What Makes a Great Backhand? Good Hair

On the Baseline Tennis News

Julien Farel and Jelena Jankovic
We’ve all had them: bad hair days. You’ve battled with the blow dryer, globbed on the styling cream, and spritzed hair spray, only to put it all up in a ponytail, throw on your sunglasses, and head out the door.

I had a few of those days myself during this year’s US Open. What made my bad hair days seem even worse was not being able to spot any WTA players who had less than perfect coifs, even after sweating for hours under the blazing sun. What was the secret to taming their tresses?

I had heard a rumor about a hair salon located somewhere in Arthur Ashe Stadium. But with all of the matches, player press conferences, and deadlines, I couldn’t find the time to explore the stadium as much as I would have liked. During the occasional bathroom breaks, I would catch a glimpse of my reflection, and I could see the controlled chaos that I sometimes refer to as my hair.

I then realized that I couldn’t leave the US Open without finding this hair salon. So, during the final weekend of the tournament, I spent an hour wandering around the hallowed halls of Arthur Ashe Stadium. I walked up to the entrance of the players lounge, up one flight of stairs, and found the ultra-chic Julien Farel Salon, located just to the left of the 3rd floor gym. I was quite impressed.

As the official on-site hair salon for the US Open, the Julien Farel Salon has been making players match-ready and camera-ready for the past three years. Owner and lead stylist, Julien Farel and his team of beauty experts offer the players haircuts, hair styling, and skin care, as well as manicures and pedicures, and even eye brow shaping. The Salon also extends its services to coaches, family members, VIPs and celebrity clients. During the two weeks of the US Open, over 450 people were coiffed, polished, and shaped at the Julien Farel Salon in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

I asked Julien about what makes the hair salon so popular with the players. “We’re located in the players’ area, so they usually see the salon and come in,” he said. “It’s a great place for them to take some time-out and relax.”
Julien Farel and Jelena JankovicOver the years, Jelena Jankovic has been one of the most frequent visitors during the US Open. Before one of her matches this year, Jelena requested the HairThread technique (hair tied into place without the need for clips or pins.) Jelena wanted red and white thread in her ponytail to match her outfit for that day.
Other top WTA players who stopped by include Daniela Hantuchova, Nadia Petrova, Na Li, and former players Billie Jean King, Mary Joe Fernandez, and Hana Mandlikova. ESPN commentator Hannah Storm even had her hair coiffed at the Salon.

What impressed me the most about the Salon is their focus on sun protection for both skin and hair. “Most of the female players get everything done because the products we use protect them from the sun,” says Julien. “We use Natura Bissé oil-free SPF 30 for sun protection, Yves Saint Laurent Poudre Sur Mesure [semi-loose powder], YSL waterproof mascara, and YSL Gloss Volupte with SPF. Most importantly, we use PhytoLaque Soie [hairspray] from PHYTO Hair Care. It has a firm hold, is made from plant extracts, and it protects the hair from sun damage.”

Given the long hours of play during the US Open, the Julien Farel Salon honored some late-night requests, and even some walk-ins. “We are happy to style the players when they need it,” says Julien. “We will always accommodate players. It does not matter what time. That is why we are there.”

Now you know how the players manage to avoid bad hair days, whether it’s day or night, on or off the court.

They leave it to the pros. Smart move.

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