Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Art for the sake of tennis

Rafa and Roger may be rivals, but that doesn't stop them for getting together for the sake of art.

Whether you like artful tennis or whether you like smashmouth tennis, it's pretty hard not to enjoy the ATP's idea of putting stencils of action shots on canvas and letting Rafa and Roger have at it. There will be six other commissioned pieces to come from the other six World Tour Finals qualifiers, who have yet to be determined, making eight in total.

"It was a little bit like a challenge to put the balls in the silhouette," said Rafa. Sure, I guess it's easier squeezing that backhand pass through an opening as wide as Paris Hilton's hips while a flummoxed Novak Djokovic prowls the other side of the net, right?

"This I could do every day," says Roger Federer. "It's not so easy to hit from a long distance away, but I think I did a good job and the results are gonna be nice."

All of the signed artwork will be on display in London in a major gallery come November, and the proceeds will go to charity.

It isn't exactly Picasso or Van Gogh, but I think the ATP is doing a wonderful job with the project. They've chosen creative stencils that convey the essence of the players, and they've found a way to make the works personal by having the players color the canvases with their own personal strokes.

This is a fantastic idea, no doubt inspired by Martina Navratilova's similar experiment in 2008 with Slovak artist Jurak Kralik. But whether the approach is entirely original or not is of no consequence. The important thing is that the ATP and it's top players have proven that their priorities are where they should be. In embracing art and fostering charity, the ATP is ensuring that the Barclays World Tour Finals will transcend the sport by adding a healthy dose of philanthropy and creativity to the mix.

I hope that the ATP takes it one stop further and issues replica prints of the original canvases so that die-hard tennis fans can obtain a copy of their favorite player's artwork, and I'm sure demand would be high if the price was reasonable enough.

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