Net Gains: Tsonga sizzles with French toast but no sign of any Wil-fried food

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The Independent Online

In the days before any Grand Slam tournament, the top players receive invitations to a host of celebrity events. As a Frenchman who loves food and cooking, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clearly needed little persuading to take part in the "Taste of Tennis" evening organised by BNP Paribas. The charity event brought together a number of players and some of New York's most celebrated chefs, who worked together to cook dishes which were then enjoyed by several hundred paying guests at the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue. Tsonga helped to prepare a pasta dish with vegetables and French toast with peaches, but revealed: "My main speciality is desserts, especially tiramisu. It's very simple. I like cooking, although I don't have a lot of time to do it these days. I'd like to do more when I finish playing tennis." The world No 7 was brought up in a village near Le Mans, where the local specialities are rillettes (a pork pate) and Loue chickens, which are renowned for their flavour. "I don't know how to make rillettes, but I love eating them," Tsonga said. He now lives in the country outside Geneva. "I like the simple pleasures in life," he said. "I like eating well, I like peace and tranquillity, being outside in the fresh air. I love fishing, mostly in rivers but also in lakes. I used to fish a lot, but it's hard to find time these days. I probably go only 10 times a year." Despite his fondness for food, Tsonga has lost weight lately. "I'm a little lighter," he said. "I think it's made me a bit quicker."

Sharapova's got sole

If Tsonga looks a natural in the kitchen, Maria Sharapova is more at home on the catwalk. The Russian, who describes her cooking as "completely awful", strutted her stuff at a fashion launch outside the Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, where she was modelling clothes from her "Maria Sharapova by Cole Haan" range. Ever the professional, Sharapova extolled the virtues of her footwear, which she described as "ankle-booties that use Nike Air technology". It's a hard life being a model. "When you're on your feet for three hours just before the US Open, you know that when you get home your feet won't be hurting," she said.

Don't get court being a twit

Twitter is all the rage among tennis players, but the sport's Integrity Unit, which combats corruption and illegal betting, has banned tweeting from the court during matches, saying that such messages could amount to passing on insider information. The players have also been told to be careful about what they post off court. Andy Roddick, tweeting, said the ruling was "lame".

Wozniacki's a big hit

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki believes her fitness has improved since she took up boxing on the suggestion of a friend, Mikkel Kessler, who is the world super-middleweight champion. Wozniacki has been working mostly with punch bags, which is just as well. She sparred once with her coach and ended up apologising after hitting him. She explained: "He started yelling at me, 'Why are you saying sorry? It's what the game is about! You have to hit me!' It's just fun to get some aggression out sometimes."

p.newman@independent.co.uk

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