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Bethanie Mattek-Sands to The Tennis Channel's Mary Carillo on why she wears eye black on the court:
I've actually tried playing in sunglasses, the first time I did it I actually whiffed a few volleys. I tried it with the sunscreen and zinc and that didn't run off with sweat. Believe it or not, the eye black actually does reduce the glare.
There's another reason the top-ranked American woman in Paris sports the baseball-style eye black when she steps onto the court. "I'm not going to lie," she told Carillo, "it is a little scary sometimes."
Just ask Arantxa Parra Santonja, who was up a set and a break on Sunday against Mattek-Sands and went on to lose the first-round match. Did it have anything to do with the two stickers under her opponents eyes? Almost certainly not, it was the product of a shift in aggressiveness for the American and a turn toward tentative and defensive play by the Spaniard. Mattek-Sands' game is intimidating enough over the past few weeks. Still, I can't help but think that the eye black helps, if only subliminally. Think of it like this: assuming you're facing the No. 32 player in the world no matter what, would you rather see her with a ponytail and a polo shirt or looking like she's getting ready for the Super Bowl?
Next month, we may look back on Mattek-Sands' eye black as quaint. She told Carillo she already has plans for what she'll wear at the Wimbledon player party. It's a dress designed completely with materials made from tennis equipment. The guy making it is the same person who designs dresses for Lady Gaga.