Shenzhen WTA Finals add Shiseido

The newly relocated WTA Tour Finals will now be called the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, after the Japanese beauty company signed on as the title sponsor.

The event has confirmed the total prize money will be $14 million. The singles champion, if undefeated, would take home $4.725 million and the doubles champions, if undefeated, would share $1 million.

Shiseido, founded in Japan in 1872, has 46,000 employees around the world.

The slogan for the tournament will be “Sparks will Fly”, “to represent the energy, passion and excellence ignited by the very best in women’s tennis on the sport’s biggest stage.”

No respect for Karolina Muchova

The lack of respect for 22-year-old Karolina Muchova, who upset No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova and reached the quarterfinals at her first Wimbledon, is unfortunate.

Muchova is No. 68, and will be at a career-high No. 43 Monday. She went from the qualies to the final in Prague, among other results this year.

And even as she reached the second week, the WTA website still hasn’t updated her information – nor has the Lausanne tournament next week.

And yet, the WTA was able to provide a “glamour” shot to Lausanne of … No. 100 Fiona Ferro.

(They could have asked the ITF – or Tennis.Life).

The Maleevas still tennising

Perhaps the most prolific tennis family ever, the Maleeva sisters still are in the game.

Youngest sister Maggie, now 44 (career high No. 4) is playing the legends at Wimbledon.

She’s the co-founder of an organic food company in Bulgaria.

Big sister Manuela, 52 (No. 3) who retired in 1994, lives in Switzerland. Middle sister Katerina got to No. 6.

This week, Manuela is hosting Genie Bouchard as “a bit of a coach, a bit of a sparring partner” for a few days. Bouchard is friends with Maleeva’s two daughters. 

All three Maleevas were seeded for three Slams in 1993, which is nuts.

WTA injuries decimate Rome event

In addition the players who withdrew pre-tournament, the WTA side of the Rome event has been decimated by pullouts – in part because of the double-up schedule forced by Wednesday’s rainout.

Naomi Osaka woke up with a thumb problem Friday and gave Kiki Bertens a walkover. Serena Williams won her first match and pulled out with a left knee injury before she was to play sister Venus.

Alizé Cornet (right adductor), Jelena Ostapenko (virus, slight fever), Garbiñe Muguruza and Julia Goerges (right adductors) and Petra Kvitova (left leg) retired mid-match. 

Even considering normal pre-Slam caution, it’s a lot.

“Studying Sharapova” a fab elective

The University of Santa Barbara currently has a course called “Picturing Maria Sharapova”.

It’s taught by the fabulous Anita Stahl, a doctoral student in feminist studies.

Stahl says it’s not really about Sharapova. She’s the vehicle through which to study “gender, femininity, globalization, labor, immigration, history, race, and media, according to a WTA story, 

Sharapova’s memoir is required reading, of course.

A big tennis fan who moonlights in tennis media, Stahl also has taught a course called “The Meaning of Serena Williams”.

The story doesn’t ask the obvious question: will the women herself be a guest speaker?

Georgina Clark award highlights IW reunion

Alumni gathered at Indian Wells as Chris Evert received the Georgina Clark Mother award for “her contribution to the cultural and emotional life of the WTA family.”

Clark, a mother of five who died in 2010, was a WTA vice-president and the first woman to umpire a Wimbledon final: Evert vs. Navratilova in 1984.

“To see her grow and the women, person, the mother that she is. We would have never guessed that either one of us would have turned out the way we turned out, and we end up so close,” Navratilova said.
(Warning: mullet alert)

Hlavackova latest mom-to-be

Andrea Hlavackova, a 32-year-old Czech currently ranked No. 8 in the world in doubles, will be off the court for awhile.

She announced on her Instagram, in conjunction with a story on the WTA Tour’s website, that she and husband Fabrizio Sestini are expecting a baby this summer.

Hlavackova and countrywoman Barbora Strycova played in the Tour Finals in Singapore last October. But she hasn’t yet played in 2019.

“It was definitely something we planned in our lives, though it happened quicker than we expected,” Sestini-Hlavackova said.

She and Sestini, a tournament-relations director for the WTA, married in July, 2017.  

WTA picks top-5 outfits for ’18

Judging by the five outfits chosen by the WTA as its best of the 2018 season, it has not been a banner year for women’s tennis fashion.

It happens. At least they didn’t choose the peculiar Nike combination of pink (technically: ” guava ice”) dress over longer shorties that combined orange and green (officially: Orange Peel and Rainforest).

Serena Williams’s catsuit made the cut, hopefully more for the statement it made than the actual design. Also making it was the early-season adidas jumpsuit and Simona Halep’s “Neo Turq” Nike outfit from the French Open.

Mattek-Sands Lucky in (tennis) Love

It’s a real challenge these days for players to get clothing sponsorships, with nearly all the money going to the very, very top players.

But American doubles star Bethanie Mattek-Sands – always known for her sartorial splendor on court – has carved out a deal with the Miami-based brand Lucky in Love.

They will collaborate on “capsule collections” throughout the year, with the first kicking off for January’s Australian Open.

If you don’t know the brand, they’ve been head and shoulders over the rest the last few years for fun, bright, original designs. Amazing stuff.

Mouratoglou – Serena should make Paris

Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou says his charge needed five weeks to be ready, after arriving at his academy April 30.

“After her pregnancy, Serena had to rebuild her body. … That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome,” Mouratoglou said in an exclusive interview with the WTA Tour website

“She is improving in all the areas fast. I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros,” he said.

Williams also was spotted with tape on her left knee.

An Instagram post by Williams Monday had her in Rome Monday.