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Naomi Osaka Blasts 'Absurd' Lawsuit Ain't Paying Ex-Coach 20% For Life!

3/18/2019 12:16 PM PDT
Exclusive Details

12:16 PM PT -- Osaka has lawyered up with attorney to the stars Alex Spiro and he's attacking Jean's claim as straight-up "absurd."

"While it comes as no surprise that Naomi's meteoric rise as an international icon and inspiration would lead to some false claim, this silly 'contract' that Naomi never saw or signed -- which purports to give away part of herself at the age of 14 -- is particularly absurd," Spiro says. 

"This case has no merit and we will move past it.”

The tennis coach who began working with Naomi Osaka back when she was 13 claims her father signed a contract promising him 20% of her career earnings ... and now he's coming to collect. 

The man behind the lawsuit is Christophe Jean -- who says Naomi's father, Leonard Francois, hired him to work with Naomi and his other daughter, Mari, back in 2011. 

Jean says Francois couldn't pay his rates at the time, so they struck a deal in which Jean agreed to accept 20% of Naomi and Mari's tennis prize money and endorsement deals forever. 

That's not a typo ... Jean says he has a copy of the contract where Francois agrees that the term of the deal is "indefinite." It's included in Jean's suit, filed in state court in Florida. 

Of course, Naomi -- now 21 years old -- has blossomed into a tennis superstar, currently ranked #1 in the world ... and famously beat Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open

According to the official WTA website, she's made more than $10.8 MILLION during her career -- and that's not including endorsement money. 

So, Jean wants his cut -- at least $2 million -- which is why he's suing Naomi, Mari and Leonard. 

The other possible issue ... can a parent promise a cut of a minor child's future adult earnings? And, can a judge enforce such a contract?

It's not exactly cut and dry. We're looking into it. 

Originally Published -- 7:05 AM PT

Serena Williams Tennis Punished Me For Taking Maternity Leave

3/8/2019 7:14 AM PST
Breaking News

Serena Williams says the pro tennis ranking system is "biased" against working moms -- and she's living proof -- claiming she took a HUGE hit for taking maternity leave and it's simply not right. 

"When I returned to tennis from maternity leave, I was penalized for taking time off: my ranking dropped from #1 in the world to #453," Serena wrote in an op-ed for Fortune

"That required me to face tougher competition earlier in the French Open, which led to a pectoral injury that forced me to drop out."

Serena gave birth to her daughter, Olympia, back in Sept. 2017 -- but there were complications which required Serena to undergo emergency surgery following the delivery. 

Everyone is okay now ... and Serena returned to tennis 8 months after giving birth. The problem? Serena says the extremely low ranking the ATP and WTA gave her when she returned was super unfair and forced her to overcome obstacles she shouldn't have had to overcome! 

"I fought hard personally, making it to the Wimbledon final shortly after, but I also fought hard publicly against the biased ranking system. We must stop penalizing women when they return to their careers after having children."

She added, "Women deserve to be given the same respect and opportunities as our male counterparts. We are entitled to the same open doors."

The good news ... the WTA announced back in December they recognized this very problem -- and vowed to give protection to mothers who return to the tour after giving birth. 

The WTA says female players who give birth will be able to use their pre-maternity leave ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a 3-year period, which seems like a practical solution. 

Oh, and don't worry about Serena -- she returned to the Top 10 rankings just last month ... because she's the G.O.A.T.

Steve Harvey Will Smith as Serena's Dad? ... Hell Yeah!!!

3/6/2019 9:42 AM PST

Skin color controversy be damned, Steve Harvey thinks Will Smith would be the PERFECT guy to play Serena Williams' dad on the big screen.

There's a new movie being shopped around about Richard Williams -- Serena and Venus' father -- and it appears Will Smith is the #1 choice to play the #1 dad.

But, there's been a major backlash from people who say Will's complexion is too LIGHT to match the real Richard ... and critics are already calling for potential producers to find a more dark-skinned actor. 

Steve Harvey doesn't see it that way ... telling TMZ Sports the beloved entertainer can do no wrong.

"Hell yeah, Will Smith is a good choice for everything."

Smith hasn't officially signed on to the project or even commented about it publicly. The project is only in the "spec script" stage.

However, there's been a push on social media for other actors to get the lead role -- suggested names have included Don CheadleForest Whitaker and even Usher.

We asked what Harvey thought about the latter ... and it's safe to say he ain't buyin' it.

"Come on, man."

As for the biopic ... Deadline reports its working title is "King Richard" and will tell the story of how the world's most famous tennis parent raised the 2 sisters from the streets of Compton to international tennis superstardom, despite Richard having no real tennis experience of his own. 

Venus and Serena both went on to become the #1 ranked tennis players in the world ... sitting #1 and #2 on the all-time women's tennis career earnings list. 

Tennis' Justin Gimelstob Denies Alleged Halloween Assault ... I'm Not Violent!

2/22/2019 2:29 PM PST

Justin Gimelstob -- an ex-tennis star and broadcaster -- says he did NOT beat the hell out of a man during a trick-or-treating run last Halloween ... telling TMZ Sports he's not a violent person.

As we previously reported ... Gimelstob -- a former doubles champ who's coached tennis star John Isner -- was arrested after he allegedly roughed up a man named Randall Kaplan on Oct. 31, 2018.

According to Kaplan ... Gimelstob punched him "more than 50 times" in the face and head during the alleged assault and threatened to "f**king kill" him.

Gimelstob was charged with felony battery ... but when we got him out after his latest court date in L.A. on Thursday -- he told us he's an innocent man.

"I'm not the person that's been depicted here," Gimelstob says ... adding that he's NOT a violent person.

Gimelstob is facing up to 4 years in prison AND a fine of up to $10,000. He previously pled not guilty to the charge back in December.

Justin's due back in court next week.

Gimelstob was a star in doubles matches back in the late '90s ... winning with partner Venus Williams in both the 1998 Australian Open and 1998 French Open mixed doubles tournaments.

Gimelstob -- who's become a star broadcaster in retirement -- has taken a leave of absence from his role as an analyst on the Tennis Channel while his case plays out in the court system.

Meghan Markle Hits Fancy NYC Restaurant ... With Serena Williams

2/20/2019 6:25 AM PST

Meghan Markle took her fetus for a night on the town Tuesday -- hitting the famous Polo Bar restaurant for dinner with her pal Serena Williams ... and we've got the video. 

Her Royal Highness had a busy day -- she flew into New York for her baby shower at The Mark Hotel earlier in the day ... where friends like Abigail Spencer and Jessica Mulroney helped celebrate the mom-to-be. 

Afterward, it was off to Ralph Lauren's Polo Bar -- famous for its $20 "RRL Hot Dog" -- which comes with sauerkraut, sweet relish & mustard on a toasted brioche bun.  

If she didn't have the dog, she missed out. 

On the way out, 37-year-old Meghan strutted to her waiting SUV while clutching a fancy black Stella McCartney purse. 

FYI, everything Meghan touches seems to sell out in minutes -- guessing royal fashion-aholics already snapped up the remaining stock. 

Serena followed Meghan and got in the same SUV. 

By the way, Serena and Meghan have been close for years -- they met at a Super Bowl party back in the day and grew so close, Meghan even invited the tennis legend to her wedding to Prince Harry

Serena Williams Pottery Hottery

2/15/2019 9:21 AM PST
Breaking News

Betcha didn't think pottery could be so appealing ... but, here's Serena Williams to prove it's definitely possible.

The tennis superstar put more than just her clay curves on display at a pottery studio on Thursday ... rockin' a leopard print shirt and some jean shorts that would make Daisy Duke proud.

Serena -- a Jehovah's Witness -- doesn't celebrate holidays, so she hit up Avenue Pottery in South Florida with some friends for GALentine's Day instead!!!

Serena picked out the matching outfits with her friend ... and posted about the experience, saying, "I’m really getting into pottery."

Of course, Serena addressed not celebrating holidays when her baby, Alexis Olympia, turned 1 back in September ... saying, "Olympia doesn't celebrate birthdays. We're Jehovah's Witnesses, we don't do that."

Williams' hubby certainly doesn't seem to mind not celebrating V-Day ... saying, "Those pottery skills tho" with a set of eye emojis.

Yeah, dude. Pottery skills.

Andy Murray Undergoes Hip Surgery Thinks He Looks Fat

1/29/2019 6:14 AM PST
Breaking News

Tennis superstar Andy Murray says he's in some serious pain after undergoing hip surgery in London early Monday morning -- but even worse ... the guy thinks he's fat. 

The 31-year-old Wimbledon champ has been in so much pain from his messed up hip over the past 2 years that he's considered retiring from tennis if the doctors can't fix him up. 

So, he went under the knife on Monday -- and seems to be optimistic. 

"I underwent a hip resurfacing surgery in London yesterday morning...feeling a bit battered and bruised just now but hopefully that will be the end of my hip pain," Murray said. 

"I now have a metal hip as you can see in the 2nd photo 👉👉 and I look like I've got a bit of a gut in photo 1."

Dude, you don't have a gut. 

The good news for Murray, tennis star Bob Bryan has previously had the same procedure and returned to the court after only 5 months of recovery. 

If Murray has the same results, he could compete at Wimbledon in July. 

Fingers crossed. 

Andy Murray Topless Suntan with Mom ... Retirement is Great!!

1/16/2019 7:43 AM PST
Breaking News

Andy Murray's freein' the nip in retirement ... ditching his shirt to catch some rays with his mom in Australia!!

The British tennis superstar announced his plans to retire due to injuries earlier this month ... and might've just played his last match after losing in the first round of the Australian Open.

Murray started his first full day off with a topless suntan in Melbourne with his mom ... strollin' the Yarra River and enjoying the R&R.

BTW -- Murray has 3 grand slam titles and was once the top player in the world.

The 31-year-old has hinted at a possible return down the road ... so maybe we haven't seen the end of Murray. But, if it is the end, the dude looks like he'll be just fine.

Catch those rays, Andy ... you deserve it!!

U.S. Open Chicken Tender Fan Cluck You ... I'm Hawking My Cola Sauce!!!

1/7/2019 12:10 AM PST

The U.S. Open fan who caused a collective gag when she dunked her chicken tenders in soda is now making it possible for you to indulge ... and if you think the food combo makes you nauseous, check out her music video.

Alexa Greenfield, tells TMZ ... she's about to launch her new product -- Cola Sauce! She's unveiling her product 2 ways -- with a video that rivals "Thriller," and an appearance at a chicken joint.

Alexa will make a personal appearance at Hill Country Chicken in NYC on January 26 and 27. It's not just any ol' chicken joint ... it the place she bought the tenders that made her famous.

Truth be told ... the video's kinda fun. It instructs the not faint of heart on how to properly tenderize your tenders with the soda of your choice.

Alexa's going full bore ... she's launching Cola Sauce on her website next month.

With Wimbledon looming ... can fish filets be far behind?

Serena Williams Still Faces Problems with Catsuit ... Despite Rule Change

12/13/2018 2:29 PM PST
Breaking News

Some good news, bad news for Serena Williams ... 

The Good News -- The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has announced massive rule changes allowing athletes like Serena to wear full catsuit outfits during 2019 matches.

The Bad News -- The French Open -- where the whole catsuit drama went down -- could still ban it because the rule change doesn't apply to Grand Slams. 

Remember, French Open officials created a huge controversy after they told Serena she couldn't wear her custom-made Nike compression suit ... despite the fact that it was designed to increase blood circulation in the wake of her health issues surrounding blood clots.

The ensuing outcry was LOUD -- with everyone from ex-pro tennis player Anne White to ex-Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad racing to defend Williams.

In an effort to prevent similar drama from happening ... the WTA announced in rule changes this week, "Leggings and mid-thigh-length compression shorts may be worn with or without a skirt, shorts or dress."

Translation ... catsuit's back!!!

The problem -- the rule changes only apply to WTA Tournaments ... NOT Grand Slams.

So, will the French Open stick to its guns and continue to the bar suit?? Tournament kicks off next May ... stay tuned.

Andy Murray HULA HOOP WORKOUT ... It's All In the Hips!

12/13/2018 7:03 AM PST
Breaking News

What does tennis superstar Andy Murray have in common with Alvin and the Chipmunks? 

They just want a Hula Hoop for Christmas!!!

Check out Andy gettin' his hips going with a special hula hoop workout on Wednesday at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Florida. 

31-year-old Murray has raved about the hula workout in the past -- telling Men's Journal back in August he'd been experimenting with different types of workouts after suffering a hip injury in 2017. 

"I’ve been doing coordination stuff, gymnastics-type moves and actually some moves with hula hoops," the 2-time Wimbledon champ told the mag. 

"I hadn’t done it since I was a kid, but those moves have helped keep me loose and healthy without putting too much strain on my body. It’s been new and challenging, but I’ve enjoyed it."

See that?! Hula hooping might actually make you a better athlete!!

And, if not, at least it's fun ... right, Alvin?!

Anna Kournikova Straight Outta Costco With Lotsa Booze!!!

12/12/2018 3:52 PM PST

Anna Kournikova's all about that top-shelf life -- blame it on the Goose -- during a recent trip to the grocery store.

The former tennis superstar was leaving Costco Wednesday in Miami, and she loaded up with groceries and TONS of booze. How big a haul are we talking here? She needed help from 3 assistants to get her car loaded.

But, it's hard not to miss her cart ... loaded with 6 Ketel One bottles, 4 Grey Goose bottles, a bottle of Patron and champagne. Why the liquor haul? We don't know for sure, but Anna and Enrique Iglesias' twins are turning 1 in just a few days. 

The kids might not know it's a party but -- from the looks of it -- the adults definitely will. Bottoms up! 

Ex-Tennis Star Justin Gimelstob Pleads Not Guilty ... In Trick-Or-Treat Assault Case

12/12/2018 10:12 AM PST

Justin Gimelstob -- an ex-tennis star and current broadcaster -- pled not guilty to felony aggravated battery after he was accused of beating the hell out of a man during a trick-or-treating run on Halloween.

Gimelstob -- a former doubles champ who coaches tennis stud John Isner -- was arrested on the suspicion of roughing up a guy named Randall Kaplan while the man was trick-or-treating with his family in L.A. on Oct. 31.

In a restraining order Kaplan filed in November, he claims the tennis coach hit him from behind, pinned him down, punched him "more than 50 times" in the face and head and threatened to "f**king kill" him.

Justin showed up in court Wednesday in L.A. to face the battery with serious bodily injury charge -- a felony -- and pled not guilty.

If convicted, Gimelstob faces up to 4 years in prison AND a fine of up to $10,000.

While dealing with his case, Justin has reportedly taken a leave of absence from his role as an analyst at the Tennis Channel.

Gimelstob is due back in court in January.

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