Legends Ball to honor BBC

September 6, 2012

NEWPORT, R.I. — With US Open finals weekend just around the corner, so is The Legends Ball, the annual gala celebration of tennis hosted by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. The event will gather hundreds of tennis enthusiasts, industry leaders, and stars of the sport, including recent retiree Kim Clijsters and legends like Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, and more, at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. The Legends Ball will pay tribute to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2012- Jennifer Capriati, Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Mike Davies, and Randy Snow, and it will recognize one individual and one organization that have shown an exceptional commitment to the growth of the sport. The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award, which is presented to an organization, will be awarded to the BBC, which has delivered an outstanding year of tennis coverage, including Wimbledon and the London 2012 Olympic Games, and is in their 85th year of covering the sport. BBC Sport’s tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend will be at the event to accept the award. It was previously announced that the other award of the evening, the Eugene L. Scott Award, will be awarded to Chris Evert and presented by Billie Jean King.

The Cullman Award is given in honor of the man who served as president and chairman of the Hall of Fame from 1982-1988, and recognizes an exceptional company that shares Cullman’s enthusiasm for tennis and has also made a significant contribution to society at large- both philanthropically and through outstanding generosity of spirit.

“The BBC has been a dedicated broadcast partner to the sport of tennis for a remarkable 85 years. In recent months they’ve delivered extraordinary coverage of Wimbledon, as well as some of the most exciting Olympic tennis the world has ever experienced. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum’s Legends Ball is an opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding contributors to the sport of tennis who have played an instrumental role in its growth. We are so pleased to present the Cullman Award to the BBC to say thank you for all they’ve done to spread tennis news and deliver its most important moments to the fans,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.

The BBC brought tennis to the airwaves of Great Britain in 1927, with the first radio coverage of Wimbledon. This contract with the All England Lawn Tennis Club continues today- making it the longest running multiplatform rights contract in world sport.

The BBC has always strived to bring technological innovation to tennis- the first ever live television coverage of a sports event (1937), first color TV broadcast (1967), first use of Hawkeye in tennis, first multi-platform coverage, and in 2011, the first ever 3D transmission on the BBC. As host broadcaster at Wimbledon, the BBC currently brings live coverage of the event from nine courts, producing over 900 hours of tennis coverage distributed to 160 countries. Over the years, many great voices of the sport have delivered BBC’s coverage, including Dan Maskell, “The Voice of Tennis” for BBC from 1949 -1991, John Barratt, Bill Threlfall, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. Today’s team is led by Sue Barker and includes John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Lindsay Davenport, Virginia Wade, Tracy Austin, John Lloyd, Pat Cash, and Tim Henman.

As well as Wimbledon, the BBC covered many World Championship Tennis tour events throughout the 1970’s, and has been the host broadcaster for Olympic tennis from Atlanta, Athens, and London, with live coverage everyday from the 2012 Olympics. Over the years the BBC has covered all the Grand Slams with many years at the French and Australian Opens. Additional tennis coverage has included annual tournaments such as Queens, Eastbourne, and Bournemouth, as well as Davis Cup, Wightman Cup, the ATP World Tour Finals, and the Masters events from The Royal Albert Hall.

Today’s multi-platform coverage includes the Wimbledon Championships, as well as the Australian Open Finals, the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals, and the AEGON Championshpis at Queen’s Club on television. BBC Radio 5 Live has commentary from all four Grand Slams, all the key ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and Wimbledon warm-up events, plus key Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties. News and reports throughout the year across BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC news channel, and BBC sport online round out the tennis coverage.

Previous recipients of the Cullman Award have been: BNP Paribas (2006); Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. (2007); Sony Ericsson (2008); Tennis Channel (2009); Mercedes-Benz (2010); and Campbell Soup Company (2011).

An impressive collection of tennis greats will be in attendance at the Legends Ball, including current players, Hall of Famers, executive leaders from the ATP World Tour, WTA, ITF, and Grand Slam tournaments and tennis fans from around the world. In celebration of their Hall of Fame Induction, which occurred in July, speaking programs and video presentations will pay tribute to former world No. 1’s Jennifer Capriati and Gustavo Kuerten, Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, tennis industry innovator and promoter Mike Davies, and the late wheelchair tennis champion, Randy Snow.

Always a highlight of the evening, The Legends Ball silent auction will feature an array of exclusive experiences and luxury items that will excite tennis fans and non-tennis fans alike. Among the items up for bid are exclusive tickets for the finals of all four tennis majors in 2013, luxurious vacation packages to the Caribbean and Europe, tennis camps for juniors and adults, including a week of instruction at esteemed academies like the Chris Evert Tennis Academy and Ivan Lendl’s International Junior Tennis Academy, and exclusive tickets to events including the Grammy Awards and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Proceeds of The Legends Ball, which has been held annually since 1980, will benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and support the mission of preserving the history of the game, honoring the legends and inspiring the future.

For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, or to learn more about The Legends Ball, call 401-849-3990 or email [email protected].