The Australian Open's player ride-along promotion, Kia Open Drive 2013, turned in another share of amusing if not vocally astounding karaoke performances this time around the block. Pros who took part included freshly crowned men's doubles champs Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, Jelena Jankovic, Fernando Verdasco, Janko Tipsarevic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Varvara Lepchenko, Fabio Fognini, Alize Cornet, Martina Hingis, Mats Wilander, and Henri Leconte. (More on Leconte here, "saved" by Dr. Djokovic.) See the "greatest hits" clip here:
The Spin's favorite parts: Jankovic, ever scratchy-voiced, saying, "Oh my god, can you tell I have a terrible voice?" and then Hingis giving a nod to Serena Williams, saying at the end, "Well, take Serena next time; she's a great, great karaoke singer."
Who's your favorite here?
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Elsewhere, this was an intriguing read to rise from the ashes of Maria Sharapova's 6-2, 6-2 loss to Li Na in the Aussie Open women's semifinals: "Maria When She Loses." It zeroes in on the now-No. 3-ranked Russian, soccer great David Beckham, and the power of physical beauty among sports celebrities. Sample text: "With Sharapova, the image is not nearly so invincible. It wobbles. ... [Beckham is] secure inside what Pauline Kael, writing about Robert Redford, called 'immaculate self-absorption.' Sharapova makes it seem like a job, which is more interesting. At moments of difficulty or stress, when the circumstances are wrong or simply when she's not paying attention, the magazine gloss drops away and you see a human depth. She has higher priorities than her own attractiveness. She needs to win; she needs to be a winner. For that reason, it's fascinating to watch her lose."
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Also worth your time: Mashable's piece on the Australian Open's social media prowess. The lead-off Grand Slam event of the year—of every year—was formerly maligned or ignored by pro players, but it's all the more engaging at every level of involvement now, catalyzing vibrant player and fan experiences both on- and offline. As Mashable notes, the Aussie Open even set up a "help hotline" Twitter account to help visitors (especially foreigners or Australians not native to Melbourne) find their way around, something patterned after Super Bowl XLVI's social media command center that I had a hand in during February 2012 festivities in Indianapolis.
For what it's worth, here also is a breakdown (as of press time) of the four major tennis events' followings on Facebook and Twitter. By the measure of mere numbers, Wimbledon slays the competition, though active-follower engagement is another story, as it is for every commercial brand, media outlet, and individual person on social media.
Australian Open — Facebook: 894,396; Twitter: 156,613
French Open — Facebook: 573,503; Twitter: 219,248
Wimbledon — Facebook: 1,061,310; Twitter: 399,210
U.S. Open — Facebook: 746,364; Twitter: 190,573
Many more ways are available to analyze this data, and more pertinent figures relating to the reach and effects of social media for tournaments, and the smaller ones on the season schedule. It's a moving target, always, but it's one that, from time to time, can be pinned down.
Did you engage with the professionals behind the Australian Open's Twitter accounts over these two weeks? What was your experience?
—Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9)