A Night To Remember In The Big Apple

By Richard Kent
Updated: March 7, 2009

NEW YORK — This past Monday night marked Tennis Night In America and also served to commemorate the great tennis pioneer, Billie Jean King at Madison Square Garden in an exhibition which pitted Grand Slam winners from 2008.

In the opening match, Venus Williams got the only break and defeated Jelena Jankovic in a spirited one set semi-final.

In the second match of the evening, Serena Williams easily defeated French Open winner Ana Ivanovic. Williams was simply too powerful for Ivanovic whose best surface is the European clay.

After a touching ceremony which honored King, Serena and Venus played for $400,000 of prize money and gave the crowd of 12,026 exactly what it wanted in a thrilling two set match won by Serena.

The crowd was pretty evenly divided between Serena and Venus but clearly wanted to see and was delivered a Serena-Venus final. Their level of play was clearly a step ahead of the level of play of both Jankovic and Ivanovic and signaled to the rest of the tennis world that there will once again be forces to be contended with in Majors in 2009.

Both Venus and Serena seemed thrilled to be playing in Madison Square Garden which hosted the WTA season-ending championship every year until 2000 but hasn’t been the scene of women’s tennis since then.

In the match, Serena beat Venus 6-4, 6-3.

King, a New York resident now very much wants professional women’s tennis to return to The Garden on an annual basis and with her great influence this event should become an annual one in March of each year at The Garden.

John McEnroe, one of the commentators and also a New York native echoed King’s sentiments on HBO which televised the event live to a national television audience.