Saturday, June 5, 2010

God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign

Last night's tennis practice was stopped by rain. The kind of rain that sweeps in on blustery winds, dropping the temperature 20 degrees in 30 minutes. The kind that reawakens the earth and makes you want to be outside just to share in it. The kind that makes you think you can play tennis with the big girls!

Then come the big drops. Then the little drops. Then the downpour and the race to the car. But ten minutes later it's over. The wind blows it on to the next court. The skies lighten and the sun is back out.

And then....

the rainbow sign.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

French Open Fashion

The tennis world has been focused on the French Open [actually known as Roland-Garros now] this past week - but more on what is being worn than on who's winning. The reason? Venus Williams!

In case you are not a big tennis fan, you may not know that in the off season both Venus and Serena are involved in fashion. Each has a line of clothing - Venus designs for "Eleven by Venus Williams" which has casual sports clothes for the player and the spectator. Soft fabrics for active clothes that would fit most anyone, but which are intended for play time. She also designs all her own tennis wear. It's always feminine and a bit edgy, like this white tennis dress from last year with the scalloped hem.

Serena's line is AneresDesign - for the independent woman who wants to dress well and look sexy. It's much more edgy, feminine and very much "dress up". She is working on a lingerie line and a fragrance, but they are apparently not yet available. Over the years Serena has shown up at various tournaments in not-so-normal tennis wear - things like denim, and boot covers on her shoes, tights and things that were a bit bare and a bit tight. For Roland-Garros this year she chose a conservative blue tennis dress with lime trim and a lime headband.

That's why it came as such a surprise when it was Venus who showed up this spring wearing a lingerie-like tennis dress. She has worn it several times, but didn't get big press until she showed up in Paris. There are two versions - red and black - but it's the black one that she has worn the past week.

It's a bit bare, rather short, and certainly suggestive of lingerie, but on first view I rather like it. NOT that I would ever think of wearing it! I look for the longer skirts and have never even considered a tennis dress - way too form fitting for me! Critics have called it her can-can costume, night clothes, and dance hall wear.

To give you a few other "costumes" to consider, here are some of the other leading female players and what they are wearing this week.

Jelena Jankovich of Serbia chose a yellow dress - rather similar to Serena's blue number. It's long enough, has a bit of ruffle for feminity and fits nicely. She has just played tennis for two hours and still looks fairly fresh and the dress is holding up and doesn't look sweaty, except for some wrinkling around the midrift. A nice choice, I think.

Oliva Sanchez of Spain chose a similar black dress with a bit of a floaty skirt. I like the higher square neck and the dress does not have the stretch at the waist so it doesn't pucker like Jalena's does, but overall, same dress different manufacturer. I don't particularly like the black. It looks a little "evening" to me, but overall a nice dress. Do you see a theme here in dress styles?

Other players have gone with a more traditional approach. Australia's Sam Stosur chose a regular knit tennis dress with trim at the neck and sleeves. She's worn it in orange and in navy, but it's pretty much the same dress that Chris Evert wore twenty years ago.

And Li Na from China is wearing what you and I would wear - a tennis skirt with a v-neck tee shirt. The pleats in the skirt give her additional room to move and the whole look is professional and appropriate to her job.

So, why all the hoopla about Venus's dress. It's still a bit short and a bit more like lingerie than everyone else's, but why is it creating a furor? It's what you cannot see.

Traditionally, women tennis players wear shorts or spanks that either match or contract with their dresses. Serena's are lime (contrast), Jelena's are yellow (match), Oliva's black (match), Sam's are white (contrast), and Na's are white (match).

But Venus' are skin-colored. Take a look at the action view and you decide... are these too much for the tennis court?

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010 - a day to remember those who have fallen to protect our freedoms and our way of life. A day to thank those who have had the courage to serve this Nation in its times of need.

If we have learned anything from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is how to love the warrior while hating the war - a lesson that we did not understand 40 years ago when our brothers and sisters were returning from southeast Asia. For them there was little "home coming" because most of us at home did not know how to separate their service from the cause. We may have welcomed our own soldier or sailor, but we failed miserably in finding a way to welcome them home as a group.

We also failed them medically and emotionally. We see the open wounds of the Vietnam War even today - veterans who are a huge part of our homeless population, whose emotional wounds have not been treated and who have never returned to the American way of life that they gave their souls for so many years ago. Our veterans' medical system is over burdened and struggling to accommodate the young men returning from today's battles while the warriors of yesterday are reaching the point of needing more care in their declining years - often in antiquated, over-crowded facilities. As a nation we need to do better. As individuals we need to start doing more.

At the very least we need to say thank you to those who have done so much for us. Thank you to Lew Puller. Thank you to Les Smith, Jake Smith, John Bane, and Ray Whiteman. Thank you to John Connell, to Ron Stewart, to Keith Hammock, and to Bob Kenney. Thank you to the 58,159 men and women who gave their lives in the jungles of southeast Asia and to their families.
Thank you to the 153,000 plus who were wounded there and to the families of the 2,500 still missing in action. For my generation Vietnam will always be the "big war" and the way we failed to understand it or resolve our feelings about it may mark us forever.

But today is a day to remember; a day to say thanks. "And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave, o're the land of the free and [especially] the home of the brave."