James "I'm Your GQ Tennis Man & Model", Blake - TennisForum.com
Closed Thread
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 2,282
 
Cool James "I'm Your GQ Tennis Man & Model", Blake

http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-07-1...s/a-157540.asp




Look of a Winner
James Blake is thriving
at tennis and modeling

By SAM BORDEN
Daily News Sports Writer


NEWPORT, R.I.

hen James Blake was 18, it was his brain that led him to Harvard. When James Blake turned 20, it was his arms and legs that propelled him onto the ATP tour. Now that James Blake is 22, it's his face that has carried him in front of the camera.


James Blake kneels after giving up a point to Taylor Dent at yesterday's Hall of Fame Championships.

He is young, black and proud — unashamed to be playing a game that is historically white, unabashed about posing while the flashbulbs flicker. He grew up in Yonkers and Fairfield, Conn., learned tennis in Harlem, went to class in Boston and won his very first ATP Tour match in this seaside town three years ago.

He returned here for the Hall of Fame Championships — as the tournament's top seed — but not before doing a photo shoot for the September issue of Vogue magazine the day before he arrived. Blake made it all the way to the final, but yesterday lost to fellow American Taylor Dent, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

It is something of a novelty for a male tennis player to double as a model, but so too is it a novelty for an African-American to crack the top 50. Blake is the first to do so since MaliVai Washington, who was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 1994.

"The fact that he's African-American and the fact that he went to Harvard makes him something to talk about," says Chris Forberg, head of the men's division of IMG Models, the agency that represents Blake. "It's funny, because 99% of the athletes just aren't good-looking enough to pull it off. But he is."

* * *

The comparisons to the Williams sisters are natural. Blake's father Tom, like Richard Williams, was a tennis player — in fact, that is how he met James' mother Betty, who is white and British. The Williamses and Blake share an agent, Carlos Fleming, and Blake also has a tennis sibling — older brother Thomas, who has struggled with injuries but is trying to make it on the tour as well.

But Blake does not have the results the sisters have — he has yet to win an ATP event and has made just two tournament finals — though he plays the same role as an ambassador to younger black fans.

"There are definitely some people at certain tournaments that might not have been there if I wasn't there," Blake says.

And now a new comparison has sprung up. The world sees Blake in designer suits, in chic casual wear, even with his 6-1, 170-pound frame lying prone across a haystack in the back of semi truck.

Much like Anna Kournikova, Blake has found less fame on the court than in the camera's eye.

"The one thing we've always tried to avoid is the Anna Kournikova phenomenon," says Fleming. "We've never overplayed the fact that he's a handsome guy. That speaks for itself. You're never going to see him do any outrageous stuff, because that's not his personality."

Blake vigorously maintains that his modeling is secondary to his tennis. Although he signed with Fleming in 1999, he didn't join IMG Models until October 2001, waiting until he had established himself on the tour.

"Jim Courier was the first one who told me that he got a whole lot better looking that first time he won the French Open," says Blake, "and he got even better looking each time he won a major after that."

Blake has already appeared in Teen Vogue and Ocean Drive, and will model Nike's new McEnroe line later this year, which includes non-tennis clothing. Forberg said that IMG has had "plenty of bites from major designers" about Blake, but has been unable to follow through on many of them because of the restrictions in Blake's contract with Nike.

"All we want to do is help him raise his profile," Forberg says. "We'd like to put him in magazines that he wouldn't otherwise be in."

It has been almost a year since Lleyton Hewitt made a racially insensitive remark about a black linesman during a U.S. Open match with Blake, which was the first time that Blake's name found its way into the national headlines. Blake anticipates playing in Flushing again next month, and hopes he makes news for more traditional reasons.

"I really didn't want to make it on SportsCenter for the first time on the other side of a controversy like that," he said.

His diplomatic reaction to Hewitt earned him praise for his demeanor, but since then he has been intent on making news for reasons other than his skin color. His powerful forehand is highly-regarded on tour and his speed on court is admired — "If I was as fast as James, I'd be in good shape," said Dent.

Blake is currently ranked 35th, is a perfect 5-0 in Davis Cup matches for the USA and made his first ATP tournament final earlier this year in Memphis. At Wimbledon, he dropped an excruciating second-round match to Richard Krajicek, losing 11-9 in the fifth set.

So far, that first title has eluded him, but Blake claims that his outside interests have little to do with it.

"Tennis is an individual sport and that works for some people, but it doesn't work for me," he says. "It's not my philosophy. I think if I thought about tennis all the time, I'd actually get worse."

So he doesn't. And at least one former tennis pro thinks there's nothing wrong with that.

"You know what, the Anna Kournikova phenomenon is not a bad thing at all," says Washington, who became friends with Blake after losing to him here in 1999. "It's great for tennis, it's great for Anna's bank account and what's wrong with that? I think it's terrific James can cross over to non-sports related stuff. I think he realizes he's been blessed with some assets and not everyone can cross over into that arena."

Despite his agents' hopes of raising his profile, Blake still travels in relative obscurity — "If I don't shave, people confuse me with Lenny Kravitz sometimes," he confesses — and should he suddenly start getting mobbed in malls, there are plenty of mechanisms available to keep him grounded.

"Every once in awhile we'll give him some stuff, keep his head from getting too big," says brother Thomas, who also pointed out that although people confuse him with James, he has not gotten any modeling offers of his own. "People say we look alike. But I guess not."

The ribbing is not confined to Thomas or his parents (his mother calls his dreadlocks "worms on my head," among other things), since Blake hears plenty in the locker room, too.

He doesn't mind, though. He's happy enough to be playing tennis each day, dreaming of the time when he'll face now-No. 1 Hewitt again and beat him — with no controversy to cloud the match.

And then off to do a GQ cover?

"If I'm not too old and wrinkly and bald and gray, maybe," he says. "If people still want to take my picture, that would be fine with me."

* * *

Countdown to U.S. Open

When: Aug. 26 thru Sept. 8
Where: National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows
Defending Champs: Lleyton Hewitt & Venus Williams
Ticket Info: www.usopen.org

Original Publication Date: 7/15/02

GogoGirl
GogoGirl is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:20 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,115
                     
James hair has got to go or get shorter. It is starting to look like Medusa. He really is a handsome guy but there should be an article about Dent too since he is the winner and is young and very polite and talented. This just backs up Martina Hingis's comments about players getting recognition because of their blackness. Taylor wins the title, in HIS FIRST FINAL EVER, playing great tennis and yet the focus is put on the black ANNA KOURNIKOVA player. Unfortunately tennis is becoming all about looks and marketability. of course racism is still a problem but race also makes him marketable to whites and blacks and then throw in a reference to ANNA KOURNIKOVA and you add even more to the mix. It's sad to me that Taylor, who is a gentleman and whom I really like, basically gets ignored despite outplaying James. James exhibited very poor sportsmanship in his semis and finals and I think the pressure is getting to him. If Hewitt behaved like James did then people would be all over him but not against James because they would be called a racist and not against America's darling Andy Roddick. Mind you that NONE of this is James or Andy's fault but it's really unfair. Why not let James's tennis speak for itself? Instead we have to constantly endure the fact that he is mixed (or in this case it's said that he is black) shoved down our throat. I am openly gay and would not want that to be the focus of my career. This is the whole problem with race in America and I believe Martina Hingis was right when she said what she did about the Williams sisters. Unfortunately what she said was ALSO WRONG because Martina did not pick her words carefully enough and only later was able to clarify what she meant. She spoke too soon without thinking and then later tried to explain it. I am sure she did not anticipate how sensitive people are over racial issues. Martina should not have said that the ONLY reason for the Williams marketability was because they are black but rather that it does give them an advantage in how much they get hyped.
treufreund is offline  
post #3 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:25 PM
Senior Member
 
selesfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 6,162
                     
Thanks for the article Gogogirl! James is such a sweetie!
selesfan is offline  
post #4 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:34 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,115
                     
James is a sweetie but I think he needs to chill out now. He has had so many tough losses and the pressure is really starting to make him sad and irritable. It's understandable. I kind of liken it to what Jelena Dokic or Alexandra Stevenson sometimes exhibit in their frustration or even Jennifer Capriati, a player whom I admire.
treufreund is offline  
post #5 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:39 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Fyn (I'm lying like YOU, too)
Posts: 2,029
 
You're so country, treufruend.
Beige is offline  
post #6 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:44 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Pensacola, Fl
Posts: 199
 
Anna gets thrown into everything! Cheap shots!

James is a cutie, though and a very talented player!
endiadjendiadj is offline  
post #7 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:45 PM
Veelieve!!!
 
Infiniti2001's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 27,951
 
No Beige, treufreund speaks from both sides of his mouth FYI James Blake's behaviour is mild compared to Hewitt who reminds me of some dumbass 20 year old frat boy who drinks too much beer and gets loud and obnoxious at a Smashmouth concert ...
Anyway , thanks for the article Gogogirl

Infiniti2001 is offline  
post #8 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 06:49 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Fyn (I'm lying like YOU, too)
Posts: 2,029
 
Quote:
Originally posted by Infiniti2001
No Beige, treufreund speaks from both sides of his mouth FYI James Blake's behaviour is mild compared to Hewitt who reminds me of some dumbass 20 year old frat boy who drinks too much beer and gets loud and obnoxious at a Smashmouth concert ...
Anyway , thanks for the article Gogogirl
I know. I'm a fool to even contest anything he says because he's so full of it. I., Lleyton's racist ass was lucky to get off so easily with that US Open incident.

But I digress...

Thanks, GG.
Beige is offline  
post #9 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:12 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 136
 
Quote:
Originally posted by treufreund
James is a sweetie but I think he needs to chill out now. He has had so many tough losses and the pressure is really starting to make him sad and irritable. It's understandable. I kind of liken it to what Jelena Dokic or Alexandra Stevenson sometimes exhibit in their frustration or even Jennifer Capriati, a player whom I admire.
You are so completely off base. Blake is known for his good sportsmanship and was very gracious in his loss to Taylor Dent. Also note his reaction to that idiot Hewitt at the Open last year. He could have made a big stink but stayed above the fray.

As for Hingis and your assessment that blacks have it so good in the sport and get extra added attention give me a break!!! The press AND fans fall over themselves whenever a half way decent white player who doesn't look like a troll comes along. Note their obsession with any and all BLOND women who can hold a racket. And surely Andy Roddick gets undue attention as the Great White Hope. Even he said at this year's wimbly that he was treated like he could do no wrong.

Your bias is soooo obvious.
midora is offline  
post #10 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:16 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,115
                     
I think you kinda read things into my post that weren't there. I like James but he did more than just a bit emotional. He got a warning for foul language and protested many line calls. I still like him just like I like Capriati and Hingis. Hingis of today however is not the same brat that she was when she was only 17. I do speak out of both sides of my mouth because REALITY is COMPLEX not black and white the way BEIGE sees things. I always take great pains to clarify myself because I realize that many NAIVE people will jump on to my posts and not make any attempt to dialogue on a productive level. Parts of my posts are uncomfortable for some people because I dare to say things that are staring everyone in the face but they are afraid to say because of reprisals and the usual shouts of Hater, country, racist, etc. But if they would take some time to dialogue they would see that I hate injustice whether it is carried out on the short, the tall, the black, the white, the old, the gay, the young, the beautiful, the ugly, the yellow, the Spaniards, the Americans, etc, etc.
treufreund is offline  
post #11 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:19 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,115
                     
midora, you are really right about them jumping all over the great white hopes. Roddick is WAY overhyped as is HARKLEROAD. I really do agree with you on most of what you wrote. My bias is against hyping players bases on race, looks, etc. And that really does go both ways.
treufreund is offline  
post #12 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:20 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Fyn (I'm lying like YOU, too)
Posts: 2,029
 
Treu, whatever. I can't wait until you take a few swipes at the one and only "classy" Chanda. And, punk, you KNOW the day will come...and my finger will be a-pointing.
Beige is offline  
post #13 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:22 PM
Senior Member
 
selesfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 6,162
                     
LOL@Beige! He always has a hidden agenda in his posts, comes off as a nice guy who is so misunderstood.
selesfan is offline  
post #14 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:23 PM
Senior Member
 
tennischick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: cerca de aquν
Posts: 5,730
                     
Tennis magazine April 2002 has the best article about James . check it out. by the way does anyone know whatever happened to his website? it doesn't seem to exist any longer.

"For now, Roddick seems to play with the intelligence of a fence post."
Greg Couch, Chicago Sun Times
tennischick is offline  
post #15 of 90 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 07:26 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,115
                     
selesfan,

no comments from the peanut gallery, please.

Beige,

I am a nice guy. Chanda is one of my faves but I will take a swipe in the future if need be. Just like I take swipes at my absolute fave Martina Hingis and at others like Mauresmo and Henin whom I also like. Don't even try to control what I will say in the future. Or make threats that carry no weight. If and when you and selesfan want to get over reading all of my posts with your usual suspicion then we can dialogue. I don't need to come across like a victim since I know that my heart is good.
treufreund is offline  
Closed Thread

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the TennisForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome