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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."

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BNP Paribas Showdown For The Billie Jean King Cup

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Press Release

Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova & Kim Clijsters

Headline The Second Annual

"BNP Paribas Showdown For The Billie Jean King Cup"

Madison Square Garden On Monday, March 1, 2010

A Tennis Night In America Event

New York, NY, December 2, 2008 – The top women in the world of tennis, including current World No. 1 player Serena Williams, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, 2009 US Open champion Kim Clijsters and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, will face off in the one-night, single elimination $1.2 million “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” at Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 1, 2010.

Limited VIP tickets and additional tickets for $250.00, $125.00, $75.00, $50.00 and $25.00 went on sale TODAY and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.thegarden.com.

“At Madison Square Garden we strive to bring the biggest and best in sports and entertainment under our roof,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports. “We are thrilled that these women’s tennis champions will be plying their trade at the second annual BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup, and that our fans will get to witness a great, great night of tennis at The Garden.”

“We are looking forward to an exciting night of tennis with some potential interesting matchups including a rematch of the US Open semifinals between Serena and Kim,” said StarGames president Jerry Solomon, referring to the matches controversial ending. “With the return of great sponsors like BNP Paribas and the growth of our Tennis Night in America partnership with the USTA, the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup is emerging as a night that brings tennis fans around the country together to celebrate the sport. It is certainly a night that tennis fans should have on their annual calendar.”

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.

The caliber of players for the event is unparalleled, boasting three of 2009’s Grand Slam tournament winners, including defending champion Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, who stunned the tennis world with her Cinderella-like U.S. Open victory only two years after retiring from the sport. The grouping also consists of 2009 French Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and seven-time Grand Slam Singles Champion, Venus Williams.

Serena Williams, the current top-ranked women’s player, captured two Grand Slam events this past year winning her 10
th and 11th singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. She holds an astounding total of 52 titles (35 singles / 17 doubles) at Tour events. Serena, 28, defeated her sister, Venus, in this past summer’s Wimbledon singles’ finals, and the pair teamed up to once again win the doubles tournament.

Venus Williams, a 29-year-old former World No. 1, is currently ranked No. 6 and won the 2008 Wimbledon and Tour Championship titles. The Williams sisters paired up for patriotic pride to capture their second consecutive Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles.

Rounding out the field is defending French Open Champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian-born player is currently ranked No. 3 in the world and her Grand Slam title was her first since winning the US Open five years ago.

In this fast-paced no ad scoring format, each participant will compete in a one-set semi-final with the winners advancing to a best of three-set final for the Billie Jean King Cup.

Depending on the draw, which will be announced at a later date, a potential rematch of the 2009 US Open semifinal (Serena Williams vs. Kim Clijsters), Wimbledon finals (Williams vs. Williams) and French Open quarterfinal (Serena vs. Kuznetsova) could take place.

The “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” is produced by StarGames in association with Madison Square Garden.

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Venus Wiliams Hopes To Play Serena At Garden

Monday, February 16, 2009

Note: Near the end of this article, after stating that Venus Williams has not changed her mind about playing Indian Wells, the article implies that the sole reason she and Serena are not playing is because they were booed after Venus defaulted with an injured knee.

If you recall, the sisters and their father, Richard Williams, have stated that they encountered racist behavior in Indian Wells.

In a November 2008 interview with the New York Times Serena Williams stated:

“I’m not going to be playing at Indian Wells. I’ve had some extremely life-altering things that happened to me there. So I told Larry Scott there are things that happened there that he understands shouldn’t happen, especially me being African-American. We’ve been struggling for so long. I try to stand up for what I believe in. I won’t be able to say anything positive about Indian Wells. If they really want me to promote it, then honestly, I don’t know what to say.”


AP/New York: Venus Williams wants to play her top-ranked sister when women's tennis returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time in nearly nine years.

Williams will join Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic on March 2 in the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup. They will compete for $1.2 million in prize money.

"I'm hoping for an all-Williams final," Venus said Wednesday during a conference call. "That would be most exciting for us and, of course, for the fans. I love playing with Serena, against her and in doubles."

The single-elimination exhibition will feature three players who won Grand Slam titles in 2008. Ivanovic won her first major at the French Open, Venus won Wimbledon and Serena won the U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Jankovic held the No. 1 ranking for part of last season.

The draw will be held later this month, and they will compete in a one-set, no-ad scoring semifinal. The winners will play a best-of-three final.

In her only appearance at Madison Square Garden, Venus lost in the 1999 WTA season-ending tournament.

"There is an unbelievable amount of tennis tradition there for the women," she said. "It was the pinnacle of the season. I feel honored to be playing."

The Garden hosted its final WTA season-ending championships in 2000. Williams captured her first season-ending event last November in Doha, Qatar.

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras played an exhibition match last March at the Garden, the first men's pro tennis competition there since 1996.

The Williams sisters last faced off at the Wimbledon final. They've combined to win the last three Grand Slam singles titles, so the goal is to stay healthy throughout the season.

"As long as that happens, I really play good tennis," said Williams, who teamed with Serena to win the Australian Open doubles title. "I love the challenge. If it wasn't challenging, we wouldn't love it as much as we do."

Williams will compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, which begin Sunday. She hasn't changed her mind about skipping the tournament next month at Indian Wells, Calif., one of the mandatory events on the WTA schedule. In 2001, Venus defaulted with a knee injury before a semifinal match against Serena and they were booed by the crowd.

She said King, an investor in the Indian Wells tournament, hasn't tried to persuade her to play.

"I don't think that's her job or her aim," Venus said. "With Billie, her whole intention has been if I'm OK and happy more than anything else."

Venus said she hasn't been paying close attention to the recent steroid revelations in baseball. She considers tennis "a completely different sport."

"You have to hold your nerve, and I don't know if there's a drug for that," she said. "Tennis has a pretty good record and we continually test."

The showdown will be broadcast on HBO. It's part of "Tennis Night in America," an effort by the U.S. Tennis Association to get youth signed up to play.

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