HBO Makes Tennis Return With Charity Event


Home Box Office will take another swing at tennis, airing a special live women’s single elimination tournament in March from Madison Square Garden in New York.

The March 2 “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” will match four of the top women tennis players -- Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic in a one-night only single elimination event, according to the pay TV network.

The $1.2 million event, the featured component of the national “Tennis Night in America” promotion, is produced by StarGames in association with Madison Square Garden. The event will benefit the Dream Vaccines Foundation and Women's Sports Foundation. 

The players will each play a one-set elimination match, with the two winners meeting in a three-set final.

The event, also celebrating tennis icon King, will mark the first live tennis telecast for HBO since it dropped its 25-year relationship with Wimbledon in 1999. The prestigious grass court tourney from England now airs on ESPN.

Madison Square Garden was that scene this past March of an exhibition tennis match between Roger Federer and Pete Sampras that was the inaugural event on MSG Network Plus and also aired Tennis Channel.

 “We are very excited to be telecasting the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup,” said Ross Greenburg, president HBO Sports in a statement. “We have had a relationship with Billie Jean since 1984 and it’s wonderful to be associated with this unique event.”

Added King:  "I am honored to be part of an event that showcases Serena, Venus, Jelena, and Ana – four of the best players in women's tennis today -- in one of the most storied tennis venues in the world. This collection of players, competing in this spectacular venue, in an event that benefits the Women's Sports Foundation and other organizations, is the perfect mix to deliver an exciting and entertaining celebration of women's sports and tennis."