Charity tennis event to hold court at Petersen
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Rarely do the winners of 43 combined Grand Slam singles championships play second fiddle, especially when three Hall of Famers are in the mix. Yet when Billie Jean King, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Andy Roddick take the court in October at Petersen Events Center, they will be overshadowed by the artist behind nine No. 1 singles, Sir Elton John.
The pop star and King -- 12-time Grand Slam champion -- will take the court first Oct. 16 in their 20th annual night of Smash Hits tennis to benefit foundations combatting AIDS.
"We're really excited about this and we look forward to welcoming fans from all over the country and the world this October," said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at the event's announcement Monday at City Hall.
"It's another opportunity for us to showcase our great city, specifically around a sports event. This is clearly a sports town."
Though more tennis stars will be added to the roster in the coming months, Hall of Famers Agassi and Graf -- who are married -- and Roddick already have signed on for the charity event.
All proceeds from the matches will be split between the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.
All three stars, as well as King, were ranked as the world's No. 1 player at some point in their careers, but it is Graf who leads the Grand Slam count with 22 titles, as well as an Olympic gold medal.
Agassi has eight Grand Slams and also can claim the title of Olympic gold medalist.
Roddick adds one Grand Slam to the tally, the 2003 U.S. Open. Roddick has appeared in four other Grand Slam finals, but fell to Roger Federer in each.
"The most interesting thing you'll see is Elton John playing tennis," said World Team Tennis commissioner Ilana Kloss. "He does play in a pro-celebrity set to kick off the evening. ... He has a huge forehand, but I always joke with him, saying it's a good thing he's got a music career as a backup."
The World Team Tennis event will feature five sets of tennis after John's few swings: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles.
Tickets will go on sale July 16, with an expected capacity of about 7,000.
First Published June 26, 2012 12:00 am