MARY CARILLO, BILLIE JEAN KING AND JOHN McENROE
TO CALL HBO SPORTS’ LIVE COVERAGE OF THE
“BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP”
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, MAR. 2 (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) exclusively on HBO.
“The notion of having Mary, Billie Jean and John broadcasting 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 broadcast team is long-time tennis commentator and sideline reporter, Michael Barkann. Renowned for the off-beat and fun interview style he’s brought to the U.S. Open sidelines for years, Barkann will handle a similar role for this HBO special.
The “BNP PARIBAS SHOWDOWN FOR THE BILLIE JEAN KING CUP” pits four of the world’s top female tennis players, including 2009 Australian Open Champion Serena Williams, 2008 Grand Slam Champions Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic, along with 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 for the players is $1.2 million.
This event will mark 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,’” said 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 pool of players for this one night event is unprecedented, including three women who over the course of the 2008 season held the World No. 1 ranking and all four of whom have been No. 1 at least once in their career. 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 in Doha.
Serena Williams, currently ranked No. 1 in the latest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings after capturing the 2009 Australian Open Singles and Doubles Championships, holds a total of 46 titles (33 singles / 13 doubles) at Tour events, including 20 Grand Slam titles (ten singles titles, eight doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles). In 2008 Serena played in the finals at Wimbledon and captured her third US Open title when she defeated Jelena Jankovic at the USTA Center in New York and returned to the World No.1 ranking, which she held for four weeks in 2008.
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 and her first ever season ending Sony Ericsson Championships title in Doha. Just recently Venus won the 2009 Australian Open Doubles Championship with sister, Serena. Venus has accumulated a total of 39 career singles and 12 doubles titles, highlighted by 17 Grand Slam titles (seven singles, eight doubles and 2 mixed doubles).
The Williams sisters as a team recently captured the 2009 Australian Open Doubles Championship, the 2008 Wimbledon Doubles Championship and for the second consecutive Olympic Games captured the women’s doubles gold medal. Together they have won a total of 13 doubles championships including eight Grand Slam doubles titles.
The 21-year-old Serbian, Ana Ivanovic, had a career year in 2008. Ivanovic, currently ranked No. 8 in the world, began with a finals appearance at the Australian Open, and then captured her first Grand Slam title with an impressive victory over Dinara Safina in the French Open at Roland Garros allowing her to claim the World No.1 ranking, a mark she would hold for 12 weeks. Ivanovic has now compiled a total of 8 career singles titles.
Rounding out the field will be the former World No. 1 player, Jelena Jankovic. Currently ranked No. 3 in the world, the young Serbian’s consistent play week in and week out led her to reach the quarterfinals or better at 20 of 22 tournaments in 2008, including 4 titles – Rome, Beijing, Stuttgart, and Moscow. Jankovic’s Grand Slam play has resulted in two semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and French Open and of course her memorable match against Serena Williams at the US Open finals.
In this unique format, each participant will compete in a one set, no ad scoring semi-final 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 exists a potential rematch of both the 2008 US Open (Serena Williams vs Jankovic) and Wimbledon finals (Williams vs Williams).
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 time that early round coverage of a championship tennis tournament were televised. HBO carried Wimbledon for 25 years. Among the tennis documentaries produced by HBO Sports were” the 1994 Sports Emmy-Award-winner “Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World,” and the 2006 documentary “Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer,” which captured a Peabody Award.