Queen Goes Unrescued At Wimbledon: No Anthem

Monday I reported on a bit of a dust-up involving Scotland’s Andy Murray and the Queen of England. When he was told Queen Elizabeth would be appearing at Wimbledon for the first time in 33 years and that she would likely take in one of his matches, Murray said he was “unsure” if he would bow to the Queen - as has been protocol over the years.

England National Anthem Canceled At Wimbledon As Courtesy To Andy Murray

(Official itinerary of Queen Elizabeth at Wimbledon today)

Thanks to negative reaction to his comments, Murray quickly backed down and did his duty today on Centre Court in the presence of “H.M.” (Her Majesty.)

But Murray’s lack of enthusiasm for the tradition apparently wasn’t lost on Wimbledon officials. Nor was his past comments about the World Cup. When recently asked who he was rooting for in South Africa, Murray reportedly said, “anyone but England.Read more…

Wimbledon Snubs Serena For Queen Appearance

Queen Elizabeth will be at Centre Court Wimbledon today for the first time in 33 years to, apparently, watch three matches. The featured players the All England Club is rolling out for the monarch’s amusement are Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki.

Serena Williams Booty

(AOL’s Greg Couch is incensed by the snub)

Roger Federer and Venus Williams are off today, but attractive blonde Wozniacki got the nod over Serena Williams for the coveted Centre Court spot. Serena, who did end up meeting the queen with her sister Venus today, will play her match on Court 2.

So who made the call to snub Serena, who is the defending tournament champion and current World #1? And is there an evidence to suggest that the decision was racially motivated? Read more…

Wimbledon: Andy Murray Wavers On Queen Bow

For the first time in 30 years, Queen Elizabeth is planning to attend matches at Wimbledon this week. With players previously required to bow or curtsy when in the presence of the Queen, the appearance of the English Monarchy has apparently led to a dilemma for the U.K.’s top player and tournament fourth-seed Andy Murray.

Andy Murray Agrees To Bow To The Queen Of England

Murray, who is Scottish, is from a country that for centuries fought England for its independence and continues to celebrate many of its customs and traditions separately from England.

So it isn’t as automatic for Murray to bow to an English King or Queen as you might think. Add on Murray’s first blush reaction to the British press about the prospect and a bit of a panic set in across the pond.

Murray to the LONDON TELEGRAPH on meeting the Queen: Read more…

Speed Read: Yesterday Brought To You By Gillette

While Brooks and the rest of the SbB crew worked hard to get you the very latest on the Steve McNair murder, Sunday turned out to be a pretty big day for three of the world’s biggest athletes — who just happened to have co-starred in the “Citizen Kane” of awkward athlete endorsement campaigns.

Tiger Federer Jeter

That’s right, now that Thierry Henry has been booted from the Gillette posse (at least in America), all three razor-wielding superstars had pretty huge days.

First, Roger Federer made history by winning his 15th Grand Slam title in a crazy five-set win at Wimbledon over Andy Roddick. Pete Sampras was in the audience, taking in the match as only Sampras could — puking his guts out on the sideline looking bored out of his gourd. The 30-game fifth set was the longest in Slam history by a full 10 games. The final game was the only time Federer broke Roddick’s serve the entire match. Only Roddick’s inability to put away four set points in a second-set tiebreak kept him from pulling off the huge upset.

Federer and Sampras

As Federer was accepting his trophy, Tiger Woods was getting ready to tee off in the final round at the AT&T National, which he hosts. I’m not sure I understand the “host” thing, is that like when Heidi and Spencer “host” a party at PURE? He started the day in a tie with defending champion Anthony Kim, but soon found himself needing to keep up with Hunter Mahan, who started well back but fired a 62 to zoom all the way to the top of the leaderboard. Tiger drained a 20-footer on the 16th hole to take the lead, and he got to the clubhouse with two easy pars to wrap up his 68th PGA Tour win. And he interviewed himself afterward. I have to give him credit, though, as it was the first time the questions in a Tiger interview were as boring as the answers.

Jimmy Fallon and Tiger Woods

(I’m sure that losing to this guy in anything would be enough motivation to win whatever you were doing next)

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter was trying his best to hold up his end of the bargain in a measly regular-season game. But he came through with a four-hit day, including what turned out to be the game-winning home run in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 10-8 win over the Blue Jays. Better yet for DJ, he was officially named the starting shortstop for the AL All-Star team when the rosters were announced later in the afternoon.

Derek Jeter

Jeter got more votes than anyone else in the AL, but is joined in the starting lineup by just one other Yankee — first baseman Mark Teixeira. A-Rod is nowhere to be seen, with Evan Longoria getting the starting nod instead. Josh Hamilton was voted into the starting lineup despite missing all of June with an injury, and this year’s recipient of the Lance Carter Memorial “Who?” Award is Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey, who is a fine pitcher but a guy even baseball fans would be hard pressed to tell you anything about. And while it looks like manager Joe Maddon pulled some homerism by adding Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford, and Ben Zobrist to the team, all three of those guys are having huge years. And yes, if you’re scoring at home, Zobrist is the last All-Star ever, alphabetically speaking. The other big story is that of 42-year-old Tim Wakefield, who surprisingly has never been an All-Star until now. And congrats to the Royals for producing an actual All-Star this year, rather than their usual token “we gotta put someone on the team” guy.

The NL team is headlined by Albert Pujols, who received the second-most votes ever (only Ken Griffey Jr. got more, in 1994). At age 37, Raul Ibanez is an All-Star for the first time, and has been voted in as a starter. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s probably not going to be able to play. Nor is fellow outfielder Carlos Beltran. That means that reserves Hunter Pence and Brad Hawpe are likely to be out there when the game starts. No true no-name on the roster, as even Pittsburgh’s representative — Freddy Sanchez — is fairly deserving of his spot.

Full rosters can be found here. And there is now voting going on at MLB.COM for the final roster spots. Vote Kung Fu Panda!

Pablo Sandoval

(This fat man should be an All-Star)

• If you click on only one link today, read this story in the L.A. TIMES about Zac Sunderland, a 17-year-old kid who is nearing the end of a solo circumnavigation of the world on a sailboat. Pirates, broken sails on the open seas, armed police escorts in New Guinea. It’s safe to say he had a more eventful year than the rest of us.

Rasheed Wallace is going to be casting ill-advised 26-footers for the Celtics next year, meaning Big Baby Davis is probably on his way out. And Jason Kidd is about to get overpaid by Mark Cuban (enjoy 39-year-old Kidd at $8+ million in 2012, Dallas)

• POLITICO says that Sarah Palin’s lawyer has fired a warning shot to the media in order to squash lingering rumors that Palin awarded the contract for constructing a sports arena in Wasilla (where she was mayor at the time) with the understanding that the same company would build her a house. In other news, the Phoenix Coyotes have just announced they are moving to Wasilla.

• SPORTS RUBBISH has video of the most crucial moment in yesterday’s Wimbledon final. What? Tennis? No, it’s Andy Roddick’s brother searching for a snack inside his own nose:

• I gotta admit, I just don’t really get the Tour de France. One guy clearly won today, but somehow everyone except two guys (that’s like 178 people) were credited with the same time. Hey, but at least Jussi Veikkanen is finally wearing the red polka-dotted jersey!

• OK, there was something called the “Junior World Football Championships” going on for the last week, and you’re not going to believe this — but the USA won. Shocking, considering our boys had to take down the likes of France, Mexico, and Canada (which they did by a cumulative score of 174-3). Next time, in an effort to even the playing field and give other countries a fighting chance, the U.S. is just going to send Washington State’s football team instead (they might be able to beat Sweden).

Beavis would be excited by the news that a man in Scotland set a world record by running nearly 100 yards while on fire (and people complain that eating a bunch of hot dogs is bizarre?). And yes, I am aware that 1994 has called and wants its cultural reference back.

Man running on fire

Ryan Braun is an All-Star, which I guess gives him the green light to talk about how much the Brewers’ starting pitchers suck.

•  That fan who says J.C. Romero “assaulted” him at a Rays-Phillies game last week should be thrilled he doesn’t live in Colombia. There, the athletes just shoot and kill fans who heckle them.

• The city of St. Louis thinks it can tax the bonuses All-Stars receive for appearing in the game at Busch Stadium, but the POST-DISPATCH says that won’t fly if players can prove that their bonus was earned from their previous play outside of the city’s jurisdiction, and not for simply appearing at the game.

• Sure, losing 16-14 in the fifth set of the biggest tournament of your life is pretty brutal, but don’t feel too sorry for Andy Roddick. He has a pretty nice shoulder to cry on:

Brooklyn Decker

Would you rather have 15 Grand Slam titles, or have 1 and be married to Brooklyn Decker?

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Speed Read: Mets Make All The Stops, Prevail 1-0

In the long run, not only did Jerry Manuel’s latest brainstorm contribute to team unity, but it’s going to save the Mets a ton of money. On Tuesday following New York’s season-worst fifth straight loss, Manuel read the riot act to his underachieving minions in a closed-door meeting, and ended things by making an unexpected transportation demand. For their game on Wednesday against the Brewers, the team would eschew their separate taxi rides and travel together in the team bus.

Mike Pelfrey, David Wright, Carlos Beltran

Not sure how much hazing occurred in the back seat where the driver couldn’t see what was going on,  and … hey Beltran! Quit mooning those girls and get back in your seat! But the result on the field was positive, as the Mets prevailed 1-0 behind 7 2/3 scoreless innings from Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey, ironically, was the only player who missed Manuel’s mini-tirade the day before, having received permission to leave early to rest for Wednesday’s game.

Oh, don’t worry — they’re still the Mets. New York struck out 12 times against Yovani Gallardo (8-5). But Ryan Church’s one-out single in the sixth, which scored Luis Castillo, who had doubled, was the only offense needed. So New York (38-39) moved back within a game of .500, two games behind the first-place Phillies. The Mets head to Pittsburgh for a rainout makeup today before a weekend series at Philadelphia. That’ll be a long bus ride.

Meanwhile, check that Wimbledon ticket you just bought online — I’m pretty sure you’ve been duped. Andy MurrayMania has gripped this staid tennis event with a fervor, as tickets for Sunday’s men’s final are being offered for as much as £20,000 each on some sites. I’m not sure what that is in American money — a million bucks? — but it’s a freaking lot for tennis. Of course it’s all because Murray is British, and someone from those shores hasn’t won Wimbledon in 73 years (down with the Kaiser! Where’s the Titanic? It’s overdue!). Murray, a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal victor over Juan Carlos Ferrero, could be on his way to his first grand-slam title.

His semifinal today against sixth seed Andy Roddick could set up a final against Roger Federer, which even I would watch.

Fans have been queueing outside Wimbledon for 48 hours to get their hands on tickets for the semi-finals and final, while agencies report that demand is up four-fold. But the prices are higher than ever, with a pair of quarter-final tickets for Murray’s Centre Court match yesterday, worth £170, selling for £6,100.

With the avalanche of demand has come the threat of fraud. Wimbledon authorities are investigating bogus websites charging thousands of pounds for tickets that do not exist. One site under investigation — onlinewimbledontickets.com — is almost a replica of the official Wimbledon website, in the familiar green-and-purple livery, offering Centre Court tickets for the final at £2,499.

A Romanian businessman, who paid more than £11,000 online, is among more than 50 victims, mainly from mainland Europe. The website, with telephone numbers in London and Ireland, takes the money online but does not deliver the tickets. Their phone lines were dead yesterday.

And now for something completely different. It always pays to read the fine print, as a Twin Cities sportswriter has learned after mistaking the blog Sir Charles In Charge as being authored by the actual Charles Barkley. ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS writer Don Seeholzer attributed an item on the blog to Barkley, writing that Sir Charles was promoting Del Harris as the next head coach of the Timberwolves. Actually Barkley has nothing to do with the site, as it states in the disclaimer.

Charles Barkley at American Century

(”Is that a blog, or a duck? Damn, I’m confused.”)

The main reason I mention this is because I happen to know that Barkley just recently learned what the word “blog” means, and he certainly won’t be starting one anytime soon. I followed Barkley for the duration of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe last year, blogging about his game for NBC SPORTS. Just before the first round on the first day, I approached him to let him know what I was doing. His response: “What’s a blog?”

On the third day, Barkley was telling everyone who would listen: “This guy says he’s blogging my game. I don’t know what a blog is, but it don’t sound good.”

That was a mere 12 months ago. I doubt that he’s become the next Will Leitch in the meantime.

And now, links to peruse as you lament the demise of your neighborhood bikini fireworks stand:

  • You may think that Shaquille O’Neal’s arrival in Cleveland won’t make that much of a difference, but Vegas types tend to disagree. Bodog.com has just installed the Cavaliers as co-favorites with the Lakers to win the NBA title, both at 9/4. Bodog had Cleveland at 3/1 on June 15. Rounding out the top five are the Celtics (5/1), Magic (6/1) and Spurs (11/1). Once again I shall slap down a ten-spot on my Golden State Warriors, at 100/1.
  • Oh, and Bodog’s pick to win Saturday’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest: Joey Chestnut at 2/3 (Takeru Kobayashi is second at 6/5, Tim “Eater” Janus third at 12/1). Over-under on hot dogs consumed: 61 1/2.
  • Attention, Scott Boras: Eric Whitfield, 12, son of former major leaguer Terry Whitfield, had four home runs in four at-bats and also pitched two innings of perfect relief to lead his Hillsborough (Calif.) Little League All-Star team to a 17-0 win over Redwood City National on Wednesday. Hillsborough has won four of the past five District 52 All-Star titles (district play being the first rung on the ladder toward the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.).
  • Unfortunately, America is apparently not yet ready to see a video of Chris Cooley burning the body of a dead horse which he found on his property. After much soul-searching, Cooley decided not to post it on his blog. Even though “the video is amazing! I spent over an hour today putting it together and it is one of my finest works, one that my kids will look back on and cherish. So for now, I’m sad.” As always, the comments are the best part.
  • Jessica Simpson, Tiger Woods, Tony Romo

  • And speaking of celebrity golf, here’s your Jessica Simspon, Tony Romo, Tiger Woods fix for the week. It’s the opening ceremony of the AT&T National on Wednesday in Bethesda, Md., whee! Also on hand were Bruce Boudreau, Jason Campbell, Antwaan Randle El, Rock Cartwright, Shaun Suisham and Leon Harris. Thanks for the photos from Dan Steinberg at DC SPORTS BOG, who also noted that “Some wise soul managed to write “Go Redskins” in Romo’s yardage book, which was one of the better moments of the day.” Jessica also favored all in attendance with a tune.
  • OK, that starting position for Blake Griffin seems to be open now. On Wednesday the Clippers agreed to trade power forward Zack Randolph to the Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson, according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES. The deal can’t be finalized until July 8, when the league establishes the salary cap.
  • The Dallas Mavericks are preparing to offer Jason Kidd $25 million over three years, according to ESPN. The Knicks may also be ready to offer a three-year deal, although for what amount, it isn’t certain.
  • OK, some hockey news. Fine. Marian Gaborik, the finest athlete with a Marian-sounding name since Marion Morrison, agreed to a five-year deal with the Rangers for $7.5 million per year.
  • Prepare for the lovefest surrounding the return of drug cheat misunderstood genius Manny Ramirez, who returns to the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup on Friday night in San Diego. LA went 29-21 without him, and are seven games up on the second-place Giants. Why not stop by Petco and give him a standing ovulation … er, I mean, ovation?

Will you be glad to see Manny back in Dodger blue?

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Ultimate Warrior Goes Wacko On The Late Jacko

• The Ultimate Warrior is nice enough to add his two ultimate cents on the dearly departed Michael Jackson.

Ultimate Warrior Michael Jackson

Christian Laettner is being sued by Shawne Merriman. CL better get a good lawyer and an even better bodyguard.

• A Texas Longhorns lineman learns the hard way why you shouldn’t text & drive by plowing into a co-ed’s apartment.

• An Aussie rugby coach is serious enough about drunken behavior on his team that he fines himself $10,000 for stumbling into the wrong hotel room.

Larry Johnson shows he can treat the ladies right by buying some gals in Vegas a really big champagne bottle.

Read more…

Daniela H. Completes SI Swimsuit Tennis Trifecta

Last week, we presented some photographic proof of Maria Kirilenko & Tatiana Golovin taking off their tennis dresses for some good ol’ fashioned Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoots. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge that there was a third tennis temptress who put down her racket and put on a bikini: Daniela Hantuchova.

Daniela Hantuchova

Sadly, the Slovak sweetie’s sojourn in this year’s Wimbledon came to an abrupt end with a 6-3, 6-1 shellacking at the hands of Serena Williams. But let us not dwell on such disappointment for Daniela. Maybe some more hot shots of Hantuchova will cheer us all up:

Read more…

Closing Time: Wimbledon Fans Cheer New Roof

Let the record show that the fourth-round match between Amelie Mauresmo and  top-ranked Dinara Safina became the first Wimbledon matchup that God was not allowed to watch. The second half of it, anyway. The contest, led by Mauresmo 6-4, 1-4, was halted by light rain, prompting the closure of Wimbledon’s new retractable roof (chorus of angel voices here).

There are some things that just don’t seem right: What’s next, ice hockey at Wrigley Field?* The court was initially covered with a green tarp in case the rain subsided so play could resume. But All England Club officials quickly decided to shut the roof, which is making its debut this year atop the stadium built in 1922. Not only did fans cheer the roof, but when the floodlights came on, that too drew applause. Tennis is weird. Read more…

Cuter Competitors Get Wimbledon’s Centre Court

Earlier this week, we reported how tennis commentator Michael Stich ruffled a few feathers when he, um, commented about how women players at Wimbledon are there to “sell sex” (well, not literally). Although it sounds sexist & unfair, it seems there’s a kernel of truth to his statement. And maybe not just a kernel, but a whole bag of Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn.

Victoria Azarenka Sorana Cirstea

(Victoria Azarenka vs. Sorana Cirstea - low Wimbledon rankings, but high Wimbledon ratings)

Turns out that when selecting which match-ups will play at Wimbledon’s Centre Court, it’s not always the higher-seeded ladies that get to play in the main arena. Instead, it’s the lower-seeded cuties that are often the ones courted to take Centre stage.

Read more…

Wimbledon Not An Ideal Place For Grass Allergies

If you’re born with a stutter, don’t go into public speaking. If you’re born without hands and feet, don’t go into MMA. And if you’re allergic to grass, maybe professional tennis player isn’t the job for you.

Viktor Troicki

Viktor Troicki is allergic to grass, and not in the Rafael-Nadal-is-only-good-on-clay sense. As if having to play national hero Andy Murray in front of a partisan audience today isn’t enough, the court itself is actively trying to kill him. How will he cope? How will he survive? Finally, some drama in tennis.

Read more…