Maria Sharapova says there's nothing more "boring" than watching a tennis player warm up. To make matters interesting, she insists, you've gotta add music to the mix.
"I don't think the crowd just wants to see us practicing for five minutes," says Sharapova, who likes to serve and volley to anything by Kanye West. "Good music," she explained last week at the Tiffany-InStyle party in Manhattan, "completely changes the atmosphere."
For players at the U.S. Open, Arthur Ashe Stadium is the world's biggest jukebox. Each year, USTA honchos ask top seeds who they want on the loudspeaker when it's their turn. Sometimes, they pipe up with a preference; otherwise, producers match music to the moment.
Before play began, producers asked Serena Williams for her musical selections. Came her reply: "Party in the U.S.A.," by Miley Cyrus. There was an awkward silence . . . then Williams owned up to the jest and put in a request for "Straight Out of Compton," by NWA. And yes, she's a fan of close pal Common, too.
Michael Fiur, who manages all aspects of entertainment for the USTA, says this year's most frequently requested song is "I Gotta Feeling," by the Black Eyed Peas.
When James Blake first came to the Open, he chose songs that pumped him up. Now, he says he selects songs that are more soothing. "In New York . . . you need to mellow out a little more than getting that excited," he said. Nonetheless, Blake says his top song will always be "Juicy," by Notorious B.I.G. "I listened to it my entire first summer before I went out on the court."
With Bennett Marcus