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PRESS RELEASE: MSG Plus And ESPN2 To Televise The BNP Paribas Showdown

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Press Release


Ana Ivanovic Faces Kim Clijsters
Venus Williams Takes On Svetlana Kuznetsova
at MSG

New York, NY, February 22, 2010
– Madison Square Garden and StarGames announced today that MSG Plus and ESPN2 will televise the 2010 BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean Cup on Monday, March 1, live with MSG Plus showing the semifinals and ESPN2 presenting the finals. The one-day, single-elimination tournament will include four of the world’s top female tennis players – Svetlana Kuznetova, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic – at Madison Square Garden.

Starting at 7:00 p.m. ET, MSG Plus will televise two semifinal matches with World No. 17 Clijsters facing No. 23 Ivanovic and No. 4 Kuznetsova taking on No. 5 Williams. At 9:00 p.m. ESPN 2 will air the final match. All three matches will also be available on broadband ESPN360.com.

“It is exciting for us to have the BNP Paribas Showdown carried live by two prestigious networks,” said Jerry Solomon, President & CEO, StarGames Inc. “The combination of MSG Plus and ESPN2 gives us wall-to-wall coverage and ensures that fans all over the country who are celebrating Tennis Night in America with us, will have the opportunity to see these great players square off for the Billie Jean King Cup.”

For the second year in a row, the BNP Paribas Showdown will feature four of the top women in tennis. The four participants have a combined career record of 1630-493 and have won a total of 12 Grand Slams and 98 WTA titles. Three of the four women have been ranked No. 1 at least once in their careers; Kuznetsova reached the No. 2 ranking in 2007.

Both MSG Plus and ESPN2 will showcase leading on-air commentators during the event. One of the most respected broadcasters in sports, Ted Robinson, will call play-by play for the semifinals while former World No. 1 player and three-time Grand Slam winner, Lindsay Davenport, will serve as analyst. MSG’s Scott Lasky will handle reporter duties for the semifinal matches. ESPN2’s coverage of the final will feature two prominent tennis commentators: Chris Fowler, host of the network’s coverage of all four Grand Slam events, alongside seven-time WTA Tour winner Mary Joe Fernandez.

The BNP Paribas Showdown features a unique set of rules. The semifinal matches will consist of only one set while the final match will be best of three. There will be no ad scoring in either round. The four participants will compete for a $1.2 million prize pool.

The “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” is the featured element of the national “Tennis Night in America” promotion. Through “Tennis Night in America”, the USTA will continue its efforts to grow youth participation in the sport of tennis. “Tennis Night in America” is among the sports largest ever grass roots initiatives. The USTA has made this event a major component for its Youth Registration Night, where youth from all over the country can begin signing up for spring and summer league play beginning on Friday, February 26th through March 1st. To find a sign-up location please go to www.tennisnight.com.

Title partner BNP Paribas has returned for a second year, continuing their strong commitment to support the sport of tennis. BNP Paribas will be joined by Official Partners Caesars Atlantic City, Delta Air Lines, FIJI Water, Fila, FXDD, Jumeirah Essex House, Lexus, NASDAQ OMX, Optimum, Rums of Puerto Rico, Sportime Tennis Clubs, Steuben Glass, Tennis.com, Travelers Insurance, Ubisoft and Wilson.

At the 2009 event, Venus Williams defeated Jelena Jankovic and Serena Williams defeated Ana Ivanovic in the semifinal matches. Serena then defeated her sister 6-4, 6-3 for the inaugural championship.

Serena Williams, the Billie Jean King Cup’s defending champion, has withdrawn from the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown, scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2010 at Madison Square Garden, it was announced today.

Williams, who qualified for the Showdown based on her 2009 victories at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, has withdrawn due to a leg injury sustained during her recent run to the Australian Open Championships. This injury has also forced Williams out of WTA events in Paris and Dubai.

Former French Open Champion, Ana Ivanovic has been added to round out the field. Only current and former Grand Slam champions or year ending World No. 1 ranked players are eligible for the one night event.

"I'm very disappointed I won't be able to compete in the Billie Jean King Cup this year,” said Williams. “I loved playing in this event last year and was really looking forward to returning to New York and Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately I am still recovering from my leg injury in Australia and am not quite ready to compete at the highest level. I wish the event a great success and look forward to seeing my fans in New York in the fall."

Posted by Shelia

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