The women who changed the aesthetics of tennis

From Victorian dresses to the Williams sisters. Who revolutionized women’s tennis?

Corsets, busts, skirts that touched the ground. Women’s tennis in the Victorian era left no room for creativity and freedom of expression. However, time has radically changed the idea of women’s tennis outfits. This change is the result of unique moments, of some figures who have bravely decided to break social and visual taboos, trampling the grass of Wimbledon and the courts of the Slams dressed in novelty, rebellion, evolution.

Here we have decided to list some of the women capable of changing the imaginary of sportswear, often running into criticism and boycotts: idealists driven by a feminist wind, by a progressive current. Athletes who have raised their sport not only with the racket.

Suzanne Lenglen

The French ‘Divine’ who dominated tennis in the 1920s, winning 25 Grand Slam titles, one Olympic gold medal in Antwerp and losing only 7 career games. She was the first female tennis celebrity. She was an inexhaustible magnet of attention for the French and international press: her revolutionary game, her passion for the glamorous world and the moody intensity shown on the court, led the large masses to follow women’s tennis.

In particular, in the grand white gala of Wimbledon 1920, Lenglen surprised organizers and spectators with a dress that left the forearms and calves uncovered: an incomprehensible choice for the time. At that London tournament, the ‘Divine’ was also observed drinking brandy at the end of each set.

She stopped playing when she was just 27: “In the twelve years I was a champion I earned millions of francs, and I spent all the money just to travel and play tournaments. I didn’t earn a cent from my career, from tennis. According to absurd and antiquated ideas, only a rich person can compete at a high level. Does this seem right to you?”, these were her laconic words.

Gussie Moran

Moran was a player certainly far from Lenglen’s extraordinary results. This Californian athlete is crystallized in sporting history for a particular crossover that took place at Wimbledon ’49.

The American athlete, then 26, asked the famous designer Ted Tinling to design the first short dress in the history of women’s tennis. Strictly white, as required by Wimbledon regulations, Moran’s dress was created to highlight her sporty panties with lace cuffs.

It was a huge scandal, and the exhibition of the renamed ‘Gorgeous Gussie’ even reached the British Parliament. The first inspiring muse of Tinling, a genius also closely linked to the Italian Lea Pericoli, was accused by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club of having introduced “vulgarity and sin in tennis”.

Billie Jean King

Let’s go back to the tennis elite. We cannot avoid naming the immense Billy Jean King, winner of 78 WTA titles and, above all, a legendary figure in the fight against sexism both in society and in sport.

During the September 20, 1973 match played against Bobby Riggs, the most important of the three chapters of the tennis ‘Battle of the Sexes’ (recently transposed to the big screen), King wore a dress designed by the aforementioned Ted Tinling.

That outfit became a symbol of women’s tennis revenge: a revenge certified by King’s victory against Riggs, in front of over 30 thousand present and 90 million people in front of the television.

Anne White

Wimbledon, 1985 edition: when Anne White took a leap into the future. The American athlete showed up in the green temple of world tennis with a one-piece suit, branded Pony, entirely made of Lycra. The outfit enchanted audiences and photographers, and sparked a huge wave of controversy.

The match was stopped on an even set, as evening fell, and the referee ordered White to change clothes for the following day. White agreed to the request and lost the game. The photos of her ‘space’ suit, however, were published by all the major newspapers in the world.

Venus & Serena Williams

Another time jump, this time directly into the 21st century, where a pair of sisters was able to collect all these flashes from the past, to uniting them and to freeing the bodies of their colleagues from aesthetic preconceptions and demonizations.

Lingerie and colors, personality and elegance, Reebok and Nike: this is how Venus and Serena have definitively broken down the wall of tennis visual orthodoxy, elevating the concepts of freedom and athletic femininity, embellishing them with over 300 (combined) weeks spent at the top of the WTA rankings.

Atypical and iconic, like their path, which began in the difficult Compton area: a long march between stereotypes and prejudices.


5 must-see boxing movies

The most fascinating biographies of the ring narrated by the seventh art

We decided to pay homage to the noble art of the ring, an art capable of creating fascinating human and sporting stories. Stories that have inspired great directors and some of the brightest masterpieces of the big screen. We selected 5 of them, drawing on contemporary and past cinematography: all these films are inspired by biographies of real boxers. Good vision.

The Hurricane

The film is based on the life of Rubin Carter: boxer played by a sublime Denzel Washington. In this film directed by Norman Jewison, Carter’s boxing ascent is described: a sporting ascent preceded and followed by a complex relationship with justice. Carter, accused of triple homicide at the height of his career, is the victim of an incredible mistrial. The boxer will prove his innocence only at the end of a very long legal and personal battle.

Raging Bull

A masterpiece by Martin Scorsese, with Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta. De Niro’s Oscar-winning interpretation reaches peaks of rare intensity, showing the brightest and darkest sides of the legendary Italian-American middleweight. Arguably the best sports film in history, this gem analyzes the demons and victories of the Bronx ‘Raging Bull’, and narrates his extreme life.

Bleed for This

A more recent film than the previous two, Bleed traces the life of Vinny Paz, the ‘Pazmanian Devil’: a former lightweights and superwelters world champion. The film revolves around the very serious car accident and the consequent injury that threatened to completely paralyze Cranston’s boxer. Paz succeeded in an impossible recovery, fighting against the limits imposed by medicine and by his own body.

The Fighter

A complex family fresco, a dramatic dependence, an intense fraternal bond. Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale play half-brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. Eklund has entered the whirlwind of crack after an excellent but short boxing career and tries to push his stepbrother to the top of the world boxing scene. However, a deleterious and destructive relationship is established between the two. The redemption, the rapprochement and the conquest of the WBU lightweight world title will come only at the end of a detention in prison and a very hard awareness.

Somebody upthere likes me

The novel life of Thomas Rocco Barbella, known as Rocky Graziano, is played by Paul Newman in this film produced in 1956. Thefts and fights, gangs and prison, army and ring: the human vortex of this legendary Italian-American boxer is the plot of this two Academy Award winning masterpiece.


Analog football is better

Sabi Singh explains how and why analog photography is conquering sport, again

The charm of the film, the charming effect of an action that is both past and present. It is the cyclical nature of photographic expression, it is the timeless power of analog shooting.

We asked Sabi Singh, a photographer immersed in the Analog Football and Analog Sport projects, to tell us how this practice is redefining contemporary visual-sporting standards. We added a gallery of his shots to his words. Good vision!

Why did you decide to use Analog photography to portray sport? How did you discover this photographic universe?

I think analog photography is perfect for sports, normally you should use a fast camera to photograph sports: with analog it’s the opposite, the process is slower, you have to take your time, and you’re somehow limited. I think analog + sports is perfect! I discovered analog photography thanks to Analog Sport project.

Could you tell us something about the Analog Football and the Analog Sport projects?

Analog Football is the first media dedicated to football film photography, it gathers a worldwide community passionate by football and analog photography. Analog Sport is a project which aims to train young people in film sports photography for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

What do you think are the positive sides of this kind of photography? And what are the difficulties?

The positive fact is that you have a lot of films, which means you have different results, and also that it’s a rewarding process (it’s great to see that you have nice pictures after waiting for the film processing + scanning). Analog photography also helps you with the composition, because you’re limited with 36 shots per film, so you will make sure that each shot is worth it. The downsides are probably the film and cameras prices that are rising so much.

In your pictures you alternate portraits of usual football and fashion football. What are you looking for in these two worlds that are close and, at the same time, distant from each other?

I’m just trying to show that football is everywhere. You don’t have to be in a football game in order to ‘represent it’. You can be everywhere, if you bring a kit or a ball… Football is there. I’m not good at turning my thoughts into words, that’s why I’m trying to show them with my pictures.

Football jerseys look like your favorite subjects. What strikes you about these objects? Do you think that analog shots can embellish the aesthetics of these sports fetishes?

Yes definitely, I think that analog + football jerseys is a beautiful combo. It has something special! I always say that an analog picture has more value than a digital one.

What is the most beautiful kit you photographed?

Hard question! I would say Italy ‘Renaissance’ kit, I need to do another photoshooting with this one. I would also add Norway away!

Sabi Singh
IG @sabsinghh

Text by Gianmarco Pacione


‘Uccio’ Salucci, con le moto e con i giovani non si scherza

Dall’infanzia con Valentino Rossi al Motor Ranch di Tavullia. Siamo entrati nel mondo del DS della VR46 Riders Academy

“Sono giovani, giovanissimi, e con i giovani non si scherza”

Parola di Alessio ‘Uccio’ Salucci, direttore sportivo della VR46 Riders Academy. Quando pronuncia questa frase si è appena staccato da un gruppo d’insistenti appassionati, bramosi di attingere dalla sua inesauribile fonte di conoscenza, di folklore motoristico, di segreti e indiscrezioni dal sapore d’asfalto.

È complesso, d’altronde, trovare persone che abbiano vissuto più in profondità di lui questo ambiente, è complesso trovare uomini in grado di lambire differenti ere motociclistiche sempre in prima fila, sempre al fianco di team e piloti.

È una figura alla vecchia maniera, ‘Uccio’, di quelli che trattano le due ruote come epicentro della propria vita.

Regala confidenza e sorrisi, romagnolo nei modi di fare e nel pensiero: un pensiero vorticoso, sempre in movimento, sempre concentrato sulle criptiche dinamiche di box e pista, sui vari pupilli da lanciare o già lanciati nel paradiso del Motomondiale.

La sua genuinità è temperata da una maturità trovata nel tempo, oggi particolarmente fondamentale per la gestione di giovani uomini dal talento innato.

“All’Academy la cura del lato umano è preponderante. Concentriamo la stragrande maggioranza delle nostre riunioni e delle nostre riflessioni su questo tema. All’inizio eravamo in due, tre persone. Ora siamo una ventina a gestire tutto quanto. Ai miei collaboratori ricordo sempre che abbiamo a che fare con ragazzi giovanissimi, a cui possiamo cambiare la vita sotto tutti i punti di vista: sportivamente, certo, ma anche a livello personale e privato. Dobbiamo sempre stare allerta, ponderare ciò che facciamo, ciò che diciamo. Questi giovani si fidano ciecamente e non possiamo permetterci di deluderli, magari promettendo loro cose che non possiamo mantenere… E non parlo solamente di grandi cose, ma anche di minuscoli dettagli, come una pizza per cena. La fiducia non è uno scherzo”

E di fiducia ‘Uccio’ se ne intende. Basti considerare quella riposta in lui dall’amico fraterno Valentino Rossi, il leggendario ‘Dottore’ a cui è legato da un rapporto impossibile da scalfire.

Un rapporto coltivato fin dall’infanzia, fin da quando ai pomeriggi sulla riviera, i due preferivano interminabili ore in sella.

“Da piccolo mi piaceva girare con qualsiasi cosa andasse forte. Soprattutto in discesa.  Molti dei miei amici giocavano a calcio, anch’io per un po’ l’ho fatto, come penso altri quaranta milioni di bambini italiani. Però non era quella la mia storia, dovevo andare con le due ruote per divertirmi veramente. Poi il mio compagno di merende, Vale, si è rivelato abbastanza veloce… Ma quello non l’ho capito subito. Oggi il rapporto con la moto non è cambiato, nutro massimo rispetto verso quell’oggetto, vengo invaso da un misto di adrenalina e goduria solo a guardarlo. Gli anni sono passati, io e Vale siamo diventati grandi e, con estrema naturalezza, questo amore è diventato un lavoro. Però devo essere sincero, non riesco a considerarlo tale: diciamo 90% passione e 10% lavoro”

Quel 10%, è innegabile, porta una marea di responsabilità gestionali nella vita di ‘Uccio’.

Responsabilità che vanno dalla semplice cura organizzativa del Motor Ranch, a quella mentale dei giovanissimi selezionati e cresciuti dall’Academy, alla pianificazione di un futuro che potrebbe aprire le porte di questa virtuosa realtà tricolore ad atleti stranieri.

“Ai ragazzi diamo tutto il supporto possibile. Sono consapevole del fatto che siano obbligati a crescere in fretta, devono abituarsi a stare lontani di casa, devono affrontare le prime pressioni… Noi li accompagniamo in questo percorso, consigliamo loro i team migliori. Gli ingredienti fondamentali che cerchiamo in un pilota sono l’educazione e il rispetto per tutte le persone che gli gravitano attorno: meccanici, tecnici, tifosi e avversari. Chi non ha queste caratteristiche non può far parte della nostra realtà, l’abbiamo già dimostrato con alcune scelte. Il Motor Ranch è la patria del divertimento, ogni giorno è un’esperienza, ma è anche molto complesso da far funzionare. Di certo in Italia e, penso, in Europa, impianti del genere non ce ne sono. Per questo in futuro potremmo aprire le porte anche a giovani piloti stranieri. Per il momento vogliamo concentrarci sui ragazzi che abbiamo e su un paio di innesti italiani. Dopo l’arrivo di Celestino Vietti ci siamo fermati per strutturarci e direi che ce l’abbiamo fatta, siamo pronti per un altro passo in avanti”


5 playgrounds where basketball becomes design

Nike, Hennessy, Puma, Adidas and Pigalle. Brands and hoops creativity

It’s an historical period in which the fever of sports design and, above all, basketball design is constantly increasing. For this reason we selected 5 courts with enormous visual impact.

Recently built or renovated, these urban streetball pearls have all been commissioned by major world brands: a virtuous practice, which allows to redevelop difficult areas or simply to spread the Game’s word in the most aesthetic way.

Sheki Lei Grind Court, Hong Kong

Located in the popular district of Kwai Chung, this playground, inaugurated by Nike last June, is built in a nerve center of the former British colony. Near its hoops there are 14 elementary and middle schools. The cartoon motifs were painted by the British artist James Jarvis.

NBA Hennessy basketball court, Sidney

The well-known liquor brand Hennessy, the NBA global spirits partner, created a basketball pearl on the Sydney coast. The black paint used by Studio Messa replaced the pools of the renowned Bondi Icebergs Club, creating a striking sporty vision.

Children’s Village Community Center, New York

For the launch of the DON 3 signature shoes, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, supported by Adidas, donated a series of courts to the Children’s Community Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Puma Unity Corner, Kiev

The opening of the Puma Unity Corner court in the heart of Kiev coincided with the launch of the global UNITY campaign. Within this Ukrainian urban glimpse, images of monuments from all over the world alternate themselves, underlining the message behind the campaign conceived by the German brand.

Pigalle playgrounds, Parigi e Pechino

The Nike Pigalle Converse collection stimulated the creative process of Stéphane Ashpool and associates. In addition to the renewal of the historic and characteristic Parisian court (stronghold of the French brand), Pigalle for the first time crossed the European borders, arriving in Beijing. A new chapter entirely dedicated to the new generations, as stated by Ashpool himself.


Behind the Lights – Filippo Maffei

Surfing, skateboarding, human portraits. Journey into the world of the talented photographer from Viareggio

“It is essential to know surfing in order to photograph it. It is a paradigm that applies to all niche sports. You need to be able to perceive the technical gesture, to know how to understand it. I often compare surfing to dance. If I had to do a dance shoot I would study a long time to understand the precise moment in which the body becomes elegant, in which it reaches a perfect position. There are standards to be respected, beauty standards…”

Filippo Maffei’s visual surf is a hymn to aesthetic gentleness, to the ecstatic instant. In the photographic compositions of this artist from Viareggio, Tuscany, the waves become sets with a rare, refined, studied meaning.

Habit, natural appeal, youthful passion sublimated in creativity, in optical magic. A passion that blossomed on the empty pontoons of winter Tuscany, where skateboards alternated with wavy acrobatics.

“I grew up with the sea in front of my eyes. I lived it in autumn and winter, when tourists left the city. From September the promenade became deserted. The streets, the squares, everything was empty and was illuminated by spectacular sunsets. In these contexts I first started skating, later I met surfing: my passion for photography was born there too”

Inspired by the urban scene of Viareggio, by the long afternoons spent riding asphalt and architecture, Filippo takes his father’s Kinon and begins his artistic journey.

“It all happened progressively. I started shooting on film. When I was 18 I injured my ankle and at that moment I realized that I was better as a photographer. At the same time a series of events pushed me towards photography: like the release of ‘The Strongest of the Strange’ produced by Pontus Alv, an innovative video, which explored a different emotional sphere of the skate world. Pontus Alv launched a deep, gloomy visual trend with a lot of black and white”

A trend that in Filippo’s shots soon intertwines with portraiture: a search for the human and emotional condition, far from the simple sporting detail.

“When I started buying Bresson and Avedon’s books my vision changed. I studied their portraits and realized that that kind of research was already part of my photography. During the days spent shooting friends on skateboards, I  used to love to portraying them in intimate moments. I thought it was more meaningful than crystallizing a simple grind. The athletic gesture is there, it is obvious. Intimacy is difficult to explore”

The process of discovery, of exploration, for Filippo was and still is embellished by a series of overseas trips: targeted trips to the Californian eldorado, where skate and surf breathe in their cradle.

“Every time in California I relive the environment of my home, but on the ocean. Each time it is a convergence of passions, emotions: I still have the printed photos of the first trip made with my surfer-friend Alessandro Ponzanelli, they are a milestone in my career. At that time I was studying Foreign Languages in the university of Pisa and I was working in my father’s company. Fortunately he always pushed my passion and, when I understood that it could be a real job, I invested a year to completely devote myself to photography”

The real working turning point comes with Sundek’s global campaign: a huge springboard for Filippo and his photographic style. In the commercial universe, unlike many colleagues, the native of Viareggio does not seem to be distorted. He always remains faithful to his own artistic expression. On the contrary, he is encouraged to do so by the customers.

“I think I have developed a fairly personal style over the years. I’m lucky, those who look for me are interested in what I do. During the shootings I often have freedom to express my vision… And this creates a balance between the creative part and the commercial one. In the last period, many jobs failed due to the pandemic crisis. I took advantage of the historical moment and I opened a photographic studio in Camaiore”

Filippo will soon return to travel, he will soon return to search for the perfect wave: the wave theorized on the Viareggio piers, admired between Hawaii and Iceland, Mexico and California. A wave that has very clear profiles and characteristics in the mind of this talented photographer.

“I love when there is wind from the mainland: the wave is smooth and a strip of glass is created on its surface. These are perfect waves to portray when there is little light: at sunrise or sunset. A scenic part of the wave is created, the crest is blown away by the wind, and in the frame there is cleanliness, richness of image. To this vision I associate a classic surf, which refers to the 70s, far from modern races, competitions and drifts: a perfect, evocative surf”

Photo Credits: Filippo Maffei

video di:
Agency // AQuest
Production Director // Tommaso Artegiani
Executive Producer // Moira Spotorno
Film Direction // Francesco Bonato & Nicola Rossi
Camera & Editing // Nicola Rossi
Original Soundtrack & Sound Design // Alessandro Franceschini

Text by: Gianmarco Pacione


5 docufilm sul tennis da vedere

La racchetta raccontata sullo schermo. Avete altri consigli?

È recentemente uscito su Netflix lo speciale della serie ‘Untold’ dedicato a Mardy Fish. Un viaggio nell’intimità del tennista statunitense, un intenso approfondimento relativo ai problemi mentali che ne hanno condizionato carriera e vita privata: dinamiche trattate con particolare attenzione soprattutto nel tennis moderno, come dimostrato dal recente caso Osaka.

Abbiamo deciso di selezionare alcuni ritratti visivi, documentari e film, che possano aiutarci a comprendere più a fondo questo lato della racchetta, che esaltino e analizzino la solitudine della riga di fondo, che descrivano spaccati di storia tennistica ed individuale.

UNTOLD: BREAKING POINT

Le aspettative di un’intera nazione ancora inebriata dai vari McEnroe, Sampras, Agassi e Courier. Il rapporto d’amicizia e aiuto reciproco con Andy Roddick. La rapida ascesa nella top 10 mondiale e l’inattesa paralisi psicoemotiva. ‘Breaking Point’, ennesimo capolavoro della collana Netflix ‘Untold’, ritrae la parabola di Mardy Fish. Una parabola, quella dell’ex numero uno USA, segnata dalla battaglia contro sé stesso, contro la propria mente. Un lavoro introspettivo di enorme spessore, fondamentale per comprendere pensieri e problemi risultati troppo a lungo tabù nel circuito ATP.

ANDY MURRAY: RESURFACING

Questo documentario disponibile sulla piattaforma Prime Video si focalizza sulla lunga e logorante odissea vissuta da Andy Murray. Anni trascorsi tra sale operatorie e centri riabilitativi per curare un infortunio gravissimo. Anni in cui il tennis, per il tennista britannico, si è tramutato in un’oscura spirale.

BORG MCENROE

La rivalità per eccellenza del tennis romantico, un affresco di due personalità rimaste scolpite nella leggenda sportiva. L’epica di questa dualità, sublimata nella finale di Wimbledon 1980, viene raccontata dalla lente di Janus Metz in un film tanto attuale, quanto dal sapore nostalgico.

NAOMI OSAKA

La docuserie Netflix dedicata a Naomi Osaka ci regala uno spaccato di una delle tenniste più dominanti sul campo e, contemporaneamente, più ricche di sfumature psicoemotive, più capaci d’incidere sulla società globale. Puntata dopo puntata la giapponese viene seguita dalle telecamere nelle sue battaglie sociali e sportive, nelle pressioni esterne e nei frenetici viaggi. Un modo per comprendere ancora di più, soprattutto alla luce delle ultime significative azioni pubbliche, il carattere e la sensibilità dell’ex numero uno al mondo.

VILAS: TUTTO O NIENTE

Eduardo Puppo è un noto giornalista argentino pronto a dedicare una consistente parte della propria vita per rendere merito ad un mito della racchetta, Guillermo Vilas. L’obiettivo delle instancabili ricerche di Puppo? Regalare a Vilas la vetta del ranking ATP nel 1977, un primato che gli era stato negato per un’inspiegabile serie di eventi. Il fascino di questa pellicola Netflix, però, non sta solo nella ricerca di dati e testimonianze storiche, ma esonda nella descrizione biografica del re sudamericano della terra rossa. Una vita da scoprire, da assaporare, come un tempo era il suo tennis.


Hamid Rahimi, I’m ready to die for Afghanistan

Interview with the greatest boxer in Afghan history, the sporting face of the fight against the Taliban

“Many think it’s just an Afghan problem, they turn their backs on a frightened population, they ignore men, women and young people who see only darkness in front of them. The situation is dramatic. Afghanistan is one of the youngest countries in the world, the new generations will suffer constant brainwashing perpetrated by insane, bloodstained terrorists. It will become a global problem, it’s already becoming a global problem, and yet everyone stands still”

Hamid Rahimi’s fiery, throbbing voice reaches us from Hamburg. His words move fast, they are impossible to dodge, they seem like a planned outburst in the last round, like a reckless and overwhelming combination inflicted to an opponent impossible to face, to defeat.

Hamid is the greatest boxer in Afghan history, as evidenced by a WBO Intercontinental middleweight title, as showed by a career that was fundamental in opening the doors of combat sports to his compatriots; Hamid is probably the most famous athlete born in the shadow of the harsh Hindu Kush.

His testimony is the manifesto of an emigrant deeply connected to his native land, of an exile who found fame and boxing glory in Germany, waiting for the serenity of his country, hoping for a socio-political stability that never seems so distant and elusive as today.

“Afghanistan means a lot to me. I was born in Kabul in 1983, during the war, at the age of eight I saw my best friend die from a bomb: for that detonation I was hospitalized for eight months. In 1994 I left the country with my family. We settled in Hamburg as refugees, waiting a long time for that dramatic interlude to end. Unfortunately another conflict immediately began. In Germany I carried the war within me, that’s why I ended up in a juvenile prison. There I discovered boxing, the best therapy in the world, so I found my peace”

A peace that Hamid tried to export to his land, using boxing as a means to unite and inspire.

His two greatest achievements were the title match against the Tanzanian Said Mbelewa, the first professional boxing match organized in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan, and the ‘Fight 4 Peace’ association, committed to raising boys and, above all, girls thanks to boxing gloves.

Decisions hated by those who, waving white flags, took control of the country in the last weeks. Decisions that led to death threats, real attacks, and a visceral enmity nurtured by afghan extremist fringes.

“October 30, 2012, for one night in Afghanistan there were no bombs and weapons, everyone was focused on the noble art. A magical night, a night that I desired with all my heart. I wanted to fight in front of my people, I wanted to show that dreams can be realized in Kabul too. Kids must have models, it’s essential, especially in a country like Afghanistan. If you have models you can set goals and goals prevent others from corrupting your mind. At that time I could fight in Germany and anywhere in the world, I could earn a lot of euros, but money is just an insignificant illusion compared to much more important rewards. The organization of the event was extremely complex: many argued that it would be impossible for security reasons, for the Taliban danger, for the improbable presence of an opponent and a referee… I went to national TV, I talked to armies and governments, and I proved that I could be strong even without weapons: my power was defined by a belt raised to the sky. Immediately after that match I started the ‘Fight 4 Peace’ project, a clear political and social statement. In F4P gyms there are no differences of sex, ethnicity and religion. In a short time we expanded our project throughout the country and today many of my collaborators are threatened for what they do. The Taliban and their followers in the recent past have repeatedly attacked my life as well”

When Hamid analyzes the theme of death, of daily danger, the former intercontinental champion sighs intensely and calls on faith. He speaks of a utopian future built outside the country by illustrious emigrants like him: men and women who grew up humanly and professionally in Europe, citizens with double passports incredibly tied to their homeland.

“I believe in God and I know what a war means, I know what it feels like when you are completely disarmed, when no one helps you. One day I will die. If I were afraid, I would die every day. For this reason I publicly describe the true face of the Taliban, their purely economic ideology: something that is very distant from the religious precepts that they hypocritically profess. There is nothing democratic about them, there will never be. I don’t give up, in my opinion the situation is destined to change, I’ll try to change it: for example, in the next few weeks I’ll come back to Kabul. I’m part of a group of emigrants who want to build the Afghanistan of the future, we are constantly in contact, they are German and European professionals who don’t accept the Taliban regime. Now we need external help to realize our ideas and I believe we’ll be forced to experience the horror of a civil war”

When Hamid talks about foreign help, he’s extremely cautious. He criticizes the management of the last decade of joint mission between the UN and the US, highlighting their inability to understand and support the good side of Afghanistan, finding in this cleavage the main cause of the latest spiral of unexpected events.

Harsh criticisms followed by a passionate warning addressed to the Western conscience: a conscience which, according to his thoughts, vanished too quickly.

“Western countries still don’t have enough experience to understand Afghan tradition and culture. They invested billions and, at the same time, they always supported the wrong politicians: even people with clear racist tendencies. They marginalized the national government, they populated it with powerless puppets. Today’s 20-year-olds, who were just born in 2001 and had only heard of the Taliban shadow, are in total panic. Everything will change: education, personal freedom, the women’s status. All this explains the scenes of the Kabul airport and the urgency to revive Afghanistan. I remind everyone that the Taliban have in their hands a country full of weapons that is twice the size of Germany. The problem will not be yours in the very short term, but believe me, what will happen in the next few months will have an impact on the whole world”

Hamid Rahimi
IG @iamhamidrahimi

Text by Gianmarco Pacione


Lee-Ann Curren, the ocean is my music

Surfing, music, content creation. Interview with the multifaceted French ocean artist

“The ocean was essential in cultivating my artistic soul. I think it helped me as a human being. In the ocean you cannot force anything, you have to accept what the waves decide, what the elements decide. It’s all about energy. It’s the same in life, it’s the same in music”

Oceanic balances, symphonic balances. Surfing on the notes, playing music in the waves. Lee-Ann Curren is guitar and surfboard, is a young woman divided between sport and music: a double soul cultivated for a long time. A combination capable today of reaching a perfect maturity, a maturity free from imposed constraints and performance obligations. An independent and creative maturity.

Lee-Ann grew up in a family that inhabitated the ocean currents. Her  illustrious father Tom, her mother, her relatives… All these figures were linked in different ways to the ancient Polynesian religion of the waves, all these figures allowed Lee-Ann to understand the value of the eternal aquatic dance.

“I was very lucky to grow up in the water. Now I cannot live far from the ocean. It’s part of my life, of my everything. When I’m in the waves a deep feeling of calm pervades me, I observe the horizon line and admire the quiet, evocative movement of everything that surrounds it. When I ride a wave, I feel the same sensations I felt when I was 6, I think it’s something wonderful”

It was impossible for Lee-Ann to think of a childhood without a surfboard under her arm. She was very young when she entered the world professional circuits:  whirlwind competitions that demand numbers and results.

Results that inevitably led to pressures that don’t belong to this special marine culture. A process that Lee-Ann stopped, preferring the freedom of her passions, of her multifaceted creativity, to the athletic glory.

“I reached the peak of my sporting activities at the age of 18, I was always traveling, always involved in some competition, I realized that I was missing too many things. Most of all I was missing music. I started playing and recording myself when I was 12-13 years old. I used to listen a lot of music with my mom and my father played a lot of instruments: he lived in California, I was in France, he kept his instruments in the garage and when I visited him we played together. High level surf took me out of focus, when you surf too much, you lose some magic in what you are doing. So I decided to reconnect with my high school band and to start recording again. My life immediately changed. At the same time, however, my mind could no longer be focused on competitions. So I decided to focus on free surfing and music”

Lee-Ann’s music has not turned its back on the waves, still today it constantly draws inspiration from them, from the musical score made up of winds and sunsets.

“Growing up all my favorite songs were somehow related to surf movies and videos. In my opinion these two things have always been connected. Learning to surf is like learning to play an instrument: it takes patience, you have to spend a lot of time on it. You have to really desire it. Also there is a very strong cinematic influence, documentaries and films related to surfing culture are always accompanied by wonderful soundtracks, by iconic songs: for this reason many surfers are close to music. The latest songs I have published are quite long compositions. ‘Conversations’, for example, is about my evolution and different periods of life. It is a very introspective piece, I put everything into it”

In addition to surfing and music, Lee-Ann’s recent work commitments have also led her to content creation. Sponsored by Vans, this 32-year-old French woman alternates her days between rehearsal rooms, waves and video productions. A full, multifaceted, stimulating life.

“I’m very lucky to have a sponsor who allows me to do all this. Now with Vans I’m carrying out ‘Cadavre Exquis’, an all-female project. It’s a video focused on the experiences of different surfers around the world. It’s not easy to find a balance between all these things: for example, sometimes I feel that I’m not fully focused on surfing or music, but I truly believe that the intertwining of these worlds helps me to fully express myself. I hope to repeat this project with Vans next year, in a few months my new songs will come out and I also hope to return to playing live. In the future I know that surfing will continue to be a fundamental component of my life, just like the ocean”

Credits

Lee-Ann Curren
IG @lacurren

Ph by Thomas Lodin
IG @thomaslodin

Text by Gianmarco Pacione

Video Youtube


Luca Marini, migliorare me stesso per la MotoGP

Studio, sacrifici, convinzioni. Intervista al pilota della Sky VR46 Avintia

“Ho pochi ricordi della mia infanzia, ma ho un momento preciso cristallizzato nella memoria. È una delle mie prime volte sulle minimoto, sulla pista del Motor Park di Cattolica, vicino casa mia. Volevo provare quell’esperienza, lo volevo tantissimo, perché quando passavo lì vicino con la macchina vedevo sempre qualcuno che girava. Allora ho chiesto insistentemente ai miei genitori e mi sono ritrovato sulle due ruote, con l’aiuto delle rotelline. Andavo piano piano, con una persona che mi teneva dietro, forse era mio padre: il gas aveva il fermo, non potevi dargliene di più…”

Luca Marini ha una nobiltà innata, visibile, gestuale. Occhi azzurri ed eloquio forbito, gambe lunghe, affusolate, distanti anni luce dallo stereotipo morfologico degli equilibristi delle due ruote. All’ombra del paddock WithU si sistema il lungo ciuffo biondo con movimenti lenti, misurati, antitetici rispetto alle velocità raggiunte con la sua Ducati in questa prima stagione di classe regina.

Luca Marini ha, soprattutto, un pensiero fisso: migliorarsi, diventare la migliore versione di sé stesso. Un processo iniziato tempo addietro, quando il classe ’97 dovette prendere una decisione definitiva, abbandonando l’altra sua grande passione, il pallone, per dedicarsi anima e corpo ai motori.

“Ho vissuto sempre un dualismo tra calcio e moto. Il pallone mi piaceva tanto e giocavo nella squadra del mio paese. Ero anche bravo… Sapevo benissimo, però, che con il calcio non avrei avuto l’opportunità di sfondare ad alti livelli. Con le moto, invece, sentivo di aver intrapreso il percorso corretto per poter puntare in alto. Così a 14 anni ho iniziato ad allenarmi in maniera più specifica, a considerare la moto come un lavoro, e questo mi ha portato ad abbandonare il calcio”

Step dopo step, marcia dopo marcia, piega dopo piega. Fondamentale nella parabola motociclistica di Luca Marini è stato il passaggio dalla VR46 Academy, da quel magico ranch-incubatrice popolato da giovani talenti affamati di conoscenza tecnica e velocità.

“L’Academy è una bellissima realtà, un contesto unico, in cui sono state brave le persone che ci hanno lavorato, a partire da mio fratello Valentino. All’inizio c’erano tante idee, tanti sogni, ma poi bisogna riuscire a concretizzare tutto, e non è facile. Abbiamo avuto la possibilità di crescere tutti insieme, per noi piloti era una continua sfida, ogni giorno subentravano delle dinamiche che portavano inevitabilmente ad un’evoluzione personale: dovevi girare più veloce dell’altro, sollevare più pesi dell’altro… Mi emoziona riflettere sul fatto che l’Academy ha fatto crescere noi piloti, è vero, ma anche noi piloti abbiamo permesso all’Academy di crescere”

Una crescita reciproca, dunque, che nel caso di Luca si è concretizzata con una rapida transizione in Moto3, una lunga parentesi in Moto2, culminata nel secondo posto in classifica generale della passata stagione, e con l’approdo nel paradiso della MotoGP di pochi mesi fa.

È stato un ingresso complesso quello nell’asfaltato salone delle feste, Luca non lo nega, ne parla con estrema lucidità, con la consapevolezza di trovarsi in un gotha popolato da mostri sacri, superuomini e, come dice lui stesso, ‘animali da pista’.

“All’approdo in MotoGP ho subito notato che tutto quello che avevo fatto negli anni precedenti non era abbastanza. Dovevo fare un altro scatto in avanti, molti scatti in avanti, come pilota e come persona: era ed è l’unica via per raggiungere il mio massimo livello, la mia versione migliore. Per esempio ci sono tanti aspetti del mio carattere che non mi piacciono e che finiscono per intaccare le mie prestazioni sportive, sto cercando di cambiare in meglio anche sotto questo punto di vista e di ammorbidire la mia introversione. Limare e curare ogni dettaglio è l’unico modo per riuscire a competere con quelli che ritengo a tutti gli effetti ‘animali da pista’. Prima li guardavo in tv, da questa stagione li vedo di fianco, davanti, dietro, provo a capire come riescano a portare la moto al limite: studio le traiettorie, le posizioni in curva, le tipologie di frenate… Provo a fare miei i loro punti di forza, in modo da diventare più forte di loro”

Inondato dalle immagini dei suoi ultimi Gran Premi, Luca ruota a lungo attorno ad un concetto specifico, quello di DNA motociclistico, di DNA del singolo pilota: nozione che mai come quest’anno ha avuto modo di teorizzare approfonditamente, nozione che mai come nel suo caso ha rimandi pratici, oltre che teorici, alla luce del ben noto legame genetico con Valentino Rossi.

Un DNA polisemico che, se coltivato nel giusto modo, nel prossimo futuro potrebbe portare Marini alla definitiva esplosione e ad una stabile presenza ai vertici della MotoGP.

“Mi sono reso conto che il DNA di un pilota MotoGP non varia negli anni, quello è e quello rimane. I ragazzi che correvano con me in Moto3 e Moto2 e che oggi ritrovo qui si sono evoluti sotto molti punti di vista, ma sono rimasti fedeli allo stile di sempre, alla loro essenza. Anch’io provo ad esserlo. Adesso dovrò fare esperienza e fare ogni passo richiesto dalla categoria. Poi, quando avrò un pacchetto tecnico che mi permetterà di esprimermi al meglio, dovrò farmi trovare pronto e dimostrare con i risultati. Sono convinto di poter arrivare molto in alto anche qui”

Luca Marini
IG @luca_marini_97

Intervista di Gianmarco Pacione

Photo credits:Rise Up Duo, Riccardo Romani