The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas raises $330,000 for ITHF

The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas raises $330,000 for ITHF

 NEWPORT, R.I., September 12, 2013-- In the midst of an exciting US Open fortnight, on Friday, September 6, more than 450 tennis enthusiasts and industry leaders gathered at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City for The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas, a social event hosted by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum that celebrates tennis and honors some of the sport's greatest champions and contributors.  >> Video Highlights  >> More Photos

The event honored the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 - former world No. 1 Martina Hingis, Australian tennis great Thelma Coyne Long, and dedicated tennis industry leaders Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac, who were all enshrined in July. In addition, The Legends Ball featured the presentation of the Eugene L. Scott Award to Rod Laver and the Joseph F. Cullman Award to ESPN, both honored for their remarkable commitments to tennis.

A highlight of the night was an awe-inspiring gathering of nineteen Hall of Fame tennis legends on stage. Hall of Famers in attendance were Stan Smith, Jan Kodes, Dick Savitt, Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, Pam Shriver, Owen Davidson, Donald Dell, Butch Buchholz, Russ Adams, Vic Seixas, Monica Seles, Bud Collins, Michael Chang, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Rod Laver, Chris Evert, and Peachy Kellmeyer.

Hosted annually since 1980, The Legends Ball serves as an important fundraiser for the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and inspiring its future.

In its first year under the presenting sponsorship of BNP Paribas, the 2013 edition of The Legends Ball was a great success, raising more than $330,000 in net proceeds to support the Hall of Fame's mission. In addition to taking part in the event, guests showed their support for the Hall of Fame through a silent auction that featured exclusive experiences at all four Grand Slams, golf and tennis outings with Hall of Famers, autographed memorabilia, and much more. In addition, guests contributed to a fund to underwrite free admission for all children ages 16 and under to visit the museum at the Hall of Fame. 

"We were particularly honored to be the presenting sponsor of this fantastic Legends Ball recognizing the 2013 class of Hall of Famers, and we are delighted that the event was such a success for a cause we so greatly support," commented Jean-Yves Fillion, CEO of BNP Paribas North America.  


The Legends Ball presented by BNP Paribas was co-chaired by John Arnhold, chairman and CIO of First Eagle Investment Management, and his wife Jody; Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and CEO of Brooks Brothers Group, Inc., and his wife Debra; Jim Goldman, president and CEO  of Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., and his wife Gigi; and Eric Zinterhofer, founder of Searchlight Capital Partners, LLC and chairman of the board of Charter Communications, Inc., and his wife, Aerin. Lara Spencer, co-anchor of Good Morning America, and a dedicated tennis enthusiast, served as emcee for the event.  

In addition to honoring the Hall of Famers, each year The Legends Ball serves as an opportunity to pay tribute to one company and one individual who have shown a remarkable commitment to the sport.

The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award honors an exceptional company that shares Joe Cullman's enthusiasm for tennis and has also made a significant contribution to society at large. Cullman served as President and Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum from 1982-88, a tenure during which the organization was elevated to worldwide recognition. The 2013 Cullman Award was presented to ESPN, which has displayed a strong commitment to tennis since first coming on the airways. The very first score ever reported on SportsCenter when the network debuted on September 7, 1979 was Chris Evert's victory over Billie Jean King at the US Open. With each passing tennis season, ESPN has displayed its steadfast commitment to the sport, developing an astute on-air team, constantly adding more hours of coverage, creating innovative digital platforms, and celebrating tennis' rich history through fascinating special programming.

Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer, who served as ESPN president when the company first acquired broadcast rights to Wimbledon and the US Open, accepted the honor, saying, "We take very seriously the trust of tennis fans who want and deserve coverage that is creative, thorough, and compelling. You have our commitment to continue to deliver on our 34-year track record doing just that."

Hall of Famer Rod Laver was the honored recipient of the other special award of the evening, the Eugene L. Scott Award, which is presented annually in memory of the late founder of Tennis Week magazine, and awarded to an individual who embodies Scott's commitment to communicating about the game and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world.  

The winner of 11 Grand Slam singles titles, Laver is the only player in tennis history to have twice won the calendar year Grand Slam, which he did in 1962 and 1969. In addition to his on-court success though, Laver has always been held in the highest regard by his peers and fans for his sportsmanlike behavior and for serving as an incredible ambassador for the sport. ESPN analyst Darren Cahill introduced his fellow Australian to receive the award.

Of receiving the honor, Laver commented, "I am honored to be recognized with an award that pays tribute to such a trusted tennis industry voice and important tennis industry leader as Gene Scott. It's a huge honor to be here, and I thank the Hall of Fame."  


Also receiving special honors at the event was Hall of Famer Jan Kodes, who was recognized by the International Lawn Tennis Club of the United States, which is dedicated to the promotion of international goodwill and friendship through tennis. Each year, the organization presents the William M. Johnston Award and the Sarah Palfrey Danzig Award to one man and one woman who have demonstrated exceptional character, sportsmanship, manners, and the spirit of cooperation while contributing to the growth of the game by bringing it to players of every age. Dan Waldman, president of the International Lawn Tennis Club of the United States, presented the Johnston Award to Kodes. WTA player Lisa Raymond was the recipient of the Palfrey Award, and Hall of Famer Pam Shriver accepted the honors on her behalf.

In addition to presenting sponsor BNP Paribas, this year's Legends Ball was sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier, Fila, Rolex Watch, U.S.A, Alex and Ani, EMC Corporation, and American Express.  

The cocktail party during Legends Ball had a timely feel of New York Fashion Week with a special presentation from Fila. The brand has a rich history of creating iconic fashions worn by champions and Hall of Famers since the early 1970s. Exclusively at The Legends Ball, Fila gave attendees a sneak peek of the Spring 2014 Heritage collection designed by Ginny Hilfiger. The collection was inspired by Fila's vast archives, but with Hilfiger's fresh design aesthetic. Models showcased the line during the cocktail hour and Fila brand ambassadors served as stage hosts for the remainder of the evening. The Heritage collection will be available at tennis specialty retailers across the country and on Fila's website in late March. 

In addition to the silent auction, sponsors Rolex Watch, U.S.A. and Alex and Ani offered unique ways for guests to support the Hall of Fame. Rolex generously donated an Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Watch to be raffled off. Guests were also able to purchase Alex and Ani's newly released Game, Set, Match bangle, from which 20% of proceeds of all sales go to the Hall of Fame.

Guests were treated to a special taste of the newly launched GODIVA Truffle Flights and a GODIVA cocktail bar. Each of the new GODIVA Truffle Flights, which hit stores on August 29, features six hand-selected truffles that are meant to be enjoyed in a particular order for the ideal tasting experience. Much like you would taste a wine flight, tasting a GODIVA Truffle Flight is a progressive exploration of flavors, textures, and aromas. There are six new Truffle Flights to choose from, including the Nut Lovers Truffle Flight, Dark Decadence Truffle Flight, Heavenly Mousse Truffle Flight, and the Cake Truffle Flight.

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis. The 2014 Legends Ball will be held in New York City on Friday, September 5.