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Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King are bringing their annual World TeamTennis Smash Hits charity night of tennis to Cleveland


Pre-match VIP Reception and Live Auction

Mingle with Sir Elton John & Billie Jean King as well as all of the players, sit court-side for the match, enjoy world-class tennis, and have the opportunity to bid on once in a lifetime items at the pre-match VIP Reception and Live Auction. Past auctions have included items such as Billie Jean King’s Wimbledon Centre Court seats, one of Sir Elton John’s signed piano benches, Super Bowl tickets and more!

Host Committee opportunities begin at $10,000 and feature an exclusive photo with Billie Jean and Elton among many other benefits. Individual VIP ticket opportunities and sponsorships begin at $1,000. All proceeds from the VIP Reception benefit the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, and all live auction proceeds benefit the AIDS Taskforce and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

For information on how to be a part of this amazing opportunity, please call John Farina at 216-357-2221 or e-mail him at jfarina@atfgc.org.

New York, N.Y. (August 16, 2011) — Longtime friends Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King are bringing their annual World TeamTennis Smash Hits charity night of tennis to Cleveland for the first time in the event’s 19-year history. Tennis greats Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe, Amelie Mauresmo, Coco Vandeweghe, and Jan-Michael Gambill will join other top players for WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO on Thursday, Oct. 27, at Public Hall in Cleveland. Tickets for the one-night event can be purchased HERE. The event is produced by World TeamTennis in association with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

Smash Hits has raised more than $10 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and various local AIDS charities since 1993. This year’s event will benefit EJAF and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland. The funds raised at the pre-match Smash Hits VIP Reception will be specifically targeted for local programs.

Captained by King and John, the players will form two teams and play a match using the World TeamTennis (WTT) coed team format. The music legend will also participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event. Additional participants will be announced in the upcoming weeks. King and John have split the series so far with nine wins each.

“It is always such a great pleasure to co-host this wonderful event with my dear friend Billie Jean King,” said Sir Elton John. “I’m so pleased that we will be teaming up with the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland to raise awareness about the continuing challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic both locally and nationally and to raise urgently needed dollars for community-based HIV prevention, education, treatment, and care services. I urge all of the tennis fans and concerned citizens in the Greater Cleveland area to support this event and bring their families for a wonderful evening of tennis for a great cause.”

“It is great for Elton and I to return to Cleveland and we are looking forward to a night of competitive and entertaining tennis,” said King. “WTT Smash Hits is much more than a tennis event. It’s a way for us to give back to the local community and make an impact by generating awareness and much needed financial support for HIV and AIDS. We hope the Greater Cleveland area will help us reach those goals and support Smash Hits. ”

“This year the AIDS Task Force created a commemoration video in which people shared their reflections on 30 years of AIDS. The Smash Hits event will help ensure that resources remain available to help fight this terrible disease. Congratulations to the Sports Commission for attracting such an important event to the city of Cleveland,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson, City of Cleveland.

“The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is thrilled to work with World TeamTennis in bringing this high-profile event to Cleveland. Beyond being an evening of great entertainment, it will benefit such a worthy cause and support our local community in a tremendous way all while showcasing Cleveland,” stated David Gilbert, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

Roddick, who is playing in his 7th Smash Hits event, is a former world No. 1 and continues to be one of the most successful players on the ATP Tour. Roddick has won 30 singles titles, including the 2003 US Open and has been ranked in the top 10 for nine consecutive years. In 2001, Roddick started the Andy Roddick Foundation (ARF), a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all children based on the principles of respect for family, education and morality.

Navratilova, a 59-time Grand Slam champion in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, will be making her 9th Smash Hits appearance. Navratilova spent 156 consecutive weeks as the world’s No. 1 singles player and shares the all-time Wimbledon record of 20 titles with WTT co-founder Billie Jean King. During her storied career, the Hall of Famer won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Navratilova holds 167 singles titles, more than any other player, male or female and 178 doubles titles. She is also one of the most successful WTT players in League history, leading her teams to five championships during her 20 seasons. Navratilova impressed off the court as she publicly dealt with a breast cancer diagnosis last year. Navratilova continued to play tennis and commentate for Tennis Channel during her months of radiation.

This is the first Smash Hits event for Mauresmo. In 2004, she became the first French woman tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in the world. Mauresmo won two Grand Slam singles titles during her career, the 2006 Wimbledon Championships and the 2006 Australian Open title. Mauresmo has won 25 singles titles and 3 doubles titles during her WTA career. She has also represented France in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.

For more information on WTT Smash Hits, visit www.WTT.com/SmashHits.

WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO – At A Glance:

WHAT: Charity tennis event co-hosted by longtime friends Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King

BENEFITS: Elton John AIDS Foundation and the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland

WHEN: Thursday, October 27 – 7pm Eastern

WHERE: Public Hall – Cleveland, Ohio (500 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114)

WHO: Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King will each captain teams that include Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova, Amelie Mauresmo and other top tennis stars.

TICKETS: Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, August 30 at 10 a.m. EDT. Visit www.WTT.com/SmashHits for more information.

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MEDIA CONTACTS: Rosie Crews, WTT 817.684.0366 (rcrews@wtt.com)

Ben Yarrow, EJAF 347.202.4372 (Yarrow@westwingwriters.com)

2011 WTT SMASH HITS presented by GEICO

About Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF)

The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) was established in the United States in 1992 (EJAF-US) and in the United Kingdom in 1993 (EJAF-UK) by Sir Elton John. Together, both entities have raised more than $225 million for worthy programs in 55 countries around the globe since inception. Today, EJAF is one of the world’s leading nonprofit HIV/AIDS organizations supporting innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. EJAF-US’s current grant-making priorities target HIV prevention programs throughout the Americas and the Caribbean region; HIV prevention and care services for highly marginalized and vulnerable populations; and HIV/AIDS prevention education and the promotion of sexual health for adolescents. For more information, please visit www.ejaf.org.

About World TeamTennis (WTT):

World TeamTennis (WTT), headquartered in New York City, showcases both the best in professional and recreational team tennis. Co-founded by Billie Jean King, the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO features the biggest names in the world playing the innovative coed team format. The WTT Recreational League presented by GEICO also operates coed team leagues and events. The United States Tennis Association is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis. For more information, visit www.WTT.com.

About AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland:

The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland is a non-profit, community based AIDS service and education organization. Established in 1983, the AIDS Taskforce is the oldest AIDS service provider in Northeast Ohio, and the primary provider in Cleveland of both community based HIV prevention education and non-medical social services to people living with HIV and AIDS. The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland provides a compassionate and collaborative response to the needs of people infected, affected and at risk of HIV/AIDS. This is accomplished through leadership in prevention, education, supportive services, research and advocacy. Our clients come from a variety of racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. They are male, female, young, old, gay, straight, bisexual, and transgender. The unifying factor is that our clients are living with or caring for someone who is living with HIV or AIDS. For more information, visit www.aidstaskforce.org.

About Greater Cleveland Sports Commission:

The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission prides itself on being one of the most distinguished Sports Commissions in the country, effectively leveraging sports events and activities to further economic development in Northeast Ohio. The philosophy of the Sports Commission sets it apart from others by operating as an economic and community development organization utilizing sports as a vehicle to forward other community agendas. The organization takes the unique approach of becoming a management and financial partner in each event with the goal of producing events that are more successful in Cleveland than other cities in which they have been held. Since 2000, the Sports Commission has been responsible for attracting over 100 sporting events, contributing to more than $300 million in economic activity. For more information, visit www.clevelandsports.org.