Serena Wins Fourth US Open

Serena Williams collapsed to the tennis court and then jumped for joy after she won her fourth US Open of her career yesterday. The 15th Grand Slam victory of her career wasn’t as easy as it seemed at the beginning, and Williams was actually two points away from losing her second-straight US Open final.

Serena dominated the first set of the matchup, winning 6-2, and breaking the serve of her opponent, 23-year old Victoria Azarenka, ranked #1 in the world, three times. It appeared that the 30-year old Williams would win the final easily, without losing a set to any opponent, something she also accomplished in 2002 on her way to the US Open title. But Azarenka stormed back to take the second set 6-2, to create the first US Open Women’s final to go to a third set in 17 years.

Williams and Azarenka traded breaks in the third and final set, and Azarenka was in control, up 5-3 and a break. At 30-30, Williams took over, holding serve, then breaking Azarenka to tie the set at five, then held serve again before converting a final break that crowned her the champion.

Serena talked about her opponent being two points away from handing her defeat after the match. “At 30-all I figured I could serve out and just make her serve for it…after that, I thought I could just force another game and obviously never give up. I never, never quit. I have come back so many times in so many matches.”

With her win, Williams becomes the first woman ever to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades. “That’s kinda cool” she responded, when asked about the accomplishment. Serena praised the play of her opponent. “You can tell by the score line that she really worked hard and she pushed me.”

Azarenka also had positive things to say about Williams. “She never gives up…she’s definitely the toughest player mentally there is. She continued, with an upbeat attitude. “I have to be positive, you know, because I feel like these kind of matches, every time I play Serena, it really pushes (me) to be better, to improve, to move forward. I have to be thankful to her for that.”

There were numerous entertainers in the star-studded crowd of 23,771, including tennis legends Billie Jean King and Boris Becker, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Mets pitcher RA Dickey, actors Will Ferrell, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Judd Hirsch, and James Caviezel, actresses Jennifer Connelly, Minka Kelly,and Vivica Fox, musicians Redfoo of LMFAO and Mandy Moore, supermodel Tyra Banks, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Serena Williams Steamrolls the Competition

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Serena Williams has been playing some of the best tennis of her career over the last three months. Williams won Wimbledon in July and a few weeks later won the gold medal in Women’s Singles at the 2012 London Olympics. She also added Women’s Double’s gold with her older sister Venus. Next up for Serena was the US Open.

Through the first four rounds of the 2012 US Open, Williams has defeated Coco Vandeweghe, 6-1, 6-1, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 6-2, 6-4, Ekaterina Makarova, 6-4, 6-0, and Andrea Hlavackova, 6-0, 6-0. Serena has won an incredible 20 straight games, and is the favorite going into the round of eight.

When asked what her play through the first four rounds means, Serena responded “it says I’m focused.” Serena, always critical of her game, said “I feel like today I am getting more comfortable with the court and comfortable with the conditions…I like to play better during the second week.” Fitting, because the best players are the only ones playing in the second week and Serena is not only one of the best of this era, but of all time.

Not everything has gone perfect for Serena, as she and older sister Venus were defeated Monday night in Doubles by Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. Venus also lost in the second round to Angelique Kerber in front of a boisterous crowd that included actress Vivica Fox. With the singles and doubles losses, Venus Williams is now done for the 2012 US Open, but don’t be surprised if she hangs around to see her younger sister play.

Serena, who is 30-years old, and Sloane Stephens, 19, who has been compared to Serena on the court, have forged a friendship recently that is somewhat of a mentor/mentee relationship. But you would be surprised at who plays what role. “I think she’s more my mentor than anything,” Williams said in an interview after her win over Vandeweghe in the first round. Serena had some more compliments of Stephens on and off the court. “I think she’s an amazing player. She’s playing so smooth. She looks like she gives no effort when she plays.”

Serena continued to talk about Sloane’s on-court performance, adding “I hope I can teach her some things, and hopefully she’s able to do it. I think that we can kind of feed off each other. She can teach me some things, maybe how to be calm on the court.”

Off the court, Serena had even more praise. “I think she’s a great person. She’s always encouraging me not to be single,” Serena said with a smile. Williams was later asked if she thinks Sloane has the potential to be the next superstar on and off the tennis court. “I think she has a great smile, a beautiful face. I think she has such a wonderful personality and attitude. So yeah, I think it’s totally possible.”

Earlier in the day, after her first-round, upset win over Francesca Schiavone, Stephens was asked some questions about Serena as well. “We’re really good friends. We just have a really good relationship. I felt like I knew her in a past life or something, I don’t know. It’s so strange” Sloane said.

One thing that makes Serena Williams so great is her confidence. When asked if she believes in her heart if she is the best player in the game, she responded “Of course I believe that. I think there are a number of players on this tour, a few players who believe that. I don’t think we would be playing if we didn’t believe that.”

Perhaps some of Serena’s confidence has rubbed off on Sloane. When asked if Sloane Stephens will be to be the next superstar in tennis, she simply, and confidently, replied “She is.” With a winning smile, a great personality and confidence to match, many are hoping that Sloane Stephens is the next superstar in the tennis world, and with a mentor like Serena Williams, she is well on her way.

Serena Williams will face Ana Ivanovic Wednesday (rain permitting) for a chance to go to the semifinals of the US Open Wednesday. Ivanovic defeated Stephens in the third round for the second year in a row, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, and Stephens will definitely be cheering her mentor on.

With Sugarpova, Maria Sharapova Looks to Sweeten the World of Candy

Throughout her tennis career, the 25-year old Maria Sharapova has not been sweet to her opponents, winning four Grand Slam titles, including the 2012 French Open. But Sharapova is looking to be a lot sweeter to many, as she launches Sugarpova, a premium candy line that reflects her fun, fashionable, sweet side.

I had a chance to ask Maria about Sugarpova and how it began. “I can’t take credit for coming up with the name. I was having a meeting with my manager who had met with Jeff Rubin, who is pretty influential in the candy business, and they had started talking about it. Originally, it was something I was going to be a part of, then I thought…I really want to own this”, Maria said. “I guess I can say it started because I have been part of so many little things in my career, been a part of collaborations and collections. It came to a point where I really wanted to invest my own money into something, make all final decisions” Sharapova continued.

Sugarpova offers a bit of luxury, and aims to interpret classic candies in her own signature style. She hopes to bring a new level of quality to the candy world through fun, unexpected types, shapes and names. Some of the names include Smitten Sour, Flirty, and Cheeky.

Sugarpova is already off to a good start, as Sharapova mentioned that the candies are sold out. What should people expect from the brand in the future? “I do hope it goes into chocolate and caramels and all that, but for my body I really hope not” she said with laughter. Sharapova has enjoyed the sweet taste of success on the court, and, with Sugarpova, off the court as well.

Sloane and Serena Become Friends

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Serena Williams, one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, who is 30-years old, and Sloane Stephens, a 19-year old emerging star who has been compared to Serena on the court, have forged a friendship recently that is somewhat of a mentor/mentee relationship.

But you would be surprised at who plays what role. “I think she’s more my mentor than anything,” Williams said in an interview after her win over Coco Vandeweghe in the first round of the 2012 US Open. Serena had some more compliments of Stephens on and off the court. “I think she’s an amazing player. She’s playing so smooth. She looks like she gives no effort when she plays.”

Serena continued to talk about Sloane’s on-court performance, adding “I hope I can teach her some things, and hopefully she’s able to do it. I think that we can kind of feed off each other. She can teach me some things, maybe how to be calm on the court.”

Off the court, Serena had even more praise. “I think she’s a great person. She’s always encouraging me not to be single,” Serena said with a smile. Williams was later asked if she thinks Sloane has the potential to be the next superstar on and off the tennis court. “I think she has a great smile, a beautiful face. I think she has such a wonderful personality and attitude. So yeah, I think it’s totally possible.”

Earlier in the day, after her upset win over Francesca Schiavone, Stephens was asked some questions about Serena as well. “We’re really good friends. We just have a really good relationship. I felt like I knew her in a past life or something, I don’t know. It’s so strange” Sloane said.

One thing that makes Serena Williams so great is her confidence. When asked if she believes in her heart if she is the best player in the game, she responded “Of course I believe that. I think there are a number of players on this tour, a few players who believe that. I don’t think we would be playing if we didn’t believe that.”

Perhaps some of Serena’s confidence has rubbed off on Sloane. When asked if Sloane Stephens will be to be the next superstar in tennis, she simply, and confidently, replied “She is.” With a winning smile, a great personality and confidence to match, many are hoping that Sloane Stephens is the next superstar in the tennis world, and with a mentor like Serena Williams, she is well on her way.

Andy Roddick Discusses His Retirement

Flushing Meadows, NY – Andy Roddick shocked tennis fans, players, and media alike with his announcement of his retirement after the 2012 US Open yesterday evening. Here are some comments he made last night at his press conference announcing his retirement.

When Roddick was asked, why now, he responded “I just feel like it’s time. I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.”

Roddick also talked about his ability and desire to compete. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been someone who’s interested in existing on tour. I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me. I’m looking forward to those.” He continued, “I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway. Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home. I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not.”

Some in the tennis world thought Roddick took extra time saying good bye at a Grand Slam tournament earlier this year. “On some big moments this year, I think I’ve known. You know, walking off at Wimbledon, I felt like I knew,” he said.

When asked if he made the decision on that day to give fans a chance to say good bye, Roddick responded “those are good reasons. I think I wanted an opportunity to say good bye to people, as well. I don’t know how tomorrow’s going to go. I hope it goes well and I hope I’m sticking around. I just imagine being off the court tomorrow in an empty locker room. I think I wanted a chance to say good bye.”

When asked what he is most proud of looking back on his career, Andy responded “you know, I was pretty good for a long time. The reason I gave earlier about not feeling like I could be committed to this thing a hundred percent, that’s one of the things I’m proud of. That for 13 or 14 years, I was invested fully, every day.”

When asked about being the face of American Men’s tennis for so long, Roddick said “it’s been a pleasure. It’s not something that’s easy every day, for sure, especially when you get kind of anointed at a young age, 17, 18.”

Finally, Roddick talked about playing at Arthur Ashe Stadium for night matches. “I mean, it’s the most electric atmosphere in our sport,” he said, referencing the 23,000-seat arena that is the biggest in the sport. “There’s something about it. There’s a lot of eyeballs on TV sets from people who don’t even normally watch tennis during night matches of the US Open. I think I’ve played as many as anyone. Again, it’s just something I’ll look back on with really fond memories. Hopefully won’t be my last one,” he said. Many in the tennis world hope that tonight isn’t his final match on the court as well when he takes on Bernard Tomic.