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Novak Djokovic criticises Wimbledon’s ‘crazy’ ban on Russian and Belarusian players

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Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from competing at Wimbledon and in all LTA grass court tournaments this summer; Reigning men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic criticised the decision, as have the ATP and WTA founder Billie Jean King

Novak Djokovic spoke out against Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players competing this summer

Novak Djokovic has branded the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at Wimbledon this year as “crazy”.

The All England Club made the announcement on Wednesday, ruling out, among others, US Open champion and world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, men’s world No 8 Andrey Rublev and women’s fourth-ranked Aryna Sabalenka from featuring in the Grand Slam.

But, speaking at the Serbia Open on Wednesday, reigning Wimbledon men’s singles champion and six-time winner Djokovic expressed his disagreement for the organisers’ stance.

“I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war,” Djokovic said.

“I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans we have had many wars in recent history.

“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”

Djokovic, in action in the quarter-finals of the Serbian Open on Thursday, recovered from a set down to defeat compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic 4-6 6-3 6-3.

The world No 1 had survived a deciding tie-break against Laslo Djere on Wednesday and again found himself up against it against Kecmanovic before coming back from a break down in the second set to clinch a semi-final spot, where he will face either Karen Khachanov or Thiago Monteiro.

Sports Minister welcomes Wimbledon’s ‘decisive action’

Of the players now banned from competing at Wimbledon in June and July, Medvedev reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last year, while Sabalenka was a beaten semi-finalist.

I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.

Novak Djokovic

Russian world No 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka – a two-time Australian Open champion – will also miss out. Russian and Belarusian players have also been banned from LTA grass court tournaments this summer.

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The All England Club said in a statement: “We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution.”

The statement went on to say: “If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.”

Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said: “We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and other Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from Wimbledon
US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and other Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from Wimbledon

“We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston welcomed the “decisive action” taken by Wimbledon, saying: “The UK has taken a leading role internationally to make clear that President Putin must not be able to use sport to legitimise Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.

“Whilst the withdrawal of individual athletes is a complex issue that will divide opinion, there is a bigger cause at stake.

“We have set out our position with sport governing bodies and event organisers and will continue to encourage them to take appropriate action for their sport.”

Elina Svitolina wants Russian and Belarusian players to speak out against the war in Ukraine

However, Ukraine’s former world No 3 Elina Svitolina believes it is better for Russian and Belarusian players to speak out against the war in her homeland, with them being allowed to participate if they do so.

“The best way is not to ban them completely, but make them speak about the war in Ukraine, to ask them if they support the invasion in Ukraine, if they support the government,” Svitolina told Sky News.

“And if they can answer those questions and if they say they that don’t support it [the war], they don’t support Putin, they don’t support Lukashenko, then they would be allowed to participate.”

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WTA founder Billie Jean King express concerns over ban

Djokovic’s stance mirrors that of the ATP and WTA, with both organisations releasing a statement on Wednesday expressing their concern over the ban.

WTA founder Billie Jean King said that the Grand Slam’s decision was a “complex undertaking” amid the challenges and pressures they are facing but added she “cannot support” the move.

“One of the guiding principles of the founding of the WTA was that any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete,” King said.

“I stood by that in 1973 and I stand by that today. I cannot support the banning of individual athletes from any tournament, simply because of their nationality.”

To date, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been permitted to continue playing in ATP, WTA and ITF competitions as long as they do so under a neutral flag and with no anthem played.

An ATP statement read: “We strongly condemn Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine and stand in solidarity with the millions of innocent people affected by the ongoing war.

“Our sport is proud to operate on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings.

The Wimbledon Championships start on June 27
The Wimbledon Championships start on June 27

“We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.

“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings.

“Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils.

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“It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis.

“In parallel, we will continue our joint humanitarian support for Ukraine under Tennis Plays for Peace.”

A WTA statement read: “The WTA strongly condemns the actions that have been taken by Russia and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. We continue our humanitarian relief efforts to support Ukraine through Tennis Plays for Peace.

“We are, however, very disappointed in today’s announcement by the AELTC and the LTA to ban individual athletes who are from Russia and Belarus from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events. A fundamental principle of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination.

“That principle is expressly set forth in our rules and has been agreed to by both AELTC and LTA. Prohibitions against discrimination are also clearly expressed in their own rules and the Grand Slam rules.

“As the WTA has consistently stated, individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing due to where they are from, or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.

“Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject discrimination and ensure that all athletes are able to compete at our Tour events should they qualify to do so, a position that until today’s announcement has been shared across professional tennis. The WTA will be evaluating its next steps and what actions may be taken regarding these decisions.”

The Kremlin said on Wednesday a ban on Russian players would hurt Wimbledon itself given Russia’s tennis prowess and was “unacceptable”.

“Given that Russia is a strong tennis country the competitions [which take this decision] will suffer from this,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

 

Boxing & UFC

Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua Will Happen Promoter Warren Vows

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Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua Will Happen Promoter Warren Vows

Tyson Fury’s promoter Frank Warren has promised to ensure fans’ yearning for a unification bout with Anthony Joshua happens this year telling the BBC that “we will make it happen” in response to fans’ wishes.

All heavyweight titles now reside in Britain for the first time in history after Fury, 31, stunned Deontay Wilder, 34, on Sunday to claim the WBC title.

Tyson Fury

Joshua, whose last fight was in Saudi Arabia, holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had earlier stated his wish to make the fight happen in the aftermath of Fury’s stunning 7th round stoppage of Wilder and reiterated his stance on Monday.

“Of course we want to see the fight,” Warren told BBC Sport. “We’ve been trying to make it for two years.”

“Hearn kept saying was it’s got to be 70/30 [the purse] in favour of AJ and so on and so fourth.

“The tables have turned now. I have no problem with 50/50. I think Tyson would deserve more but 50/50, no problem.

“This is about the boxers and more importantly the fans. If they want to see the fight we will make it happen.

“In the meantime, Eddie Hearn is acting like the guy standing outside your house with his nose pressed up against the window and keeps spouting off about Tyson.”

Tyson Fury

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn speaking to Sky Sports on Monday said he would do everything possible to agree a deal, and both sides would be “clowns” and “idiots” if the fight which could be the biggest in the history of the sport failed to hold.

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“Everybody is very clear on this. Everybody wants this fight — Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, MTK, Top Rank, Frank Warren, Matchroom,” said Hearn, referring to those involved on both sides.

“There are some hurdles to overcome on the broadcasting, but nothing too much.

“I promise you this fight will happen.”

Tyson Fury

Any prospects of a fight between the British heavyweights hinges on the fact Wilder has the option of a rematch with Fury and has 30 days to invoke a clause in his contract.

Hearn says if that happens then Joshua, 30, will face Kubrat Pulev in a mandatory IBF bout, with the promoter in talks to hold the fight at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 20 June.

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Who is Jelena Djokovic? Learn more about the wife of Novak Djokovic and more about the Djokovic family

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Novak Djokovic
Who is Jelena Djokovic? Learn more about the wife of Novak Djokovic and more about the Djokovic family

Jelena Djokovic is the wife of Novak Djokovic and has been supporting the 20-time Grand Slam winner for a long time

Novak Djokovic is one of the top tennis players in the world and is on course to break several records in his career.

Novak Djokovic

The Serbian is now tied with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 Grand Slams under his belt. Djokovic is also the best placed to break this record and more but there is a rock that supports him outside of the tennis court.

Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena Djokovic during an event conducted by their charity organisation, the Novak Djokovic Foundation. (Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Djokovic is regularly cheered on during most of his matches by his wife Jelena – but who is she and what do we know about her?

Who is Novak Djokovic’s wife?
Jelena Djokovic and Novak started dating back in 2005, two years after the Serbian turned pro and have been together since then.

According to sources the pair met each other at school and got engaged in 2013 and married within the next year.

A huge fan of Instagram, Jelena regularly shares photos of her loved ones and husband on her personal feed.

Djokovic’s wife Jelena Djokovic seen supporting her husband during one of his games. (Getty Images)
She is also the director of their charity, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which aims to help children in Serbia realise their dreams by enhancing the country’s education system. Some might not know, but Jelena is also an avid blogger and shares a lot of personal stories and advice.

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How many children do they have?
The couple have two children as of now. They both became parents to a baby boy named Stefan, who was born in October 2014 and three years later Djokovic confirmed that he once again.

This time it was a daughter. They welcomed the arrival of their daughter Tara in September 2017, when Jelena was visibly absent from her husband’s matches during the Wimbledon matches that were happening at the moment.

Djokovic’s wife Jelena Djokovic seen with their Stefan during a match. (Getty Images)
Is Jelena Djokovic always accompanying Novak to Grand Slams?
Unlike most of the other times, Jelena did not accompany her husband a couple of years back in the Australian Open as she was busy taking care of other work.

Novak Djokovic

The fact that Djokovic was missing his family was very evident in his words when he said he was looking forward to meeting his family after being separated from them for more than five weeks due to the tour.

She was also not visible during his Wimbledon campaign prior to the AO despite being in London. She was looking after their daughter Tara while their son Stefan was seen in the Centre Court with Djokovic’s parents.

Djokovic and Jelena during an award ceremony last year. (Getty Images)
It seems she is not in Australia for the 2021 Australian Open. However, Jelena was quick to show her support to her husband. Novak has been going through a tough time in Australia over his Covid-19 vaccination status. The 20-time Grand Slam had been detained in a hotel but has since been released and allowed to participate in the tournament, for now.

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More tennis news:
“It makes me very confident” – Dominic Thiem aware he can now play at a high level in a Grand Slam
Novak Djokovic feels people will appreciate him more once he slows down despite 2020 Australian Open success
“It just counts more” – Dominic Thiem claims he wants to win a Grand Slam when the big-three are still around
Follow our dedicated Tennis page for instant Tennis news and updates

 

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Rafael Nadal’s Belgian ‘childhood Love’ Blasts Media For Hyping Their Past Relationship

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Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal's Belgian 'childhood Love' Blasts Media For Hyping Their Past Relationship

Rafael Nadal got married to his longtime partner Xisca Parello in October last year and so far the couple is really going strong in their married life.

Belgium tennis star Kirsten Flipkins have recently made a shocking revelation that she was involved in a childhood relationship with World No.2 Rafael Nadal. The revelation was made by the women’s World No.77 while talking on a Dutch TV show. Rafael Nadal got married to his longtime partner Xisca Parello in October last year and so far the couple is really going strong in their married life.

Rafael Nadal

Also Read: Novak Djokovic Warns Roger Federer Of Breaking His Record Of 20 Grand Slam Titles Soon

The 2013 Wimbledon women’s singles semi-finalist is currently participating in De Container Cup, a reality program in Belgium, where she was adjudged the top tennis athlete on May 6. Flipkens occupies the 12th position overall in the competition, having been the best performer in the golf category.

Also Read: Rafael Nadal Opts For Diplomacy When Asked To Pick Between Ronaldo And Messi

Kirsten Flipkins on her relationship with Rafael Nadal
Kirsten Flipkins revealed that due to being born in the same year (1986), she used to be a lot around Rafael Nadal when they played in the junior circuit. She further disclosed that when she was 14, she had a huge crush on Rafael Nadal, but since he didn’t speak English at the time, both of them couldn’t go further than being hand-in-hand and a kissing. Her comments not only became a headline but also left her surprised that this news had got fans so interested, considering that was a childhood affair for the two.

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Rafael Nadal

Djezus.. this is such a old news 😅 Is this even news?! We were 14 (!) years old 🙈

— Kirsten Flipkens (@FlipperKF) May 13, 2020
Also Read: Nadal Frustrated By Tennis Lockdown, Federer Happy With Surgery Recovery

Who is Kirsten Flipkens?
Kirsten Flipkens is a 34-year-old Belgian tennis star, who is currently ranked 77th in the world. Kirsten Flipkens has had a solid career as a professional tennis player and even reached the career-high ranking of 13 in the world. She participated in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and had a remarkable victory against Venus Williams. Recently she was fined by the police during a cycle ride after unknowingly riding across the border, entering the Netherlands and paid the price for the violation.

Also read: Novak Djokovic’s Wife Reveals World No.1 Nearly Quit Tennis After Devastating 2018 Loss

Rafael Nadal wife: All you need to know about Xisca Parello
Currently, Rafael Nadal’s wife Xisca Parello is under self-isolation inside the Rafael Nadal house in Spain. Parello has been one of the pillars of strength behind Rafael Nadal and his success as she constantly provides support to her husband in his tough times. According to reports, Rafael Nadal’s wife left her job in insurance to become the project director for the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the charity he founded nearly ten years ago.

Rafael Nadal house: How much is it worth?
Coming to the Rafael Nadal house in Spain, the Spaniard has two homes, one in Mallorca and the other in the other in the Dominican Republic. The Rafael Nadal house in Porto Cristo, Mallorca cost him a fortune, with the Spaniard paying $4.3 million for 7,000 square metres of land in 2013. The house is a quintessential Majorcan stone chalet by the coast in Porto Cristo and was owned by the heirs of the people who established the Caves of Drach.

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Health & Lifestyle

Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles reunites with boyfriend back in Texas at NFL practice

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simone biles
Tokyo Olympics: Simone Biles reunites with boyfriend back in Texas at NFL practice

Simone Biles reunited with boyfriend Jonathan Owens back in Texas as she attended his NFL team’s practice in Houston.

The Olympic great on Thursday arrived back in the United States from Tokyo, where she won a bronze medal in the beam after pulling out of a string of other events to concentrate on her mental health.

Simone Biles

Ms Biles was greeted by her family and hundreds of cheering fans as she arrived back at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport from the Tokyo 2020 games.

She spent the day at the training camp and even posted a picture of their pair together on Instagram

“Morning with bae,” she wrote on on e social media post, while on another she said, “open practices aka bring your girlfriend to work day.”

Ms Biles lives near her parents and currently dates Mr Owens, a defensive player who is on a two-year contract worth $1.39m with the Texans.

“He would say I slid into his DMs,” Ms Biles told The Wall Street Journal.

Simone Biles

“I saw him and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s pretty cute,’ so I said hi … and then I saw that he was in the Houston area, so we started chatting a little bit, and then we went to hang out a week or two later.”

Her sister eventually interrupted a FaceTime call and invited Mr Owens on a lake house trip, to which he brought his English bull dog Zeus, and Ms Biles took along her French bulldog, Lilo.

(AP)
Mr Owen has told Texas Monthly that he did not know who Ms Biles was when they first met, despite her international success and fame.

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Ms Biles, 24, won four Olympic gold medals at Rio 2016 in the team event, the individual all-around, the vault, and the floor exercise, as well as a bronze medal in the balance beam.

Gymnasts have described the predicament as a mental block where the athlete’s body feels disconnected from their brain and they do not know where they are in the air.

Simone Biles

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Roger and Mirka Federer Have His & Hers Rolex Watches

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Roger Federer
Roger and Mirka Federer Have His & Hers Rolex Watches

Roger and Mirka Federer were probably at home enjoying another picturesque morning in Valbella, Switzerland, boning up on their King James Bible, when they stumbled on this line in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one.” Because, earlier this week, the Federers lived the maxim when they were both spotted wearing top-notch Rolex watches. For if one Rolex fails, the other one will keep on ticking for its fellow. This is the type of attitude expected

Roger Federer

from GQ’s Most Stylish Man of the Decade. The honor isn’t earned through an inward, self-centered devotion to dressing well, but from a mindset that permeates everything around him—if Mr. Federer is wearing a great Rolex, Mrs. Federer surely needs to have one on her wrist as well. And what a week in watches it was: Jay-Z is back with another icon, and everyone else unleashed their best bling.

MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA JANUARY 30 Roger Federer of Switzerland speaks during his post match press conference on day eleven…
Morgan Hancock
A silver rolex with a black dial
Switzerland’s Roger Federer’s wife Mirka Federer takes pictures after Federer defeated Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic during…
Greg Wood

Roger Federer
A silver rolex with a diamond encrusted rainbow dial
Roger Federer’s Rolex Day-Date II and Mirka Federer’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Rainbow”
Apologies to Roger, but he must hold two Ls this week. The first is for falling to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at the Australian Open. The second is about watches. Because Rog’s Day-Date II is nice and all, but pales in comparison to the watch his wife wore while watching the match from the stands. Her Rolex Daytona, with a spectrum of sapphires circling around the bezel, is aptly nicknamed the “Rainbow”—fitting not just for the obvious reason, but because every time one appears it’s a day-brightening treat. Mr. Federer is a longtime Rolex ambassador; we’d suggest the brand sign up his wife, too.

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BEVERLY HILLS CALIFORNIA JANUARY 25 JayZ performs onstage during the PreGRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons…
Lester Cohen
A square watch with a gold dial and body
Jay Z’s Jaeger LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin “Tribute 1931”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jay-Z had already hit Watch Bingo. He wore a reversible $2.2 million Patek Philippe, a super-modern Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, a $2.5 million completely unique Richard Mille, plus—and this one was a toughie—he used $40,000 Rolex Daytonas as invites to his gala. But last weekend at the Grammys, Jay-Z showed that his watch knowledge goes deeper than the biggest names in timepieces. He wore yet another watch with a flippable case, this time the iconic Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre. It was first released in 1931 and Jay is wearing the rose-gold 80th-anniversary edition—one of only 500 in the world.

Roger Federer

LOS ANGELES CA JANUARY 26 Trevor Noah attends the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on January 26 2020 in Los…
David Crotty
A gold watch with a red and blue diamond dial and a diamond encrusted face
Trevor Noah’s Rolex GMT Master-II
In 1993, the world was introduced to a revolutionary new product. It bucked the norms of how we expected it to appear—as it had appeared for many decades—by spilling out into your cup as a completely clear liquid rather than the bubbly brown cola people were accustomed to. This product was Crystal Pepsi, and it was not long for this world. In 2020, Trevor Noah brought to Music’s Biggest Night another revolutionary new product. This new product, released in the spring of 2019, is also a twist on a classic, but we think this one has the power to stick around forever. And, for what should be obvious reasons, it only makes sense we would also call this the “Crystal Pepsi” Rolex.

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Former NBA star and owner of Charlotte Hornets team Michael Jordan looks on as NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses a…
Fracnk Fife
A silver rolex with a blue face
Michael Jordan’s Rolex Sky-Dweller
Indefatigable, a global icon, ruthlessly competitive, an innovator, made for flying: these are just a few words and phrases I would use to describe the Rolex Sky-Dweller. Oh, and Michael Jordan, too, last seen pumping up the NBA’s game in Paris between his Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks. His Sky-Dweller, like the GMT, was made for exactly this type of world travel, allowing its wearer to see the time in two different places at once. (Funnily enough, this watch’s reference number starts with the number “32,” which, flipped around is—well, you know!)

Roger Federer

LOS ANGELES CA JANUARY 24 Mark Wahlberg is seen on January 24 2020 in Los Angeles California.
Bauer-Griffin
A black watch with a green dial
Mark Wahlberg’s Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 5271P
Mark Wahlberg’s watches are always a step or two or 100 above what the situation calls for. The actor wears Patek Philippe’s Nautilus during a day on the beach and even swims in the ocean with it. It only makes sense he would need a watch set with 52 emeralds for a casual night out.

LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA JANUARY 26 DJ Khaled and John Legend emrbace during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES…
Kevin Winter

Roger Federer
A silver watch with a diamond encrusted face and dial
John Legend’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Typically an Audemars Piguet guy, John Legend busted out something special and different for the Grammys Sunday night. Legend’s version of the Rolex Daytona is so blinged out it makes even Federer’s Rainbow edition look humble and understated. This is what we talk about when we talk about “iced-out” watches: there are 437 diamonds on this piece alone. Amazingly, they are all factory set, meaning it’s the work of Rolex rather than an after-market jeweler.

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