Playing doubles: Tennis and style collide with beauty, design

Sunday, September 3, 2006

NEW YORK -- These days, a good sense of style seems just as important a tool for tennis stars as good racquets and sneakers.

The U.S. Open, which runs through Sept. 10 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, is an opportunity for the Maria Sharapovas and Andy Roddicks of the world -- and their sponsors -- to show off what they think is the latest and greatest in athleticwear, beauty products and even home design.

Maybe it's no coincidence that the U.S. Open crosses its calendar with New York Fashion Week. Roddick even was on the sidelines of the catwalk last year at the Lacoste show.

Tennis tidbits this year

* Andre Agassi says goodbye to professional tennis after the U.S. Open and hello to furniture design.

Agassi, his wife, Steffi Graf, and furniture designer Mike Kreiss are launching a collection based on the pieces they created when Agassi and Graf were decorating their Las Vegas home. (Agassi's first major furniture purchase, after he won Wimbledon in 1992, was a Kreiss piece.)

In an e-mail statement to the Associated Press, Agassi said that it was important to marry his preference for luxury without opulence with Graf's taste for contemporary design, particularly modular, square shapes.

"We love the way the strength of the leather and synthetic rattan complement the comfort of the white upholstery; the color palette is masculine but very contemporary," Agassi said.

But there also were practical issues to consider, including their indoor-outdoor lifestyle and their two children.

That's where the AGK pieces made of wood, stone, indoor/ outdoor cotton upholstery and steel-framed rattan come in.

Furniture won't become Agassi's full-time passion, though. He says he'll spend most of his retirement days focusing on the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a charter school that aims to enhance children's character as well as their grade point averages.

*

People say a little black dress is right for every occasion. Maria Sharapova puts that to the test during the U.S. Open when she'll wear one during her evening matches.

This dress, inspired by Givenchy but designed by the team at Nike, takes some artistic -- or athletic -- liberties.

It's made from a patented Dri-Fit fabric, it has slits and the hemline to allow for mobility and the back is open to keep her cooler. Otherwise, though, it's more "Breakfast at Tiffany's" than center court.

The dress has a neckline with crystal embellishment and an empire waistline with a black belt and bow.

For her daytime matches, Sharapova, who is seeded third, will wear a more classic white tennis dress.

Sharapova works with Nike to design her outfits, providing photos and commentary on her likes and dislikes. She describes her style as she does her personality -- feminine and competitive.

*

It's so tempting to head into the clubhouse for a cool drink after a match, but what to do if all that running around took its toll on your hair and makeup?

Experts from the Warren-Tricomi Salons, which will have a temporary onsite salon catering to players and VIPs at the National Tennis Center, have some suggestions:

Co-owner Edward Tricomi suggests using a cloth headband to pull your hair back while you're playing instead of a ponytail holder, which will leave a dent. He also urges use of a leave-in conditioner to protect hair from strong UV rays. The heat from the sun also helps provide a deep conditioning treatment, so when you head inside, you'll have a soft tousled look.

If you do choose a ponytail, then slick hair back first and wear the ponytail low. Wrap the hair with an elastic band then take the pony tail, twist it and pin it for a classic chignon, Tricomi says.

When you come off the court, shake hair loose and use a volumizing spray at the roots.

For your face, a tinted moisturizer with SPF is a good tennis partner, says makeup artist Kristie Streicher. These lightweight and sometimes oil-free formulas can have better wearability than regular foundations, she says, and because they're sheer, they won't leave sweat lines.

Setting powder will help keep makeup from dripping and it'll help it last longer.

And, Streicher adds, waterproof mascara also means sweatproof mascara.

Between the courts and the clubhouse, dab concealer and setting powder, which will erase shine. Swipe a sheer wash of color over the lids, cheeks and lips.

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