Photo: Paul ZimmerLi Na (CHN)
The ITF has announced that Hong Kong will stage an event to celebrate World Tennis Day on March 4 next year.
The BNP Paribas Showdown, which will feature an exhibition match between Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki, joins its namesake at New York’s Madison Square Garden as one of the highlights of a new initiative to promote tennis around the world.
The event at the AsiaWorld-Arena will also see two legends of the men’s game renewing their rivalry when eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl takes on seven-time major winner John McEnroe.
“For me it is always exciting to play in Asia,” said Li. “I hope to have the crowd support in this match. It will be a great night for tennis, and hopefully it gets more people playing the game.”
Her opponent was equally enthusiastic about spreading the message about her sport: “It’s great to have the chance to play in Hong Kong again,” said Wozniacki. “It’s also exciting to be part of the first World Tennis Day. I hope it’s successful in getting more kids playing around the world.”
One of the ideas behind World Tennis Day is to promote Tennis10s, which tailors the game to younger players with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring.
“World Tennis Day and the BNP Paribas Showdown will bring more attention to Tennis Play and Stay and Tennis10s, two programmes with proven success in growing participation,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.
“World Tennis Day will give the ITF and our member nations an opportunity to showcase their efforts to grow tennis, while fans can also enjoy some of the game’s brightest stars playing in events like the BNP Paribas Showdown.”
The BNP Paribas Showdown will be produced by StarGames, in conjunction with the Hong Kong Tennis Association. It marks the first time the AsiaWorld-Arena has played host to such an international tennis event.
“Once more, BNP Paribas is proud to bring the best of tennis to Asia by supporting this outstanding sporting event, as it does with the same acclaimed tennis event in New York. We are excited to share our passion and enthusiasm for tennis with the fans in Hong Kong” said Paul Yang, Chief Executive Officer for BNP Paribas Hong Kong.
“The BNP Paribas Showdown gives the bank a perfect opportunity to accelerate the growing awareness of our brand in Asia and it reaffirms our commitment and loyalty to this region and to this sport.”
The matches will take place the same night as an event with the same name is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the first annual World Tennis Day. Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka in the first match in New York, followed by Rafael Nadal against Juan Martin del Potro.
“With five successful years of the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York, the time is right to expand this to a global event with the World Tennis Day platform,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames.
“The popularity of tennis in Asia made it natural for us to pursue an event in this region. Hong Kong is proving to be a fantastic partner, and BNP Paribas, as the world’s biggest sponsor of tennis, is the perfect title sponsor.
“I am excited to see this group of four players who will put on a great show. Lendl, McEnroe and Wozniacki have each played for us at the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York in front of crowds of over 17,000 at Madison Square Garden and we now welcome Li Na to the group for the first time. The AsiaWorld-Arena will be the place to be on March 4.”
Tickets for the event will go on sale on Monday, November 26, at 10am (2am GMT) at HK Ticketing Outlets which are located at AsiaWorld-Expo, all Tom Lee Stores, HKCEC, HKAPA and Fringe Club. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.hkticketing.com or by calling the HK Ticketing Ticket Purchase Hotline on 31 288 288 from 10am-8pm.