” And Jill is one of those players that plays a lot of tournaments a year, she’s in great shape too.

For me, I’m usually three or four weeks on, a week or two off cause I always find value in resting; I’ve always been that way.

Shelia: Yes, with regard to Jill, I see her name in the draws a lot. I often wonder about that with some of the players, do these people ever rest!
Mashona: Sometimes they do the numbers, sometimes if you have to play X amount of tournaments, you can do the math and keep your ranking at a certain level. I’m not one to do math and numbers and all of that; maybe that’s what I need to do, I just play.

Tell me about your longevity in tennis, do you have a planned timeline or do you think that the remainder of your time in tennis will work itself out.
Mashona: Yeah, I think it’ll work itself out for the most part; but I also realize ... I’m realistic and I think my emphasis has changed. I still enjoy playing singles, I still enjoy getting out there and one of my goals and challenges to myself is to get back into the top hundred. A lot of people say that being ... what am I now, how old am I now ... 32? A lot of people my age are getting older, but hey - I can still run down the same balls just as well, if not better; but like I said, I’m being realistic - my focus is changing to a lot of doubles. And if I’m turning into a doubles player, that’s fine with me, because I know I can make a heck of a lot more money playing doubles than I would in anything else.

Shelia: 9 to 5s paying that kind of money aren’t easy to come by.
Mashona: Yeah, and I’d have to go back to school and get another degree. For example - and this is an exception - Rennae Stubbs, she’s a little bit older, but she’s still out there, she’s top ten. I’ve yet to be top ten in doubles, but she’s showing you right there and she’s making a great living at it.

I still have the ability, I still have the drive, and until the day that I get up and I say ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ then that’s when I’m going to stop. I’m not going to let any federation or whoever, the naysayers ... Believe it or not, actually I was at a tournament this year and the coach of another player asked me - actually it was kind of funny - he asked me, “why are you still playing?” and I said well, what do you mean? He said “well, you’re not that young.” I said well am I old, I’m 32 ... since when was 32 old? First of all I love it, second of all I can, and third of all I don’t want to have to get a real job until I have to.

Shelia: That was a bold and interesting question to ask anyone, especially if they’re still out there competing.
Mashona: I don’t know, I think maybe he had dreams of playing and things didn’t work out - I don’t know, it was just the way he asked me. On the other hand, you have other people and run into other players who say ‘if you love it, play.’

It’s such a physically demanding game, but so much more of what can be done for the body is better.
Mashona: Oh yes, from sports drinks to recovery drinks, I drink recovery drinks. I went onsite the other day and ordered some. It’s like the new thing to help relax your muscles and get you going in spirit. I’m real, real big on eating the right foods to give you the optimum energy and even brain power you know? You need that out there on the court. And I think that has a lot to do with my longevity ... I drink tons of water.

Shelia: Well the water is working on your skin. From all of the photos that I’ve seen, you have great skin.
Mashona: That’s genetics! That’s something my mom and dad have.

Shelia: Tell me something about you that we, the viewing audience and tennis fans, don’t know.
Mashona: I am a big, big family person. I talk to my sisters probably everyday, it doesn’t matter where I am in the world. My brothers are the same way. Mal will never tell you this, cause he always tells me that he’s tired of talking to me, but if I don’t call him for like, two or three days he’s like “Why haven’t you called me ...? What, you can’t call a brother?”

I’m very, very close to my family and I love the holidays. I love spending time with my extended family, my cousins and their families. Hopefully one day I’ll get married and have kids too. I’m just really big about my family and close friends. Those are the people that mean the most to me; it’s the old saying, ‘you mess with my family, you mess with me.’ Those are the ones that I really count on, when you’re up, when you’re down ... I just love being with my family and hanging out.

Shelia: Okay, we’re winding down, let’s get some fun facts about you. What do you enjoy doing during your down time? I know that you said you like to chill and get some rest, after that’s accomplished, what do you like to do?
Mashona: Well, I have a Mini Schnauzer named Colby, as you know ...

Shelia: Oh she is soooo cute!
Mashona: We go into the dog park and I always take her to the water because she never wants to go into the water and I’m trying to get her to swim. I really enjoy doing things with her, she’s like my little daughter - I enjoy her having a good time at the park for hours and hours with the other dogs.

Shelia: How old is she?
Mashona: Colby will be two in July.

Shelia: Still really young ...
Mashona: Yes. I wish I could travel with her a little bit more but the airlines have gotten ridiculous with the price of travel, now I can’t really travel with her as much as I would have.

I actually enjoy cooking even though I really don’t have anybody to cook for. When I go to Mal’s house I cook all the time because they don’t really cook there, they eat out a lot. I actually want to take cooking classes one day just to improve. My sisters and my mom cook unbelievably and I’m just, kind of like dragging up the rear here.

I also love football, I love the Texans; there’s the rodeo as well, I always enjoy that. I just try to keep things fun. I also like to go the spa and spend the whole day there doing the whole mani-pedi thing, part of my relaxation.

What are your favorite foods?
Mashona: Well, my mom makes this dish, and this is the only time my mom ever cooks, because after raising five kids my mom just doesn’t ever cook. My mom is so humble and sweet, but she always finds a way to say, “ahhhh, why don’t we just go out and get something?” But she makes this turkey, gravy and rice dish, it’s really good. I love lasagna, I make a really good lasagna and I love a good steak. One of my favorite restaurants in Houston is Pappas, they serve a really good steak.

I have famous chocolate chip cookies that only a handful, maybe a couple of players have ever tasted - it’s my own recipe.

Shelia: I didn’t get the baking gene, I can cook very well, but I pretty much crucify anything needing to be baked.
Mashona: It’s all about patience. And once you eat my chocolate chip cookies, then there’s like no other chocolate chip cookie that tastes the same - I’m just going to say that. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but that’s what I’ve been told.

Shelia: I wouldn’t be one to know because I absolutely detest chocolate.

Tell me which is your favorite book, and what you’re reading right now.
Mashona: My favorite book is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I’m currently reading And The Shofar Blew also by Francine Rivers; I just bought this book when I was in Charleston so I haven’t really got into it yet.

Her Redeeming Love, I really enjoyed that book. It was about unconditional love, forgiving and whatever you believe in.

Shelia: Your favorite current and classic movie?
Mashona: My favorite classic movie is Lean On Me; current movie is Facing The Giants.

Shelia: Your favorite type of music?
Mashona: R&B

Shelia: Your favorite current and classic R&B artists?
Mashona: Let’s see, what’s on my Ipod. Well, I don’t know if Sade would be considered classic, but she’s been around for awhile. Current, I like Robin Thicke among other artists.

Shelia: What are you currently listening to on your Ipod?
Mashona: When I was in the gym today I was listening to Mike Jones. He’s in my workout music along with Shakira, L.L. Cool J, Beyonce, Janet Jackson.

Shelia: Favorite video/computer game?
Mashona: For awhile I was playing on Facebook, Word Challenge and Geo Challenge. I don’t know how Lindsay Davenport got like 60,000 points, cause I can’t get over 12,000. I asked her, I said Linday how did you do that? She said, “One day I put Jagger down to sleep for two hours, and I’ve been doing word scramble games all my life.” I said oh, okay, that explains it.

I’m trying to get back into my studying mode, last October I got my degree in business administration and I was a bit burned out from that; then I was going to go straight to get my real estate license, but I’m still burned out ... I just couldn’t study anymore. Playing and studying is really difficult ... not difficult, but just a challenge because I wanted to maintain and get my grades in.

Mal is in real estate and I gained an interest from him because I’m always going around to the different properties that he manages and owns and getting that first hand/hands on from him. He actually was helping me quite a bit, so now I’ll be able to make that transition whenever. Even in playing I can still do some real estate, that’s my plan.

I’m veering from the video games and trying to get back into studying so that I can be productive again in life (laughing).

Shelia: It is so unfortunate how addicting, whether it be video, computer or internet games can be. You really have to make yourself get up and get away from the computer.
Mashona: Yeah, you do. I think it’s just maybe human nature how you want to better your last score ... one more, okay one more, okay one more; and before long you’ve been on there for two hours and you’re like, what in the world did I just spend two hours for.

On the other hand Facebook, it’s been an amazing thing because I’ve actually gotten in touch with friends, so I love it in one sense. I actually haven’t gotten on as much lately, I go on like once a day now; but tennis fans and friends can stay in touch, they can see where I am and I post a lot of pictures, they can see what I’m doing. I could not believe that I’ve actually gotten in touch with people from kindergarten.

Shelia: What’s your favorite sport outside of tennis?
Mashona: Oh my gosh, that’s so hard; I like anything with competition. When I’m watching the Olympics I’m glued to everything. I love sports.

Shelia: Your favorite vacation spot?
Mashona: My couch (laughing) - I was actually talking to Mal, and I was like come on Mal, we have to go on a vacation somewhere. He’s like “who...” I said you, me, Jen (my sister-in-law), let’s just go, he says “Plan it.”

I don’t have a favorite vacation spot because I don’t ever have anybody to go with. I have my friends in Houston but their schedules are so off and different, it just never works out. I’d love to go to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, a couple of places in Mexico; there’s a handful of states that I haven’t been to.

Shelia: Which of the grand slam tournaments is your favorite?
Mashona: U.S. Open then Wimbledon, French and Australia

Shelia: What has been your favorite place in all of your travels?
Mashona: I like Quebec City in Canada, Old Quebec because of the ambiance. It’s very old and has a stone wall that surrounds the entire City, cobblestone streets and it’s always so cold when you go there; you can walk off of the streets into the restaurants and it’s very French and quaint.

On the other side of the world Tokyo, because I love sushi.

Shelia: Finally, your favorite place to be overall?
Mashona: Probably on my couch at home.

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EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis Final Player Roster

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Serena Williams EA SPORTS Grand Slam TennisIt's less than 2 months until EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis (Wii version) ships to North American retailers.

Here is the complete roster of legends and stars that will be featured in the game:


John McEnroe (USA) - Exclusive to EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis, Johnny Mac is arguably the most recognizable tennis figure in the world. Winner of seven Grand Slam titles, including three Wimbledon titles, he has hosted his own talk show and published an autobiography which was a NY Times #1 best-seller and a London Times #1 best-seller. He remains heavily involved in tennis as a commentator for the Grand Slams and a player on seniors tennis tours. This is the only video game in which you can play as vintage McEnroe from his glory years with the sweatband and signature 1980s big hair.

Bjorn Borg (SWE)
– For the first time in a video game, replay the classic 1980 Wimbledon final with Borg and McEnroe. Perhaps no player was able to dominate the French Open and Wimbledon simultaneously like the stoic Swede. From 1974 to 1981, Borg ruled Roland Garros with six straight championships. During the same time he also claimed five straight Wimbledon titles, culminating with the epic 1980 final.

Pete Sampras (USA)
– Replicate Pistol Pete’s serve in Grand Slam Tennis, the very serve he used to make Wimbledon his personal playground during the 90s, winning 7 titles in all. No man in tennis history has won more Grand Slam titles than Sampras, who owns the all-time record with 14. In all he retired with 64 total titles and raked in a staggering $43.3-million in prize money.

Stefan Edberg (SWE)
– Can you embody class and grace in Grand Slam Tennis like Stefan Edberg did? He treated fans to six Grand Slam titles and ascended to number one in the world in August 1990, becoming one of the only players to hold the number one ranking in both singles and doubles. Edberg retired in 1996 with 42 total titles.

Boris Becker (GER)
– Check out Becker in the game with his classic serve & volley game and signature dives at Wimbledon. “Boom Boom” exploded to tennis prominence with his stunning Wimbledon victory in 1985 as an unseeded 17-year old. Becker successfully defended his title the next year and quickly became a household name.

Current Stars

Venus Williams, USA

Serena Williams, USA

Rafael Nadal (ESP)
– Fist pump your way to French Open dominance just like current world number one Nadal. He broke through at the French Open, winning four straight titles since 2005. But he has also taken his success to Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Last year he cemented his position in tennis history winning Olympic gold in Beijing.

Andy Roddick (USA)
– If you’ve got a wicked forehand and devastating serve, play as Roddick in Grand Slam Tennis. Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open and finished the year number one in the world. Since his breakthrough win, he made two Wimbledon finals and returned to the U.S. Open finals in 2006.

Novak Djokovic (SRB)
– Dangerous on all surfaces, Djokovic is a perfect addition to the player line-up for Grand Slam Tennis. Just like on the ATP World Tour, he’ll be eager to mix up with Federer, Nadal and the other top guys. Djokovic became the first Serbian player to win a Grand Slam title and he did it at the age of just 20.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
– Not just one of the rising stars in the sport with a huge game, Tsonga is a character with an exuberant personality. Last year he broke through with a finals appearance at the Australian Open.

Serena Williams (USA)
– The ladies are headlined by Serena Williams, who appears on the North American cover along with McEnroe and Federer. Serena becomes the first woman to appear on the cover of an EA SPORTS simulation product. With a solid all-around game and a personality and style all her own, she’ll be a popular figure in this game for the women and men.

Maria Sharapova (RUS)
– Grand Slam Tennis won’t be short in style and personality with Maria Sharapova also representing the women in this game. The Russian is 3-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one.

Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Compatriot Novak Djokovic isn’t the only Serbian star featured in Grand Slam Tennis. Last year Ivanovic won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open and rose to number one in the world.

Andy Murray (GBR) – With Federer, Nadal and Djokovic already confirmed for Grand Slam Tennis, we round out the current “Big 4” with rising star Andy Murray. With a game that exclusively features Wimbledon, Murray is an ideal fit as he’s sure to electrify the home crowds.

Chris Evert (USA)
– America’s tennis darling in the 70s and 80s is another headlining legend in Grand Slam Tennis. Would you take up the challenge to replicate her mind-boggling 125 match winning streak on clay? It spanned almost 6 years from 1973 to 1979. Evert retired in 1989 with 18 Grand Slam titles.

Martina Navratilova (USA)
– Replay a classic tennis rivalry with Navratilova versus Evert. The two met 77 times in their careers, making up one of the most epic rivalries in tennis history. Navratilova retired from singles competition in 1994 but played doubles into her 50s! Like Evert, she holds 18 Grand Slam titles and a record nine from Wimbledon.

Pat Cash (AUS)
– The Aussie who made the checkered sweatband famous is pulling double duty in Grand Slam Tennis, appearing as not just a player but as a commentator as well. Now you can relive Cash’s Wimbledon triumph from 1987 in the game.

Justine Henin (BEL)
– One of the greatest player of her generation retired early and still in her prime but you can play as or against the Belgian in Grand Slam Tennis. Dominate at Roland Garros just as Henin did, winning four straight titles on the clay in Paris.

Michael Stich (GER)
– The late 80s and early 90s were a great time for German tennis and part of that was thanks to 1991 Wimbledon champion Michael Stich. Perhaps he is best known for teaming up with John McEnroe and winning the 1992 Wimbledon doubles title in a marathon 5-set match that lasted five hours.

Lindsay Davenport (USA) – Can you strike the ball as crisply and cleanly as 3-time Grand Slam champion Davenport? Known as one of the best and purest ball strikers in tennis history, the American, finished number one in the world for four years and earned more than $22-million in prize money.

Kei Nishikori (JPN) – The teenager Nishikori has celebrity status in Japan and has already been touted as a future top-5 player by Radael Nadal. Last year he received the "Newcomer of the Year" award, which was voted on by all the players on the ATP Tour.

Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) – Play as the fiery Aussie and fist pump your way to a Wimbledon and U.S. Open title as Hewitt did. If the competitive, counter punching style appeals to you, the former world number one is in-game pro for you.

Venus Williams (USA) – Can you dominate on the grass of Centre Court like 5-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams? She joins her sister Serena in the all-star player line-up for EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis. Venus has also won a pair of U.S. Open titles.
There you have it; 23 players that make up the roster for EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis. With a combined 135 Grand Slam titles and 50 Wimbledon titles, this just may be the greatest and most accomplished group of players for any tennis videogame.

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Prize Money Still Good At Wimbledon, Better If You're Not From The U.S.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal 2008 Wimbledon Champions2008 Wimbledon Champions Rafael Nadal, ESP and Venus Williams, USA

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — The Wimbledon champions are getting a big increase in prize money this year, at least when it comes to the British pound.

The prize for each of the men's and women's champions went up by 13.3 percent to $1.24 million, organizers said Tuesday, but the pound's weak exchange rate means that translates to a reduction in dollars of 17 percent from last year's $1.49 million.

Buoyed by a new television contract in Asia and the extension of its commercial agreement with IBM, the tournament has also raised the total prize fund for the June 22-July 5 tournament by 6.2 percent to $18.38 million.

But that still compares unfavorably to last year's $23.46 million despite the increase being nearly double the 3.4 percent hike the All England Club managed 12 months ago.

All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the event was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates and maintain the prestige among players of the only grass-court Grand Slam.

"Most of the players here don't bank in sterling," Phillips said. "We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound."

The pound has dropped by more than 25 percent against the dollar since last year's prize money was announced, and has slumped by about 11 percent against the euro. On Tuesday, the exchange rate was $1.45 to 1 pound.

The All England Club also announced a five-year extension of its sponsorship with IBM, which advises on and helps implement new technologies at the event, and said that it had signed a new broadcast deal with Star Sports Asia.

"In this climate, it's a vote of confidence in Wimbledon," All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said. "In the current climate, it would be foolish for anyone to be complacent, but we feel the strength of the brand is coming through and commercial opportunities continuing unabated."

This year's tournament will feature the unveiling of a sliding roof over Centre Court.

Ritchie said the tournament was in good financial health despite the global economic crisis, pointing out that the All England Club had received 20 percent more ticket applications than in 2008.

Photo by Getty Images

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