The tennis world turned up the glam a bit in a lively celebration in support of the International Tennis Hall of Fame during US Open Finals weekend at The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas. The annual social event celebrates tennis and honors some of the sport's greatest champions and contributors - both the Hall of Famers and other individuals and companies that have advanced the sport. The evening drew out well over 400 people in support of the International Tennis Hall of Fame with proceeds going directly to the organization's ability to deliver on the mission of preserving and promoting the history of the sport and celebrating its champions.
Numerous Hall of Famers came out to be part of the celebration, including ITHF President Stan Smith, 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert, French Open legend Michael Chang, Spanish great Manolo Santana, along with many others. A highlight of the evening was a continued celebration of the ITHF Class of 2017, with a look back a highlights of the Induction Ceremony and a q & a with new Hall of Famers Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, and Steve Flink, led by emcee Dick Enberg.
Enberg dazzled the crowd with some of his great memories from his many years calling matches at Wimbledon, the US Open, and beyond. He stated, "It’s been a privileged career for me to be involved in the history of tennis and its intersection with live television…all the while getting to rub the shoulders for five decades with tennis hall of fame greatness.”
The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas was co-chaired by Bill Ackman, John & Jody Arnhold, Jon & Carol Epstein, Russ & Judy Fradin, Carl Kawaja & Wendy Holcombe, Tory & Elena Kiam, Gary & Barbara Tolman, and Ken Solomon.
BNP Paribas is a business that has shown a great commitment to tennis through partnerships around the globe, served as the presenting sponsor.
Jean-Yves Fillion, CEO of BNP Paribas USA, highlighted the bank's commitment to the sport, stating, "Last week we started a partnership with Washington Tennis & Education Foundation. It is through this investment in our communities, together with the Hall of Fame, that we will create the stars of tomorrow.”
In addition to the Hall of Famers, each year at the Legends Ball, the International Tennis Hall of Fame also pays tribute to an individual and an organization who have shown a remarkable commitment to the betterment of the sport by the presentation of two special awards.
Esteemed sports analyst Mary Carillo was this year's recipient of the Eugene L. Scott Award, which is given annually to honor an individual who embodies Scott's commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world. Carillo is an analyst for Tennis Channel, seen calling matches at each Grand Slam. Additionally, her work extends far beyond tennis, as she regularly appears on CBS and NBC, and is a regular on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” The 2016 Rio Summer Games marked Carillo’s 13th Olympic assignment, and her tenth for NBC. Carillo’s candid and insightful commentary has earned her accolades throughout the industry, including the distinction of being named “Best Sports Analyst of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated. Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon presented the award to his longtime colleague and friend.
The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award is presented annually to a company that shares Joe 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 2017 Cullman Award was presented to Babolat, in recognition of their 140-plus years of commitment to the sport of tennis, as shown through the company's dedication to working to innovation in equipment and tools for success. Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, who has used Babolat strings since she was a junior presented the award to CEO Eric Babolat.
The Legends Ball was proudly presented by BNP Paribas. In addition, major sponsors included Dell Technologies, Fila, Fidelity, Rolex Watch USA, EMC, Alex and Ani, Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, and Godiva. Godiva treated all guests with chocolate truffles as they posed for a photo on the red carpet, as well as a four-piece assorted chocolates box at their seat.
It was a visit down memory lane for the many Kim Clijsters' fans who attended, as mannequins around the room showcased some of her memorable on court looks by FILA from prominent moments of her career, including the green outfit she wore at the 2011 Australian Open and the Stars & Stripes kit she wore during her final run at the 2012 US Open.
After dinner, Hall of Famer Pam Shriver hosted an entertaining and successful live auction that brought in over $300,000 to benefit the International Tennis Hall of Fame and special partners, the Andy Roddick Foundation and the Rafa Nadal Foundation. A lively musical performance by rock violinist Boyd Tinsley and his band Crystal Garden wrapped the evening.