Stars Serve an Ace for Tennis Research
Andy Roddick might be the future of American tennis, but on Thursday night, Pete Sampras showed the young superstar why he is still considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Highlighting the 14th annual World Team Tennis Smash Hits, Sampras defeated Roddick in consecutive sets 5-3, 5-3, to give Team Billie Jean a 15-10 victory over Team Elton John at the Bren Events Center.
The event raised over $350,000 dollars for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and featured tennis superstars Billie Jean King, Anna Kournikova, Rennae Stubbs and musical legend Sir Elton John.
King (who did not play), Sampras and Stubbs represented Team Billie Jean, while Team Elton was comprised of Roddick, Kournikova and John.
World Team Tennis has helped raise nearly eight million dollars for the AIDS Foundation over the past 14 years, raising the total aid given to the foundation to over $100 million worldwide.
The evening was co-hosted by John and King, who are long-time friends and respected philanthropists.
‘[John] is really prolific because he gives back so much and it is a privilege to do this tonight and help the foundation,’ King said.
Before the matches, both teams helped auction off extravagant items including a baby grand piano signed by John, which sold for $25,000 and a trip to the men’s and women’s 2007 Wimbledon final in King’s personal Centre Court seats, which brought in two winning bids at $20,000 each.
While John did not sing, he showcased his tennis skills in the celebrity doubles match where he joined with Roddick in what was labeled as ‘The Battle of Sexes’ against Kournikova and Stubbs.
Unlike in 1973, when King famously defeated male chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the most notable ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ Thursday night belonged to the men. On match point, John smashed a baseline winner past Kournikova to give the males the set at 5-2.
During the mixed doubles, which resulted in Sampras and Stubbs narrowly defeating Roddick and Kournikova 5-4, many players helped create a humorous and entertaining atmosphere for the fans.
During the match, ushers had to pass out baseball gloves to many fans in the front row because Roddick, who holds the record for fastest serve in tennis history at 153.5 mph, was hitting aces so hard the ball was flying into the stands. Later in the match, when a song by Kournikova’s boyfriend singer Enrique Iglesias was played over the loud speakers, Roddick pulled off his best Iglesias impersonation as he started to sing into his racket and dance toward a blushing Kournikova. Sampras also got into the fun by letting fans know that he was on top of his game.
‘Two-two, second serve,’ Sampras said. ‘This is where I hit an ace.’ A second later, Sampras’ serve left Roddick motionless, just like he predicted with an ace down the left side of the court.
Most fans were still anticipating the marquee match of the night between Roddick and Sampras.
The match was reminiscent of the 2002 U.S. Open, where Sampras defeated Roddick in the quarterfinals