Tennis’ top names rallied for charity at WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO on Monday night at American University in Washington, D.C., raising more than $500,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Washington AIDS Partnership. Team Billie Jean defeated Team Elton 19-15 to tie their overall series at 9-9. In its 18-year history, WTT Smash Hits has raised more than $10 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local charities throughout the U.S. Captained by longtime friends Billie Jean King and Sir Elton John, the Smash Hits players formed two teams and faced off in a modified World TeamTennis match, playing one set each of men’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Sir Elton John started the evening off in style in a celebrity set by teaming with tennis great Martina Navratilova for a 4-1 win over the husband and wife tandem of Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf. Elton John delighted the sellout crowd with his solid forehand play, including several winners. The WTT match kicked off with men’s doubles as Agassi partnered with Jan-Michael Gambill to face Mark Philippoussis and Eric Butorac. With a strong showing from both sides, Team Elton prevailed defeating Team Billie 5-4. The women’s doubles set pitted Anna Kournikova and Graf up against Navratilova and Rennae Stubbs, with Billie Jean’s players taking the set 5-3 and the lead over Elton’s team. At the halfway point, Team Billie Jean held a 9-8 lead which was extended when Philippoussis posted a 5-3 win over Agassi in men’s singles to increase the margin to 14-11. With the match on the line in the final set of mixed doubles, Agassi and Kournikova fought off Navratilova and Philippoussis through four games, taking the set to a tiebreak, but their effort fell just short in forcing overtime. The 5-4 win for Team Billie Jean King gave them the match with a final score of 19-15.
Before the on-court action began, the co-hosts and players attended a pre-match reception and live auction, which raised $267,000 of the evening’s total. The top auction items of the night were the two popular Billie Jean King Wimbledon Packages, which King served up for $32,000 each. Another coveted item was a hitting session with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf – a package that went for $50,000. Other auction items were a 2011 Super Bowl Package, two Elton John-signed piano benches and a French Open package. Fifty percent of the funds raised by the auction will support programs in Washington AIDS Partnership.