Was that a cocktail dress Maria Sharapova was wearing Tuesday night when she won her first match at the 2009 U.S. Open? If it was, it would have fit right in: The general feeling on Day 2, at least for your humble correspondent stationed in the Olympus hospitality suite, was less of sweaty athleticism than of perpetual cocktail party.
Sharapova’s tennis gown was sheer, black, and glam, accented by a few crisscrossing stripes of gleaming silver—and revealing plenty of nut-brown skin on a towering blond-fringed skyscraper of talent. The effect was architectural by design.
“It was actually inspired by the architecture of New York,” the 22-year-old Russian explained in her post-match interview after dispatching Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in two lightning-quick sets.
“She wins this match, that’s a million dollars right there. That’s how fast things happen.”
Sharapova, who was returning to tournament play seeded 29th after 10 months nursing injuries, said she was “quite surprised” that the outfit was getting such a positive response on the ESPN Web site. “It was actually inspired by Frank Gehry—it’s a tribute to him.”
Anybody who dresses up on the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium to honor Frank Gehry—who happens to have designed the curvy IAC Building, in which The Daily Beast resides—is all right by me. Even if the dress, and Sharapova in it, generated more excitement than the match.
XTRA INSIGHT:• Check out The Daily Beast's latest U.S. Open photos and reports.• Gallery: Sunshine at the U.S. Open• Gallery: Opening Scenes of the U.S. Open• Lloyd Grove's Day 1 U.S. Open Diary It’s still early days in the two-week-long tournament, which has yet to build up a heavy head of steam. So far, the biggest celebs attending appear to have been Christie Brinkley—who posed for snapshots Monday night with a procession of apparently auditioning future ex-husbands—and someone described as “that guy from Dexter.”
Then, of course, there was tennis fanatic David Dinkins, the former mayor of New York, sitting front and center in the President’s Box and settling in for the long haul.
“Do you want Christie Brinkley’s number? I got it last night,” claimed a guest named Marty in the Olympus suite. A friend of Marty’s chimed in: “Yeah, the number she gave Marty started with 555.”
Both wags refilled their beer mugs.
The tennis purists at the Open were more interested in the goings-on at the practice courts, where thick hedges blocking the view didn’t deter fans from crawling under the foliage, taking care not to damage a long water pipe, and pressing their noses against a chicken-wire fence to watch Andy Roddick’s legs darting hither and yon.
Apparently these practice-court peeping toms, some of whom had videocameras, were skinning their knees and making themselves otherwise uncomfortable in hopes of getting a Roddick up-shorts shot.
“It’s worth it,” said a stylish-looking woman as she emerged from a hedge. And if one gets scratched and itchy in the bargain, “there’s calamine lotion,” she pointed out.
In the morning, the 167th seed, Australian Olivia Rogowska, gave No. 1 seed Russian Dinara Safina a huge fright by taking her to three hard-fought sets—winning the first set and just about breaking the top player’s spirit in 2½ hours of breathtaking play.
“That set probably earned her a couple of hundred thousand dollars in endorsements,” said a business-minded spectator as the second set commenced. “She wins this match, that’s a million dollars right there. That’s how fast things happen.”
Alas, it was not to be—but the plucky young lady from Down Under was the breakout star of the day.
Lloyd Grove is editor at large for The Daily Beast. He is also a frequent contributor to New York magazine and was a contributing editor for Condé Nast Portfolio. He wrote a gossip column for the New York Daily News from 2003 to 2006. Prior to that, he wrote the Reliable Source column for the Washington Post, where he spent 23 years covering politics, the media, and other subjects.