Monday, November 12, 2007

Tennis Stars: Now With Harder Bodies

SHANGHAI – Andy Roddick has the body of a warrior. A Terracotta Warrior to be exact.

The hard bodies of the top eight players in tennis have become even harder, thanks to a woman named Laury Dizengremel. The French sculptor has immortalized the pros in the forms of Terracotta Warriors.

As the tennis players battle it out at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, the tournament will be guarded by these warriors built in the likenesses of all eight qualifiers of the event. The project, commissioned by the Association of Tennis Professionals, is the first large-scale project of its kind.

“The first Tennis Terracotta Warrior was Roger Federer. It took about two weeks to create that first 'master' body,” explains Dizengremel. “Then we made a mould and used that to cast the further 8 bodies which we did over a period of 6 weeks.”

Federer, who often has issues playing on clay, had no problem being sculpted in it.

“I think that being sculpted as a Terracotta Warrior is an honor,” said Federer. “I think the idea is fun, bringing together culture and sport”

The original Terracotta Warriors were created between 246 – 210 BC to be buried alongside the Emporer of Qin, Shi Huangdi with the purpose of helping Shi Huangdi rule another empire in the afterlife. With 8,099 of the figures recovered, the ancient clay warriors vary in height and features depending on rank and it has been said to have taken 700,000 workers and 38 years to complete the figures and the emperor's mausoleum.

With the help of husband and wife sculpture team Shen Xioanan and Zhang Yaxi, Dizengremel worked day and night to have the figures done in time for the Masters, which began Sunday.

“Normally creating a larger than life bust can take anywhere between a few days to a week,” explains Dizengremel” “We had to do some of these in a day.”

Federer's modern sculpture is accompanied by the rest of the Masters field, including American fan favorite Andy Roddick. While all of the tennis pros had a positive reaction to the final product, Roddick was the only one who requested a do-over. His original figure did not have a baseball cap, a detail that Roddick feels is part of his image.

"Roddick made the change. Originally it was without a baseball cap because it cast a shadow on the face," Shen said of Roddick's statue.

Serbian tennis cutie Novak Djokovic was excited to see how he would look as a warrior.

“Reaching the Master's Cup in Shanghai is a great achievement,” said Djokovic, “and seeing my head on the sculpture of a warrior is obviously a great thing.”

The figures tower over their human inspirations, measuring 2.2 meters tall. Although most of the tennis pros' heads were easy to sculpt, some features proved more difficult than others. One star even got an unplanned makeover.

“Vidovic's hair,” laughs Dizengremel. “If I had to do it over again in more time, I’d do it more accurately. I owe him an apology as I took liberties because of the tight deadline and gave him a radically different look!”

The tennis Warriors, who wield rackets as weapons, were unveiled for battle at the opening of the tournament on Sunday. Pictures of the Warriors can be found here. It has not been decided what will be done with the sculptures at the end of the Masters Cup.