Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tennis Week Gets a Hollywood Makeover

Ever wonder what would happen if Tennis and Us Weekly magazines had a baby? No, probably not. How about if Peter Bodo and Bonnie Fuller did the nasty and their kid grew up to be a magazine editor? No, that's not going to work either. Well, maybe it's just easier to show you what happened to my favorite tennis magazine, Tennis Week. Once the ultimate guide to the professional tour -- without all of that annoying club-player fashion and instructional crap that ruins Tennis magazine -- Tennis Week was always the place to go for in-depth interviews with the players and officials, tour analysis, plus (my favorite feature) the complete draws of all professional events. What's the new Tennis Week like? For starters -- like many publications -- they've reduced the size of the book. But when I say reduced I mean reduced: it's now a mere 6.5 by 9 inches (think teenage girl pubs, like Teen Vogue). This alone makes it difficult to handle, although you quickly discover that in an apparent attempt to cash in on the "Tennis Hollywood" craze(!) it doesn't really matter much since all of the writing has been replaced with gossip and tabloid-ready photos, mostly of Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova and any other player who would be likely featured in, well, the tabloids. Let's have a look:
OMG -- Maria's totally at Fashion Week with Mischa Barton and that Dan guy who was on "The Real World" when they were both 8.
The celebrity lookalikes feature was clearly written by someone who is, well, way too old to be working at the Star. Rita Wilson and Daphne Zuniga? (Did I write that?) And if I were Beyonce I'd be hiring a lawyer.
As widely reported, Chris Evert did officially leave her husband of 18 years for one of his friends -- the golfer Greg Norman. It's weird how a 50something Evert is twice as fit as she ever was when she was a player, although she's way too old to be wearing that outfit no matter how fit she is. (God, is this place hiring?)
And then there's the piece de resistance: Ashley Harkelroad (who??? oh, wait: she's No. 95 in the world, but she's attractive -- sign her up!) and her What to Do With My Hair spread. (Who cares about her hair -- what about her dismal win-loss record?) While the words "get the look" should never be associated with professional tennis players and makeup -- see the 1985 WTA Calendar if you need clarification -- I suppose if there's anyone for whom the rule can be broken it's Ashley. It's just a shame Ted Tinling isn't alive to write TW's FASHION UMPIRE column. I can already see it: "Those shoes with that dress? Double fault." "In that outfit someone needs to be sent back to the quallies." "Her new hairstyle is what I call a code violation."

And lastly, feature articles have been replaced with a gossip section, with goodies about Bjorn Borg's new underwear collection (OMG!), Billie Jean King at Fashion Week (OMG, did she run into Maria and Mischa?), the latest on Anna (what's she up to since retiring 10 years ago?) and what's really on James Blake's iPod (I can finally sleep tonight).

Well, I've been saying it for years. The Us Weekly-ification of America is in full swing, and clearly Tennis Week is its latest victim. While that may be what the market calls for (although I doubt it in this case), it's pretty sad when the 33-year-old insider's look at the sport you love suddenly mistakes Novak Djokovic for Andy Murray in a caption (page 47) --hello, people! one has washboard abs, the other has jacked-up teeth! -- yet you get the sinking feeling that they got the name, make and shade of every lip gloss 100 percent correct.
My grade: C-
Tennis weak
Will alienate true tennis fans and garner no new ones


Anonymous said...

Chris too old for that outfit? What about Greg and his flipflop-jeans-oversized t-shirt?

On second thought, if ANYONE wants to wear anything including tshirts- tight jeans-flipflops - regardless of age, more power to them.

Now, if we could only get Mick Jagger to stop wearing those skinny jeans, or Condalisa Rice wearing Barbara Bush's clothes or Brad Pitt wearing any clothes (oh wait he is 40+, that OK).

BW said...

If Gene Scott were alive, he'd be rolling in his grave.

I must admit, though, that I have mistaken Novak "I Quit. I Lose. I Am Best!" Djokovic for a simpering gypsy con man.

nathaniel said...

I completely agree with your assessment. And why haven't I gotten another, if it's truly a weekly?

Anonymous said...

The magazine is a joke and an embarrassment. It is a sad day for the serious tennis reader. I agree that Gene Scott is rolling in his grave.

This makes me sick.

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