WTT Smash Hits Raises $500,000 For AIDS Charities
Published October 28, 2011 12:49
CLEVELAND, OH, USA - The 19th annual WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO was held at historic Cleveland Public Hall on Thursday night. Hosted as ever by tennis legend Billie Jean King and music superstar Elton John, the event raised more than $500,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland.
Before the on-court action began, the co-hosts and players attended a pre-match reception and live auction. The top auction items of the night were the two popular Billie Jean King hitting sessions, which King served up for $17,000 each; other items included a 2012 Super Bowl Package, two Elton John-signed piano benches, hitting sessions with Andy Roddick and Martina Navratilova, and a French Open package.
As the focus switched to the tennis court, Sir Elton partnered Navratilova to a 4-3 (5-4) victory against John McEnroe and Amélie Mauresmo in a celebrity doubles set. Then things got 'serious'. With a crowd of 3,477 fans cheering on, Team Elton (Roddick, Mark Knowles, Mauresmo and Lauren Davis) recovered from an early 10-3 deficit to edge Team Billie Jean (McEnroe, Jan-Michael Gambill, Navratilova, Coco Vandeweghe) by a scoreline of 19-18.
After the men's and women's singles and doubles and the mixed had been played, the two sides were locked at 18-18. Roddick sealed the victory for Team Elton by beating Gambill in a Supertiebreaker, 7-1.
"It's a great experience playing with Sir Elton John… I love his music," said teenager Davis, who hails from Ohio but now trains at the Evert Tennis Academy in Florida. "Growing up watching these players on TV, it's so cool to be here."
Over the past two decades WTT Smash Hits has raised more than $10.5 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local charities throughout the US.
"You have to make sure you can give the money raised to the right people," said John during a pre-match press conference. "Our challenge now is to get medicine to people who can't afford it, and get rid of the stigma that's still associated with AIDS."
For more information on WTT Smash Hits, visit www.WTT.com/SmashHits. To see more fun photos, click here.