The BNP Paribas Showdown brings tennis back to Madison Square Garden for the sixth time on Monday evening, March 4, featuring Grand Slam champions Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal. Once again, the event will headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of Tennis Night in America, but in 2013, the BNP Paribas Showdown will also be part of a global tennis participation effort on the inaugural World Tennis Day.
World Tennis Day will be held with the support of the International Tennis Federation to promote Tennis10s, which tailors the game to its youngest players with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring. The cornerstones of World Tennis Day are grassroots opportunities for young players to participate in the sport at the local level. The day is highlighted by BNP Paribas Showdown events in Hong Kong as well as the annual event at Madison Square Garden in New York. The World Tennis Day effort complements the ongoing Tennis Night in America initiative to promote 10-and-under tennis by the USTA that has been held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas Showdown for five years.
“World Tennis Day is an opportunity for us to take the template of what has worked so well here with the USTA and Tennis Night in America to a global stage,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames Inc. “Last year, more than 2,000 clubs participated in Tennis Night in America activities around the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden. Youth participation in tennis is something we strongly believe in, so it seemed natural to try to build upon the success we’ve had in the US by partnering with the ITF in a global effort with World Tennis Day.”
Once again the BNP Paribas Showdown exclusively features players who have either won Grand Slams or ranked number one in the world, if not both. Entering the 2013 season, the 17 all-time participants of the event at Madison Square Garden boast a combined 100 Grand Slam singles titles, 694 titles overall and a total of 1,561 weeks ranked at number one.
Azarenka and Williams won three of the four Grand Slams last year (2012 Showdown participant Maria Sharapova won the other). The current world number one, Azarenka won the 2012 Australian Open to assume the top spot in the rankings. Williams was victorious at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, while also bringing home gold medals in singles and doubles at the 2012 London Olympics. The two played each other in the final of the U.S. Open in 2012, and will renew their rivalry on Friday (overnight Thursday in the U.S.) in the semifinals of the WTA event in Brisbane, Australia.
Nadal will be making his first appearance in the U.S. after a long injury layoff when he takes on del Potro in the BNP Paribas Showdown. In 2012, Nadal won a record seventh French Open title, but a knee injury prevented him from playing after Wimbledon. The start of the Spaniard’s 2013 season has been delayed by a stomach virus. The 11-time Grand Slam champion joins Andre Agassi as the only players to have completed a career Golden Slam. In 2009, Argentina’s del Potro broke through to win the US Open title. After wrist surgery in 2010, he returned to his top form in 2012, winning four titles and reaching the quarterfinals in three of the four Grand Slams.