WHO IS … BETHANIE MATTEK-SANDS?

USA TODAY SPORTS
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Learn more about Team USA’s doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The United States’ Bethanie Mattek-Sands (born Bethanie Mattek) is a self-described “adrenaline junkie” with a flashy fashion sense, one that’s earned her a reputation as “the Lady Gaga of tennis”. But more importantly, Mattek-Sands is one of the world’s top doubles players. By year-end 2015, she was ranked World No. 3 in women’s doubles by the Women’s Tennis Association.

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Beginnings:

Mattek-Sands was born in Rochester, Minnesota on March 23, 1985 to parents Tim and Heidi. She began playing tennis at 5 years old, inspired by her dad; Mattek-Sands says on her website she “nearly knocked [her father] over” with her powerful shots.

Mattek-Sands loved all sports as a child, and possessed a particularly fierce competitive spirit. She often practiced with her father and her golden retriever, Rocky, who would pick up stray tennis balls.

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Mattek-Sands is known for her eccentric fashion sense.
Mattek-Sands is known for her eccentric fashion sense. Credit: Susan Mullane/US Presswire

When not whacking tennis balls, Mattek-Sands also played piano. She has one younger sister, Alison (nicknamed “Tsiony”), and two younger brothers, Chaddy and Andrew (“Boom Boom”). Mattek-Sands also has a twin named Sania; together, they sometimes refer to themselves as “the Bryan Sisters” – a reference to tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan.

A more detailed (and highly entertaining) biography is available on Mattek-Sands’ website. The athlete made her professional debut at just 14 years old in 1999.

Major competitions:

As of July 2016, Mattek-Sands has won 19 WTA doubles titles. However, she has also performed well at the Grand Slam tournaments’ singles competitions in recent years.

Best Grand Slam singles results:
Australian Open: Third round, 2015
French Open: Fourth round, 2013
Wimbledon: Fourth round, 2008
US Open: Third round, 2015

Best Grand Slam doubles results:
Australian Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova)
French Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova)
Wimbledon: Semifinals, 2010 (alongside the United States’ Liezel Huber)
US Open: Quarterfinals, 2007 (alongside India’s Sania Mirza), 2009 (alongside Russia’s Nadia Petrova), 2010 (alongside the United States’ Meghann Shaughnessy)

Best Grand Slam mixed doubles results:
Australian Open: Winner, 2012 (alongside Romania’s Horia Tecau)
French Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Mike Bryan)
Wimbledon: Semifinals, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Mike Bryan)
US Open: Final, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Sam Querrey)

Olympic experience:
The Rio Games will serve as Mattek-Sands’ first Olympic experience.

Off the court:
Even while competing, Mattek-Sands has a very distinct fashion sense that has earned her the nickname “America’s Tennis Rock Star”. She often dyes her hair and wears knee-high compression socks.

In 2008, Mattek became Mattek-Sands when she married her “best friend … and Brett Favre lookalike” Justin “Bubs”. They have a huge South African Boerboel Mastiff dog named Ruger.

 

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Her hobbies include cars, shopping, cooking, hiking and watching the Green Bay Packers. She was selected as the first pro athlete “Glass Explorer” by Google.

Top quote:

“I feel like my style on court helps me be a better player, because it’s me, it’s who I am.”
Bethanie Mattek-Sands to The Daily Mail

NOT EVEN CREAM: HERE’S A LOOK AT WIMBLEDON’S RIDICULOUS ALL WHITE POLICY

Gaurav Bhatt, Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Updated: Jul 09, 2016 15:10 IST

 

To call the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club a stickler for tradition would be an understatement. Till 2002, players were required to curtsey to the Royal Box on the Centre Court. The Duke of Kent, who is also the club’s president, discontinued the ritual, deeming it anachronistic.

The pristine white outfits are a different story altogether. The strict rules (failing which a player can be disqualified) make the Wimbledon whiter than this year’s Oscars.

The archaic custom is rooted in the Victorian era when tennis was a sport for the cultured, to be played at social gatherings. Now, sport equals sweat equals inappropriate patches on coloured clothing. Enter the ‘tennis whites’.

The archaic custom is rooted in the Victorian era when tennis was a sport for the cultured.

Cut to 2014, when a 10-part decree was introduced in the rulebook which states that “white does not include off-white or cream” and allows only “a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre.” The rule now covers caps, headbands, bandanas, wristbands, shoes and even “any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration).”

Players have to send sample of their clothing to the club for approval at least 90 days in advance.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the resident Lady Gaga of tennis expectedly has had trouble following the code. The colourful American – what with the dyed hair, tattooed arm and black warpaint – said that the “rules have become ridiculously strict.”

“I mean, you can’t even wear off white or cream. I was going to joke about that. I was like, man, if you wash your whites too many times, they will be illegal. Better be washing it in cold water.”

But Mattek-Sands, who “didn’t even get married in white”, isn’t one to give up easy.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands said that the “rules have become ridiculously strict”. (AP Photo)

Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 finalist, was cautioned for wearing a black bra.

 

There’s no leeway for tennis royalties either. Seven-time champion Roger Federer was banned from wearing orange-soled shoes in 2014.

Roger Federer was banned from wearing orange-soled shoes in 2014. (Getty Images)

“I just find it quite extreme to what extent it’s gotten to white. We’re talking white like it was in the ‘50s,” said Federer last year. “The thing is, when I was watching on TV, I still have the pictures in my mind where Edberg and Becker and all those guys, they had more colour.”

Strangely, former greats Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg got away with more colour on centre court. (Getty Images)

The colourful yesteryears were courtesy of a relaxation in rules in 1963, when the players were asked to wear ‘predominantly in white’ clothing.

Predominantly, however, didn’t cut it for the rebel that was Andre Agassi, who famously skipped Wimbledon from 1988 to 1990 because his signature denim shorts weren’t allowed. The American ultimately came around and won the tournament in 1992.

One would think that the All England Club would further relax the rules, right? Nope. In 1995, the rule was updated (read: tightened) to allow “almost entirely white” clothes.

And two years back, the “predominantly” and “almost entirely” were quantified as 1 centimetre.

For both designers and players alike, the 1cm coloured strip is room enough for experimentation. It might be all-white, but over the years Wimbledon has seen more than just the regular collars, pleats and classic cuts. There have been designs aplenty – both good (Federer’s gold man bag and military style jacket from 2009) and bad (this year’s disastrous ‘baby-doll’ kit.)

For both designers and players alike, the 1cm coloured strip is room enough for experimentation.

Read: Nike’s revealing ‘baby doll’ dress for Wimbledon draws flak from players

Thankfully, save for Anne White’s cat-suit, there has been no true ‘ugly’ fashion moment at Wimbledon.

Same can’t be said for the French Open though. Zebra tops, anyone?

 

WIMBLEDON ISN’T JUST ABOUT TENNIS. THERE’S ALSO WAY TOO MUCH SQUASH

Old-style fruit cordial holds hallowed place at Centre Court; players take a bye

Robinsons squash is provided on all the courts at Wimbledon. Most players prefer modern sports drinks. PHOTO: JORDAN MANSFIELD/GETTY IMAGES

By

TOM PERROTTA

July 8, 2016 10:45 a.m. ET

10 COMMENTS

LONDON—At the Wimbledon tennis finals this weekend, four bottles of a fruit-flavored drink commonly known as “squash” will stand on a shelf beneath the chair umpire’s seat in Centre Court. No one will touch them.

Robinsons squash is a prewar-era British cordial, a concoction of fruit juice, sweeteners and, occasionally, barley flour that, when diluted with water, makes a slightly sticky drink that tastes like childhood. It’s on every court and in locker rooms, and can be found for sale on the grounds of the All England Club, where Wimbledon is held.

Robinsons lemon barley water

HC-GU531_Drawin_G_20160706183515“I’ve never, in eight years at Wimbledon, seen a player open one,” said Justin Sands, the husband of American tennis pro Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Chris Evert, a three-time Wimbledon singles champion and ESPN commentator, drank Robinsons during matches in the 1970s, but didn’t know it was still available until earlier this week, when she peered out the window of the network’s lounge, which overlooks Court 18. There the bottles stood, untouched. “I liked the yellow,” she said. “I don’t like it now, I liked it back then.”

Bob Bryan, the American doubles star who has played at Wimbledon every year since 1999, had never heard of it. “Robinsons barley water—what’s that?” he asked. “It’s on the court?”

Robinsons, in fact, was created at Wimbledon. Matthias Robinson patented it in 1823, but the modern version was introduced at the tournament to give tired players a boost. Today’s flavors include orange, summer fruits, lemon, apple and blackcurrant, and pink grapefruit. Robinsons is also sold in super-concentrated, pocket-size containers called Squash’d that mix up to 20 drinks. A sponsor since 1935, Robinsons is one of just six brands displayed, in discreet lettering, inside Centre Court, along with Slazenger, Rolex,IBM, Evian and Jaguar.

“We used to sip it and swill it around, sometimes you’d drink it and sometimes you’d spit it out,” said Fred Stolle, the Australian who played in three Wimbledon singles finals in the 1960s. “There was no Gatorade.”

For Billie Jean King, who won six Wimbledon singles titles, Robinsons had foreign allure. “I drank it because it was British,” she said. “I wanted to learn their customs, see what they like.”

For today’s players, Robinsons has gone the way of wooden rackets and flannel trousers. They pack their own carefully calibrated pick-me-ups that contain electrolytes, sodium or other nutrients. They suck down energy gels from pouches. Mike Bryan, Bob’s twin brother and doubles partner, recently started sipping a half-and-half mixture of coffee and water during matches.

No one drinks Robinsons on court. Those who try it in the locker rooms usually don’t come back for seconds.

“It was too sweet,” said Jelena Jankovic, the former No. 1 ranked player from Serbia. “This drink is for when you’re just sitting around doing nothing. But when you have to run around, you’re not going to get anything from that.”

A stand at Wimbledon’s Queue offering free samples of Robinsons this week. PHOTO: TOM PERROTTA

France’s Caroline Garcia, whose team won the women’s doubles title at the French Open, nearly took a sip of undiluted Robinsons in the locker room last year. An attendant intervened and told her that she needed to add water.

“I was curious, there were so many bottles, so many colors!” Ms. Garcia said. “It was OK, nothing special. I didn’t have it again.”

Ms. Mattek-Sands had warned her husband not to try it, but he didn’t listen. “It’s disgusting,” Mr. Sands said. “I don’t want to even call it juice—that’d be a slap in the face to other juices.”

Brits, Aussies and South Africans who grew up with cordials can’t agree. For them, Robinsons brings back sweet memories of bygone days. Retired British tennis pro Tim Henman has starred in Robinsons commercials, including one with a young Andy Murray.Robinsons said British people drink three million glasses a day.

“We grew up with it,” said Leon Smith, the captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup tennis team. “I still buy it for my children, it’s still in my cupboards at home.”

Jonathan Marray, a Wimbledon men’s doubles winner in 2012, doesn’t drink Robinsons while he is competing, but at home he prefers it to soda. “If you don’t want an alcoholic beverage, and you don’t want a really sugary drink, it’s nice to have just a bit of water with a bit of something in it,” he said.

Pimm’s, a gin-based drink served with garnishes, is the champion of Wimbledon’s beverages among spectators. Last year the tournament sold 320,000 servings, almost as much as tea and coffee combined (330,000 cups). Fans bought 230,000 bottles of water, 110,000 pints of beer and 29,000 bottles of Champagne.

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Bottles of Robinsons on an umpire’s chair at Wimbledon. PHOTO: ANDY RAIN/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The All England Club and Britvic PLC, which owns Robinsons, declined to provide Wimbledon sales figures. Mick Desmond, the All England Club’s commercial and media director, said the partnership wasn’t about on-site sales, or even what Robinsons pays to appear on Centre Court.

“It’s not always about money,” he said. “Robinsons is synonymous with the championships.”

On a drizzly day early in the tournament, a crowd gathered at Henman Hill, the grassy slope where those who don’t have Centre Court tickets eat, drink and watch tennis on a giant television screen. From 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., the Hill’s refreshment stand sold 50 large cups of Pimm’s (£8.30 each, or about $11), one small cup of strawberry Pimm’s “with a hint of mint” (£6.20), three bottles of Champagne and one bottle of white wine. The cashier gave away one free cup of ice. Those who asked for beer were directed to another stand. No one bought a “Robinsons Squashy,” a slushy cup of crushed ice flavored with orange or lemon (£3.50).

Robinsons is more popular when it is free, as it is at a stand in the golf course across the street from Wimbledon, where fans camp out and queue up for tickets. Analette Abesamis, in from Manila, drank a sample cup of orange squash on Tuesday on her way to the tennis.

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“I’m from a tropical country and this is really close to the real thing,” she said. “Western juices tend to be more thick.”

Occasionally, even a player is convinced. When Bob Bryan was brought a cup earlier this week, he took a tentative sip—then another.

“That’s pretty good,” he said. “It’s like a melted orange Skittle.”