Inside the US Open Salon, Where Tennis Champs Get Glammed Up Before Matches

Aug 26, 2014 7:34pm

The world’s top tennis players, from Roger Federer to Maria Sharapova, are not only superior athletes but brands unto themselves, and part of being a brand is looking good, even during a sweaty hours-long battle on center court.

When these big names hit the salon at the annual U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, N.Y., the stylist many of them come to see is Julien Farel.

“It’s about looking good,” Farel told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis, noting that professional athletes have become icons and celebrities.

“They must look great. So hair, clothes, makeup, everything [has] to work,” he said.

Farel has even doubled as a good-luck charm. He cut Rafael Nadal’s hair before he won one of his U.S. Open titles.

“Two days ago I got Andy Murray for the first time and he said, ‘What is so particular with your haircuts?’ I said, ‘You might win the tournament,’” Farel said.

Heading into the tournament, Ana Ivanovic said Farel trimmed her locks and gave her “sunkissed” highlights, noting it was the first time in her life she had ever had her hair colored.

“We compete and we are tough on court, but off-court, and also on-court, we want to be feminine, we want to still be woman, and beauty is such a big part of that,” the Serbian tennis champion said. “I think that’s the first thing someone notices, is your hair, your appearance, so it’s important to look good.”

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Tennis champion Ana Ivanovic (right) shows off her new haircut styled by Julien Farel (center), to ABC's Rebecca Jarvis (left) at the 2014 US Open in Queens. N.Y.

Before her first match, Jelena Jankovic got her nails done and said she waited to get her hair cut until she got to the tournament so that Farel, who cut her long brown locks up to her shoulders a few days ago, could do it.

“I just wanted a change,” Jankovic said. “I had long hair for so long and I just wanted a nice short cut. It’s nice. I look younger.”

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Stylist to the tennis stars Julien Farel works on tennis champion Jelena Jankovic's hair at the 2014 US Open in Queens. N.Y.

This Grand Slam tournament means big money — bigger than the Super Bowl. U.S. Open winners take home $3 million each, compared to $92,000 paid out per NFL player who wins a Super Bowl. Last year, U.S. Open spectators and athletes generated an estimated $720 million of economic activity in the New York City area, compared to the $430 million the Super Bowl is expected to bring in when it comes to MetLife Stadium at East Rutherford, New Jersey, in February. The U.S. Open is a two-week tournament, whereas the Super Bowl is a one-day event.

So it seems getting glammed up before taking center court is just another part of loving the game.


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