MARY CARILLO, BILLIE JEAN KING AND JOHN MCENROE
TO CALL HBO SPORTS’ LIVE COVERAGE OF
BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP
MARCH 2, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic And Jelena Jankovic To Compete
NEW YORK, Feb. 10, 2009 – Veteran tennis broadcasters Mary Carillo, Billie Jean King and John McEnroe will team up for HBO Sports’ live coverage of the inaugural BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP, it was announced today by Rick Bernstein, executive producer, HBO Sports. Providing lively commentary, timely opinions and revealing analysis, Carillo, King and McEnroe will call all the action from Madison Square Garden as the event airs live MONDAY, MARCH 2 (7:30-11:00 p.m. ET/4:30-8:00 p.m. PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: March 2 (1:00 a.m.) and 3 (7:00 a.m.)
“The notion of having Mary, Billie Jean and John together during our live coverage of the BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP is nirvana for tennis fans in the U.S.,” said Bernstein. “They are three of the most compelling figures in tennis broadcasting, and we’re delighted that they will be in the booth, calling the action for this brand-new event.”
Rounding out the HBO Sports team is longtime tennis commentator and sideline reporter Michael Barkann. Renowned for the offbeat and fun interview style he’s brought to the U.S. Open sidelines for years, Barkann will handle a similar role on this HBO Sports special.
The BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP pits four of the world’s top female tennis players – 2009 Australian Open Champion Serena Williams, 2008 Grand Slam champions Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic, and 2008 year-end World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic – against each other in a one-night-only single elimination event, which will also celebrate tennis legend Billie Jean King. The prize pool is $1.2 million.
In this unique format, each participant will compete in a one-set, no-ad-scoring semifinal, with the winners advancing to a best-of-three-set final (regular scoring with tiebreakers) for the Billie Jean King Cup. Depending on the draw, which will be announced at a later date, there could be a rematch of both the 2008 US Open (Serena Williams vs. Jankovic) and Wimbledon finals (Williams vs. Williams).
This event marks the return of professional tennis to HBO. For 25 consecutive years, beginning in 1975, HBO was the exclusive cable network home of the Wimbledon championships.
“We are very excited to be telecasting the BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP,” says Ross Greenburg, president, HBO Sports. “We have had a relationship with Billie Jean since 1984 and it’s wonderful to be associated with this unique event.”
The unprecedented pool of players for this one-night event includes three women who held the World No. 1 ranking in 2008, while all four have been No. 1 at least once. The grouping also consists of three Grand Slam winners, as well as four of the eight qualifiers of the WTA Championships, which was recently captured by Venus Williams.
Serena Williams, ranked No. 1 in the latest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings after capturing the 2009 Australian Open Women’s Singles and Doubles Championships, holds 46 titles (33 singles, 13 doubles) at Tour events, including 20 Grand Slam titles (ten singles, eight doubles and two mixed doubles). In 2008 Williams played in the finals at Wimbledon and captured her third US Open title when she defeated Jelena Jankovic, returning to the World No. 1 ranking, which she subsequently held four weeks.
Venus Williams, a former World No. 1, is currently ranked No. 6 and is the reigning Wimbledon champion. In 2008 she captured her fifth Wimbledon title in the past nine years, as well as her first season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships title in Doha; she also recently won the 2009 Australian Open Women’s Doubles Championship with her sister Serena. Williams has accumulated 39 singles and 12 doubles titles, highlighted by 17 Grand Slam titles (seven singles, eight doubles and two mixed doubles).
Along with the 2009 Australian Open Women’s Doubles Championship, the Williams sisters recently captured the 2008 Wimbledon Women’s Doubles Championship and, for the second consecutive Olympic Games, the women’s doubles gold medal. Together they have won 13 doubles championships, including eight Grand Slam doubles titles.
Currently ranked No. 8 in the world, 21-year-old Serbian Ana Ivanovic had a career year in 2008. She began with a finals appearance at the Australian Open, then captured her first Grand Slam title with an impressive victory over Dinara Safina in the French Open, allowing her to claim the World No. 1 ranking, which she held for 12 weeks. Ivanovic has won eight singles titles to date.
Rounding out the field is former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic. Currently ranked No. 3 in the world, the young Serbian’s consistent play took her to the quarterfinals or better at 20 of 22 tournaments in 2008, including four titles, in Rome, Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow. Jankovic’s Grand Slam play has resulted in semifinal appearances at the Australian Open and French Open, and a memorable match against Serena Williams at the US Open finals.
HBO Sports has brought the best in sports to television for more than three decades, from world championship boxing events, to intriguing documentaries and specials, to compelling all-access reality programming, to the most provocative sports magazine shows on TV. In 1975, HBO Sports acquired the cable television rights to Wimbledon, marking the first televised early-round coverage of a championship tennis tournament. HBO carried Wimbledon for 25 years. Among HBO Sports’ tennis documentaries are the 1994 Sports Emmy® winner “Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World” and the 2006 presentation “Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer,” which captured a Peabody Award.