Longines, the Swiss watch company, and tennis legend, philanthropist and Longines ambassador Stefanie Graf, joined forces with fellow legendary player Billie Jean King and four current professionals on Thursday putting on a tennis clinic for more than 50 children provided by event presenters City Parks Foundation and the USTA Eastern Division. Benefitting Graf’s Children for Tomorrow charity, the Center Court for Kids event was a huge success and led mainly by Graf, who spent three hours on court tutoring and helping the children, offering tips and advice about their tennis games.
“It’s great that Longines has provided this incredible opportunity to these young girls so eager and ready to play tennis,” Graf said. “Just like Children for Tomorrow, the City Parks Foundation of New York City offers a wide variety range of activities for all these children to take part and learn from.”
Mike Silverman of the City Parks Foundation was the day’s emcee and coordinated the four courts used during the clinic. Silverman commented that the Central Park West Courts provided free tennis to more than 7,000 children last year alone.
“It’s places like this that represent the true grassroots tennis movement,” said King, who grew up on similar public courts in Long Beach, Calif. “And I’m just so happy to be here supporting Stefanie’s great Foundation and all the work she does for the Children of Tomorrow.”
The event is just another part of Longines’ global commitment to support and develop tennis’ superstars of tomorrow. The players, all from the metro New York area, received special instruction from Graf and other tennis pros on sportsmanship and the game’s most integral shots: forehand, backhand, serve and volley. Additionally, visitors to Central Park were able to test the speed of their serve.
U.S. Open competitors Tim Smyczek, Ryler DeHeart and current WTA players Mashona Washington and Jennifer Elie also provide instruction and great enthusiasm on the day. Elie grew up in Queens and played on the same Central Park courts as a child.
Graf, a Longines Brand Ambassador, is considered by many to be the greatest female tennis player. She is married to American tennis great Andre Agassi. Tennis and non-profit work continue to be driving forces in both Graf and Agassi’s lives.
On Wednesday night, Longines, Graf and Town&Country Magazine, hosted the "Women Who Make a Difference" awards dinner. Honorees included Valerie Sobel, Dr. Margaret Martin and Kristen Malfara. On behalf of each guest, Longines will be making a donation of $25 to one of the honored charities of their choice, which also includes Graf's Children for Tomorrow foundation.
For more information, visit www.longines.com.