Longines, the official timekeeper and partner of the French Open, has announced the brand’s 2010 U.S. and global tennis program aimed at supporting and developing tennis’ superstars of tomorrow. The brand will host U.S. and International tournaments, offering junior athletes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at Roland Garros during the French Open with past champions Mary Pierce and Gustavo Kuerten. In addition, Longines will finance their sports equipment until their 16th birthday.
Longines, in conjunction with the USTA’s Eastern Region and Tennis Magazine, will host a U.S. sanctioned tournament with eight talented USTA Eastern division female players between the ages of 10-12 years old at the storied Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, in New York on Saturday, April 17. Athletes competing in the U.S. tournament will be selected not only on performance but on their commitment to give back to the community. Each registered athlete must submit a 300-word essay on philanthropy that will be voted on by a panel of judges which includes tennis legend and brand ambassador Stefanie Graf. The winner of the U.S. event will receive an all-expense paid trip to Paris to compete against champions from other countries. The U.S. tournament will be a prelude to the worldwide championship event that will be held at venerable Roland Garros in Paris, France, on June 3-4, providing these juniors an opportunity to play in the iconic venue during the Grand Slam event.
The International Swiss Watch Company will have talented junior female tennis players representing Poland, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, Singapore and Taiwan and qualified junior male tennis players from Australia, China, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Japan and Mexico. These junior tennis stars will represent their country at Roland Garros where they will be paired by a lucky draw and play mixed-doubles matches at the worldwide championship event.
Providing coaching and encouragement to all of the participants in the Roland Garros championship event will be Longines ambassadors of elegance, Agnieszka Radwanska and Tsung-Hua Yang, two of the top emerging stars on the ATP and WTA tours, and legendary tennis player Mansour Bahrami.
The winners, male and female, of the worldwide event at Roland Garros will then have the exclusive right to play against tennis legends and former French Open Champions Pierce and Kuerten on June 5, just prior to the French Open women’s finals and receive a fund financing their sports equipment until their 16th birthdays.
“Throughout the years Longines has demonstrated time and again its commitment to the development of children through various campaigns and initiatives,” said Jennifer Judkins, Longines, U.S. brand manager. “This year we have created an incredible opportunity for these young juniors to play against the world’s best in the most heralded tennis venues, Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and Roland Garros, and against past French Open Champions, Gustavo [Kuerten] and Mary [Pierce]. We look forward to seeing our superstars of tomorrow compete on such a grandiose stage and are honored to support two wonderful charities.”
At the close of play following the world finals, Longines will present $100,000 to support the Agassi Foundation for Education and Children for Tomorrow, charities of brand ambassadors Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.
Affectionately known as “Guga,” Kuerten burst onto the tennis scene in 1997 when he won his first Grand Slam in only his third attempt–the fastest of any player in the Open era–taking the French Open with wins over three former champions: Thomas Muster (third round), Yevgeny Kafelnikov (quarterfinals) and Sergi Bruguera (final). The victory made his the third-lowest ranked Grand Slam champion (ranked 66th). A winner in Paris also in 2000 and 2001, the French Open was the site of Kuerten’s last singles match on May 25, 2008. The raucous Roland Garros crowd sent Kuerten into retirement with a standing ovation, thanking him for the years of memories.
Pierce is also beloved in France, the country she represented during her playing career. She won the 2000 French Open women’s singles title and was a runner-up in 1994 and 2005.