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Sloane Stephens Upsets Serena Williams At Australian Open But American Media Hype Might Hurt Her Career.

Yes, Sloane Stephens a nineteen year old American upset the tennis legend Serena Williams 3-6 7-5 6-4  in the Australian Open women’s quarterfinals. However, Serena was clearly injured she hurt her back in the middle of the second set and had back spasms. Stephens deserves credit for pulling off the upset although she almost let the match slip away when she had a 5-3 lead in the second set. Stephens did well to win, but the Americans have a tendency to hype up young talent. Does anyone remember Melanie Oudin from 2009? The USA media hyped Oudin, saying she’s the next Chris Evert yet the girl never was ranked in the top 30. By the way, Oudin lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Laura Robson a talented young British player. Jennifer Capriati was also hyped by the USA press back in the 1990s due to her early promise. However, when Capriati was unable to reach a grand slam final while in her teens she turned to drug use and shop lifting. Only, when Capriati left the WTA Tour and decided to make a comeback did she live up to her potential.

I am not knocking Sloane Stephens, I think the girl is clearly very talented. I am just concerned that the American media are going to put too much pressure on this young girl. Stephens has not won a WTA Tour event, she hasn’t even reached a WTA Tour final yet either. Stephens is good, and she deserves time to mature and live up to her talent.


Surprising Result: Nadia Petrova Upsets Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0 1-6 6-3 & Wins WTA Event In Tokyo Japan!

Well this is a surprise, Nadia Petrova of Russia upsets the world number three Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-0 1-6 6-3 and wins the WTA title in Tokyo Japan. Petrova is thirty years old and a very talented player but she always lacked the mental toughness. Petrova has a huge serve, powerful groundstrokes, volleys well, and she is a solid doubles player.  Petrova doesn’t move very well on the court and her fitness is not at the highest level.

Sometimes Petrova is mentally fragile but she held it together mentally to win the biggest title of her career.

Agnieszka had a solid week, but I believe she needs to develop some weapons. If Agnieszka is going to breakthrough and win a grand slam she needs to improve her second serve. I also think Agnieszka needs to take more chances on the court and go for more winners.

Billboard Magazine Interview: Pop Star Christina Aguilera Talks About Her Divorce, New Album & Departing From NBC`s The Voice.

Christina Aguilera: Billboard Cover Story

by Andrew Hampp  |   September 21, 2012 2:35 EDT
<p>Christina Aguilera</p>

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Christina Aguilera

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Christina Aguilera hasn’t felt this way in a decade. The singer is reflecting on the eventful two years leading up to the release of her fifth studio album, “Lotus,” from her home in Los Angeles — a period that heralded the commercial disappointment of her album “Bionic”; a divorce from husband Jordan Bratman; the release of her first movie, “Burlesque,” and its accompanying soundtrack; her highly successful stint as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice” and accompanying appearance on Maroon 5′s mega-hit “Moves Like Jagger.”

The last time she felt so inspired, the result was 2002′s Stripped-a creative breakthrough that helped distance Aguilera from her teen-pop peers and produced memorable hits like “Beautiful,” “Dirrty” and “Fighter.”

Enrique Badulescu Photography
Christina Aguilera + Billboard

Due Nov. 13 on RCA, “Lotus” refers to the “rebirth” Aguilera underwent both personally and professionally, opting not to work with longtime songwriting partners like Linda Perry in favor of such newer collaborators as Alex Da Kid, Sia, Candice Pillay and even pop maestro Max Martin, on first single “Your Body,” which hit radio and iTunes last week and bows at No. 33 on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart this week.

Like on Stripped, Aguilera dips into many genres-from dance-pop on “Your Body” and “Make the World Move” (a duet with fellow “Voice” coach Cee Lo Green), piano-driven power ballads (“Sing for Me,” Sia collaboration “Blank Page”) and rock-tinged empowerment anthems (“Army of Me,” “Cease Fire”). The album even opens with a quick sample of M83′s “Midnight City” on the title track, an experimental table-setter where Aguilera resolves to “leave the past behind/Say goodbye to the scared child inside.”

Alex Da Kid, who first teamed with Aguilera for 2010′s “Castle Walls” on T.I.’s No Mercy, worked with Aguilera on several Lotus cuts with songwriter Pillay, many of which were recorded at her home studio. “I’ve worked with big and smaller people, and the more established people can get stuck in their ways and say they’re not open to critique,” Alex Da Kid says. “She definitely had a strong opinion, but she’ll go with the best idea in the room. That’s really rare for someone that’s had so much success.”

With Aguilera more or less based on the West Coast for the entire period leading up to Lotus’ release to finish taping the current season of “The Voice,” that means an aggressive Los Angeles-based promotional schedule during the next few months-with expected stops on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” as well as prominent use of “The Voice” to premiere the video for “Your Body” and a performance during album release week.

“Nobody knows better than Christina that success doesn’t come from simply having the voice, but from believing and trusting in that voice,” “Voice” producer Mark Burnett says. “That knowledge and experience makes her an incredibly nurturing coach, and one who not only challenges her artists, but encourages and inspires them to challenge themselves.”

“I have no time to even watch my own show.
So there’s your answer.”

- On whether she’ll watch Britney Spears on “The X Factor”

“The Voice” is winning the music-competition show race and beating “The X Factor” in the ratings. But as the show shifts into full-year production, the singer confirmed that she would be taking a break for season four, set to air next spring, with Shakira filling in her chair and Usher taking that of Cee Lo Green. She’s anxious to go back out on the road for the first time since 2007′s Back to Basics tour, having canceled 2010′s Bionic tour due in part to poor ticket sales. “It’s been a joy to be a part of other people’s journey, to be able to inspire and be a part of new singers coming up in this business,” she says. “But I was starting to get really worried and concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to go and be an artist again.

“Mark made it very clear that these chairs are always our chairs,” she continues. “He said, ‘I understand the only reason the show’s going to work is if it doesn’t get stale.’ And he totally understood that I needed something to fulfill my creative soul, and said, ‘This chair will always be yours to come back to whenever you do what makes you the best.’”

However long Lotus keeps her away from “The Voice,” it likely won’t be permanent. “I’ll probably be back. I just need to do my thing for a minute, then I can come back and be that much better of a coach. I just need a second to get back to me.”

Billboard spoke with Aguilera — who’s keynoting the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference, to be held Oct. 24-25 — on the eve of a live Twitter Q&A where she officially announced the details around “Lotus.”

“Lotus” is an evocative title for your new album, given the events in your career and personal life during the past two years. What does that name signify to you?

This album represents a celebration of the new me, and to me the lotus has always represented this unbreakable flower that withstands any harsh weather conditions in its surroundings, that withstands time and remains beautiful and strong throughout the years. Once I could start writing my own songs, beginning with Stripped, I tried to infuse as much as I could to promote strength and inspire people with that message. And now I’m at a place at 31, where the last time I felt this way was when I was 21 with Stripped and I had a lot to say and a lot to express.


Some of the songs on Lotus are thematically similar to “Stripped,” too. Was that intentional?

Absolutely. There’s a song called “Army of Me,” which is sort of a “Fighter 2.0.” There is a new generation of fans from a younger demographic that might not have been with me all the way but that watch me on the show now. I feel like every generation should be able to enjoy and have their piece of “Fighter” within. This time, the way it musically came together it just felt right for this time and this generation. There’s always going to be a fighter in me getting through some obstacle and some hurdle.


Enrique Badulescu Photography
Christina Aguilera + Billboard


“Lotus” is also a return to putting your vocals front and center in a way that you didn’t always do on Bionic in 2010. What did you learn from that experience?

With Bionic I fully went in there with [the idea], “I’m going to experiment and not be commercial or pop.” I wanted to play with different sounds and textures of my voice while bringing an electronica feel to it because that’s what I was listening to a lot at the time. And it was a blast.


Were you disappointed with how it was received?

I can proudly say it was ahead of its time, to be honest. It wasn’t so commercialized. You had to really be a music lover, be a true fan of music and the love of being open to really appreciate that record. It’s just a special piece in my body of work that will forever live on. The older the record gets the more people will come to appreciate it actually and check it out.


How has your experience with “The Voice” influenced you as a performer?

Seeing all the singers, you really come face to face with a lot of people-my teammates especially this season that you’ll get to know-that are predominantly younger. That’s inspiring, because they come up to you and they’re such big fans and they share with you what song touched them the most and how they had to learn every single ad lib and dissect it. As a vocalist it brought me back to, “Yeah, that’s what I used to do to my Whitney Houston record and my Mariah Carey record and my Etta James record.” It brings you back to a place where it becomes your personal responsibility to infuse the next generation with more information about learning every intricate note. That’s why a song called “Sing for Me” is special song. It’s one of those singer’s songs where if you’re not a vocalist you can’t mess with that song.


“Your Body” marks your first time working with Max Martin, which is surprising to a lot of people given the teen-pop era where you got your start.

[laughs] Max is legendary in the business. He’s known about me but we haven’t crossed paths. I think when I came in you heard his name with Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears — those records were the kind I wanted to stray apart from. If you look at what I did in the past [after my debut], I always try to do things that will challenge me and challenge the listener, too. Could this have worked 10 years ago? I’m not sure. It’s taken us a decade in the same business and watching each other from a distance, so for us to now come together and respect each other’s work ethic and how we like to be heard and making a marriage out of it, I think “Your Body” is the best culmination of that.


You’ve expressed interest in taking a break from “The Voice” in the near future. When might that open your schedule for a tour?

We’re still trying to figure that out. My fans do deserve to see me back out on the road. It’ll be exciting for me. The road is a lot of work. I want to make sure the timing is right and that I’m fully ready to go, otherwise I would have to pull tickets if I’m not feeling it. I want to press the fact that I want to be feeling it before I go out.


Going back to the current season of “The Voice,” what’s been exciting for you so far?

I’m actually very excited about this season in particular. It’s absolutely the most young and full-of-hungry-energy group we’ve had yet-this little next generation of future pop stars. Last year I had a different team as far as different genres, but this year it so happened to come together that they were all pop.


One of your contestants from last season, Chris Mann, will be the first season-two alum to release an album this year. Will you be involved with that project?

Absolutely. He’s working with [Front Line Management Group consultant] Ron Fair, the man who signed me and is still a very, very dear friend of mine. I know he’s in totally safe hands and in great hands musically. Ron Fair really gets it and gets him. One of the songs was sent to me for my participation and I said, hands-down, “yes.” It’s a beautiful song, the way he’s expressing himself on the album-his tone, his richness, his soul. He’s not overdoing it, just coming through strong, clear and rich. I’m very happy for him.


Beyond the technical aspects of executing a melisma, what are some career pointers you’ve been able to hand down to your own artists on “The Voice”?

A lot of these kids are coming from their own kinds of dance and arts schools, which is just like what the Mouseketeers was for obviously me and Britney and Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling-need I say more? We all come from that training camp mentality, but then it was a matter of us to be able to absorb everything, take it all in and now throw it all away. That’s what I’m trying to teach those kids. Everything can’t be so structured, so learned or taught. You guys have an individual self in all of you.


Speaking of Britney, will you be watching “The X Factor”?

[Laughs] I have no time to even watch my own show. So there’s your answer.

Time Magazine Article:”Queen of Erotica” Zane On How Fifty Shades Affects the Sexy-Book Scene.

“I just write stories.”
By ANDREA SACHS | August 1, 2012 | 30
Click here to find out more!
Hilsdon Photography

The author Zane

When it comes to bestselling erotica, Zane has been a trailblazer. The 44-year-old, Washington, D.C.–based author had sold more than 5 million copies of her books worldwide before anyone had heard of  Fifty Shades of Grey. While E.L. James, the author of the latter book, dropped an atom bomb this year on the competition (30 million copies sold worldwide in four months), Zane was indisputably there first. She is known as the queen of urban erotica, famous for its no-holds-barred, raw sexuality, juicier even than more restrained-by-comparison books such as Fifty Shades, a genre which has been labeled as “Mommy Porn” by critics.

Zane, which is a pseudonym (it means “God’s precious gift”), first made her name writing sexy stories on her AOL website, until the company shut it down because of its X-rated content. As her far-flung fans (sometimes known as “Zaniacs”) spread the word, her reputation grew so large that three major publishers pursued her with book contracts. Concerned about demands to tamp down her writing, she initially self-published her work, selling more than 100,000 copies of her first novel, Addicted, in 2001. But finally she cast her lot with Simon & Schuster, and the rest is mainstream publishing history. She has had 14 New York Times bestsellers, in addition to writing and producing a hit Cinemax series, Zane’s Sex Chronicles, and maintaining a hugely popular website,, which features conversations for the “grown and sexy.”

Zane’s steamy first novel, Addicted, which stars Zoe Reynard, a successful married businesswoman who is juggling three lovers, has just been republished. And her beyond-X-rated anthology of other writers, Z-Rated: Chocolate Flava, will be published in August. We caught up with the prolific author by phone on her vacation in North Carolina, gearing up for a book tour that will begin later this month.

TIME: No unpublished writer ever turns down a book contract. Why did you?

ZANE: I had a feeling that if I did this, it was going to be big. Something just told me, and it would eventually end up altering my life. And I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted.

How did you find out that you had a talent for writing erotica?

It’s so funny—I never set out to write erotica…both of my parents are retired educators, so reading was very strong in our house. … I always had a very vivid imagination. All of my teachers always told me that I was going to grow up to be a writer, but I never really believed it, or paid that much attention to it.

Then suddenly, when I was living here in Kannapolis, North Carolina, I got bored enough to start playing around with writing. I wrote one short story, and at the time I was, believe it or not, I was my father’s research assistant for Duke Divinity School. [Her father, a minister, was a well-known religious scholar.] I would be doing my work, and then I discovered AOL, and started hanging out in chat rooms. So I wrote a story, and in the chat room, I came up with the name Zane. I wasn’t going to say my real name, so that’s sort of how Zane was born. It was never about being a writing name.

Anyway, I wrote this one short story called “First Night.” I didn’t know it was erotic; I just wrote a romantic story. And I sent it out to four or five people I had met in the chat room. They sent it out to a bunch of other people, and the next thing you know, I started getting emails from all these people, like “That’s the hottest thing I’ve ever read!”; “Have you written anything else?”; “I want to be on your mailing list.” Honestly, I thought it was all funny. I put a couple other stories up, and within three weeks, I had 8,000 hits by word-of-mouth alone, before AOL took it down because of the content!

(MOREAll-TIME 100 Novels)

After you  successfully published your own work, you started hearing again from New York City publishers.

Publishers started contacting me, and saying, “You’re one of the best writers we’ve ever read, and we’ll offer you a deal today, but we need to tone you down.”

What did your parents think at this point?

They had no idea I was doing any of this. My parents didn’t know for about five years.

Were you astonished by what happened to Fifty Shades of Grey?

I wouldn’t say that I was astonished by it. I think that it was very good marketing: being on the right shows, and getting the right media outlets. I’m very happy for the author. But clearly it’s not the first time erotica has gone mainstream. Even if you take me out of the equation, Sex in the City is a multi-billion-dollar brand.

You got there earlier, theme-wise—why did the author get so much attention for the book?

Well, I’ve never been on the Today Show. (Laughs.) I’ve had three documentaries done about me. I’ve had my picture hanging up in galleries—my picture just left the Smithsonian [it was part of an exhibit called The Black List, which featured celebrities of color.] Swiss Public Television did a documentary about me years ago called Zane, Queen of Erotica. Honestly, I don’t know.

(MOREKurt Andersen on His New Novel, the Generation Gap and Pyromania)

I’ve heard a lot of romance and woman’s fiction writers say that they don’t get enough acknowledgment for what they do.  Is that what’s going on? It sounds like you’ve gotten a lot of acknowledgment, too, but is there some you haven’t gotten?

Of course, it would be nice to get it, because I’ve worked very hard for 15 years. I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished. It honestly was never my purpose to be famous, which is why I don’t write under my real name. I enjoy what I do.

Do you feel you have a lot in common with other African-American writers — a sense of being part of a group?

I am African-American, but I don’t write books specifically for African Americans… I just write stories. Honestly, for a lot of African American writers, we don’t get the exposure, in different chain stores for example. Those of us who have consistently been New York Times bestsellers, when our new books come out, they’re not at the end of the stand with James Patterson and John Grisham and Stephen King, all of whom at one point or another I have beaten on the New York Times list. The same thing goes for Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey. You go in an airport store, it’s very hard to see our books. I feel like, in a way, it has hindered me, simply because I’m not getting as much exposure as Caucasian authors are getting. It is what it is. I’m very happy with what I’ve done. And I do have a big crossover audience, I do know that…. When I do book signings, it isn’t just black people who come. I mean, I have white men come to my signings and say I’m their favorite author.

Do you think people underestimate how much women like erotica?

I think that it’s still very much a taboo subject, particularly in this country. One thing I am happy about is that people will be, hopefully, with Fifty Shades of Grey, be more accepting of the fact that women can appreciate erotica. I will say that my stuff is a lot steamier! (Laughs.)

(MOREBrontë Bondage: Classic Literature Gets 50 Shades of Grey Treatment)

Are people surprised that the steamy books are coming from a woman and not a man?

Yes, there are still people who think I’m a man. There was actually a man masquerading as me at book-signings and at book clubs! He even did a book signing in Jamaica.

Have critics or censors ever given you a hard time because of all of the sex?

I honestly don’t listen to the criticisms. I knew going in that I was going to have my critics. For me, I’m just doing what I must do, what I’m passionate about. I use sex as a segue to deal with a lot of deeper issues. I don’t feel like I am a sex writer or even an erotica writer. I would describe myself as a very detailed writer who does not tone down her sex scenes.

Anything sexual you won’t write about?

There are definite things I wouldn’t write about or publish: pedophilia, bestiality. The obvious stuff.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you: have you lived out these fantasies?

Some of them. (Laughs.)

Read more:

Olympics Controversy: Dawn Harper & Kellie Wells Say Media Focusing Too Much Attention On Lolo Jones!!!

Lolo Jones is the Anna Kournikova of track and field she receives a lot of press and has endorsements because she basically exploits her sexuality.

Jones prostitutes herself by selling her sexuality in order to make cash because she knows she’s not the best on the track.

However, at the Olympics Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells of the United States won the silver and bronze medals in the 10o meter women’s hurdles event. Jones finished in fourth place off the podium. Australian Sally Pearson won the 100 meter women’s hurdles in 12.35 seconds she is the dominant woman in this event. The general public wouldn’t know that Harper and Pearson are superior to Lolo Jones due to the media hype.

After Jones lost she complained on the NBC Today show that the New York Times should not attack her because she’s American. Jones deserves the criticism because she’s not the best hurdler in the world.

The mainstream media are attempting to frame Harper and Wells are jealous women who resent Lolo Jones because of her fame.

Beneath the surface, the real resentment that Harper and Wells have for Jones is about black and white America’s obsession with mixed race women. Jones is considered more marketable than Harper and Wells because she’s half white. A female athlete has to conform to the white beauty image in order to make a lot of money. Since Jones looks closer to the white image of femininity she garners more media attention.

Since darker skinned black women are devalued by both white and black America Harper and Wells have a right to speak out against the subliminal racism and sexism.

Harper and Wells were honest they didn’t play the game of trying to pretend they liked Lolo Jones. Harper and Wells comments were refreshing in the end they will be in the history books for winning their Olympic medals not Lolo Jones.


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