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Oudin, Roddick Shine As $400,000 Raised For AIDS Research

August 5, 2008 08:00 AM
Top photo: Marietta, Ga.'s Melanie Oudin gets a kick out of a quip from Andy Roddick. Left: The backhand of Martina Navratilova. Right: The forehand of Sir Elton John. Middle: The volley of Anna Kournikova. Also pictured: Jesse Levine.

Sir Elton John knows how to get Andy Roddick fired up on the tennis court. Before Sunday’s Advanta WTT Smash Hits event at Kennesaw State University, co- host John joked that Roddick hasn’t been on a winning Smash Hits team in years.

Roddick responded to the challenge from his team coach, winning three sets to lead Team Elton John to a 23-16 victory over Team Billie Jean at the 16th annual Advanta WTT Smash Hits at Kennesaw State University. With the win, John evened the series with Billie Jean King at eight wins apiece.

The annual charity event, hosted by King and John, raised more than $400,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund. John kicked off the tennis action teaming with Roddick to win a battle of the sexes match against Anna Kournikova and Martina Navratilova. The music superstar and avid tennis fan hit several winners, showcasing a formidable forehand.

Team Billie Jean rallied in the second set of mixed doubles when Navratilova and Levine outlasted Roddick and top American junior Melanie Oudin, 5-3. At 17, Oudin is 34 years younger than the timeless Navratilova. But the Marietta, Ga., teen shook off the nerves and was impressive in singles. Navratilova hit several drop shot winners which prompted Oudin to laugh and yell across the net “haven’t got one yet have I?” On the next point, Oudin hit a drop shot out of Martina’s reach to the delight of her hometown crowd. She closed out the game with an ace to take a 4-2 lead. Navratilova put on a shot-making clinic in the next two games to take the final set to a nine-point tiebreaker before Oudin closed out the set 5-4 to grab the match victory for Team Elton with a forehand winner.

For Oudin the afternoon was memorable experience, playing a legend in front of family and friends. “It was a great experience getting to play her, win or lose” said Oudin. At a pre-match reception, more than $171,000 of the event’s total was raised as King, John and the players participated in a live auction. The top auction items were two Wimbledon packages with Billie Jean King’s personal Center Court seats which sold for $21,000 each. Other top draws were John’s autographed piano bench and a Super Bowl package. Roddick wrapped up the auction with a winning $17,000 bid for artwork created by Martina Navratilova. The VIP reception was co-chaired by civic leaders Dr. Bobbie Bailey, Charlie Hendon, and Sacha Taylor.

John’s part-time hometown turned out to support his annual charity event and help raise funds for HIV/AIDS programs in the South. During a pre-match press conference, John talked about how much the Atlanta community has supported him since moving here 17 years ago and he emphasized the importance of community support for AIDS programs especially during tough economic times. Advanta WTT Smash Hits has raised close to $9 million since 1993. For more information, visit www.ejaf.org or www.WTT.com.

 

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