Archive for the 'Billie Jean King' Category


WTT raises over $500,000 for EJ’s AIDS Foundation.

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.


WTT Smash Hits is coming to D.C. on Nov.15.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King and music superstar Sir Elton John are teaming up for their annual charity event — the 18th annual WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO on November 15, 2010 at the Bender Arena at American University in Washington, D.C. This star studded event will raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local Washington, D.C. Area AIDS charities.

Billie Jean King and Elton John will each captain a team composed of tennis champions Andre Agassi, James Blake, Stefanie Graf, Anna Kounikova, Martina Navratilova and more who will play the World TeamTennis format. In 2009, Elton John won his 9th overall Smash Hits 16 -13 as Tommy Haas defeated Andy Roddick 5 – 2 in the final set. Despite a strong showing by Team King, Tommy Haas was just too much as he won all three of his sets. Even though it did not count towards the overall match score, Elton John and Serena Williams defeated Andy Roddick and Anna Kournikova 4 – 3 in a celebrity match to open the night.

Last year’s event raised $640,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and AIDS charities serving the Greater Baton Rouge area. Smash Hits has raised more than $9 million for EJAF and various local AIDS charities since 1993.


Don’t miss tennis on the White House lawn tomorrow!

 Billie Jean King will lead a tennis clinic for local youth with first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday. The hour-long event will take place on the South Lawn of the White House.

After Venus Williams made an appearance in downtown D.C. last week, the District won’t see sister Serena this summer. The younger Williams, who was scheduled to play Wednesday in Washington for World Team Tennis’s Washington Kastles, will not take the court at all this season for the Kastles because of a foot injury. She was scheduled to play in four matches this season for Washington.

“I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to play in the WTT matches this season,” Williams said in a news release. “It is always such a fun experience and I love interacting with the fans in the cities that I don’t often have the opportunity to play in during the rest of the year.”

According to the news release, Williams cut her foot, which caused her to miss Friday’s match against the New York Buzz. She was also penciled in to play in Philadelphia on Tuesday and New York on Thursday in addition to her appearance in Washington on Wednesday against the Kansas City Explorers.


WTT Smash Hits raise a bundle for Aids charities.

They laid down a DecoTurf court on the floor of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, rolled out waves of racquet-wielding star power and transformed the Deaf Dome into a tennis fan’s fantasy.

On one end of LSU’s basketball arena, Billie Jean King watched Andy Roddick produce laser-beam serves and Lindsay Davenport, a three-time Grand Slam singles champ, chase Serena Williams backhands.

On the other, Sir Elton John, who generally rocks such venues from a piano bench, coached a team that included Anna Kournikova and Williams, the world’s No. 1 female player.

Welcome to the 17th World TeamTennis Smash Hits, Tuesday night’s fundraiser to benefit the Elton John AIDs foundation and various AIDs charities in the Baton Rouge area.

“Just being around these guys,” said NCAA singles champion Devin Britton, a former Ole Miss star who turned pro this summer, “it’s been fun for me.”

The PMAC has seen its share of big names, no doubt. But the likes of Pete Maravich, Bob Pettit and Shaquille O’Neal, whose numbers hang from the arena’s rafters, never volleyed and served.

Presented by the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and hosted by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Smash Hits gave the community’s tennis junkies the chance of a lifetime.

Roddick and the others entertained the crowd of 4,317 with humor as much as skill. Especially Roddick, who wore a white cap backward and smiled most of the night.

“You think you can boss me around?” Roddick snarled, jokingly, when doubles partner Kournikova gave him some ribbing during a celebrity doubles match to begin the event.

But it wasn’t all good fun and good tennis.

Smash Hits entered its 17th year looking to build on the more than $9 million it has raised for the Elton John AIDs Foundation and various AIDs charities in host cities. Its first appearance in Louisiana came in part because Baton Rouge and New Orleans have some of the nation’s highest rates of reported AIDs cases.

The event raised $640,000, the most since 2005 in Hershey, Pa. More than $200,000 will go to local AIDs charities.

“I knew when I was 12 that I wanted to make a difference,” said King, one of the most influential sports figures of her time. “Tennis ended up being my platform.”

King’s ties to Smash Hits go through John, whose friendship with King dates to her “Battle of the Sexes” breakthrough.

In the 1970s, John wrote “Philadelphia Freedom” for King.

Partners in Smash Hits since 1993, the two became rivals — they do so once a year — when their teams stepped onto the DecoTurf court for Tuesday’s main event.

Team Elton: Jan-Michael Gambill, Tommy Haas, Kournikova and Williams.

Team Billie Jean: Roddick, Britton, Davenport, Liezel Huber and Chanda Rubin, a Lafayette native once ranked sixth in the world.

And though it’s all in good fun, John, who wore an LSU tennis shirt, and King had a score to settle: each star coached the winning team eight times in 16 previous Smash Hits meetings.

“If we win,” King said before the match, “I can give Elton a bad time the next 365 days. I love to give him a bad time.”

Team Elton won 5-4, 1-5, 5-2 in a modified WTT format to give his team a 9-8 series advantage.

But Tuesday, John and King provided a good time. For a good cause.

They transformed a basketball arena into a playground, a talent show and a fundraising venue.

“Thank you Baton Rouge,” John said into a microphone during a break in play. “Thank you so much.”

Courtesy   Scott Howard  The Advocate


WTT Smash Hits, Baton Rouge, Dec 8th.

The 66-year-old King’s tennis playing days are over, thanks to knee replacement surgery. But she’s excited about getting to watch the lineup coming to Baton Rouge on Dec 8th., a city she played an exhibition match in 20 years ago. That list includes Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Anna Kournikova, Tommy Haas, Lindsay Davenport, Liezel Huber, Devin Britton and Louisiana’s own Chanda Rubin. Next season Martina Hingis is rumoured to be joining the WTT league.

“I love Chanda,” King said. “She’s given back so much; I’m so glad she’s going to be part of Smash Hits. It’s just a great lineup … one of the best we’ve had in years.”

The players will form the two teams captained by King and John, who will also participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event.

Prior to the match, special VIP ticket holders can meet King and John at a reception and silent auction beginning at 5 p.m. Proceeds from the $1,000 per person get-together benefit local AIDS charities.


An interview with Billie Jean King.

kingWhat was the best thing about being a player in your era?

Being part of women’s tennis, a movement in transition, and starting new traditions in the game really helped us see both sides in tennis and in life. The memory that stands out was the day nine of us signed symbolic $1 contracts in 1970, and women’s professional tennis was born. I’ve always said sport is just about the toughest career a female can choose and it takes strong women to make a stand. Equal prize money was a long way off in those days but we made that stand.

What was the worst thing about tennis in your era?

The downside of playing when the sport was going from the amateur to the open era was the restlessness and not knowing what was coming next. It was a tumultuous time, full of upheaval and lacking clarity.

Who was the best coach you had, and why were they the best?

I was blessed to have different coaches for different period of my career. Clyde Walker helped me love tennis, Mervyn Rose and Frank Brennan Sr helped me get to the world No.1 spot and my college coaches, Dr Joan Johnson and Scotty Deeds, taught me so much.

Who was the best player you played against?

It would be wrong for me to single anyone out. Margaret Smith, who later became Margaret Court, was tough and I had to learn how to accept defeat in major finals against her. Later in my career, Chris Evert and Martina [Navratilova] were so hard to play against in different ways.

What was the best venue you played at?

There is only ever going to be one answer to this: Wimbledon. I was 17 years old when I first set eyes on the manicured grass in 1961 and it was an overwhelming moment. Every year when I return to the All England Club, I always take a moment to sit by Centre Court before the crowds pour in and reflect on the sport that I love so much.

Who do you rate as the best player in the female game today?

I wouldn’t like to pick anyone out but the Williams sisters have done a lot for the women’s game and hopefully will do a lot more. Serena had all the attributes to become the greatest woman ever to play the game. Venus has distinguished herself as the sort of person to lead the women’s game as a figurehead and said some noble things during the battle for equal prize money.

What is the worst thing about the game today?

The basic lack of the unity that existed in my playing days. Too many players just seem to think about themselves. Honestly, I wish there were two separate seasons; one for individual competitions and another for players to compete on a team. Today’s players need to get to know each other better and one of the great things about the world of sport is the unity of team spirit.

What was the best advice you were given as a player?

My parents always told me to just do what you love and do the best you can. My first coach, Clyde Walker, always reinforced that view.

Where are you now?

I’ve just enjoyed watching another US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, and that always feels pretty neat. I am 65 years old and a small businesswoman heavily involved in World TeamTennis. We’ve just completed our 34th pro season and I am still working hard to put more team play into tennis. I am also very involved in the Women’s Sports Foundation [which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year]. I still care deeply and campaign strongly on many issues but I remain convinced one thing is imperative for professional tennis to move forward and that is for the men’s game and the women’s game finally to come together under one banner

Courtesy  The Times.

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