By Barry Janoff
October 29, 2015: Brands, fans and media may be focused on MLB, NBA and NHL, but the little green ball of tennis is also making news, led by Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils.
The four tennis stars will be on the same stage this March as part of the ninth annual BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition, to take place in New York's Madison Square Garden.
As in years past, the BNP Paribas Showdown will again headline a slate of global activities as part of World Tennis Day, which focus on "tailoring the game to players 10-and-under with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring."
Williams, who will make her third appearance in the annual BNP Paribas Showdown, is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and has compiled 21 Grand Slam titles.
Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 11, will be making her second appearance.
Wawrinka and Monfils will make their Madison Square Garden debuts on March 8.
BNP Paribas will be title sponsor for the eighth consecutive year.
Although marketing partners for 2016 have yet to be unveiled, the 2015 event included returning marketing partners Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Getty Images, JW Marriott Essex House, Kia Motors, Nespresso, Optimum, Rolex, SAP, Tennis.com and the U.S.Tennis Assn.
New to the March 2015 exhibition were Celebrity Cruises, Coloredge, CrowdRX, Flex 24, Head Penn Racquet Sports, Infor, One Strings, Oscar de la Renta and Shire Pharmaceuticals.
ESPN has been broadcast partner for the BNP Paribas Showdown, along with MSG Sports. The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames.
MSG partners include Chase, Anheuser-Busch/InBev, Coca-Cola, Delta, Kia, Lexus and SAP.
"Serena has really become the 'people's champion' and we have priced tickets to encourage her fans to be in attendance at Madison Square Garden as we honor her on World Tennis Day," StarGames president Jerry Solomon said in a statement. "I am excited that once again the BNP Paribas Showdown will offer fans great tennis and entertaining match-ups. Moreover, I think it promises to be another night full of memorable moments that you won't want to miss."
According to Joel Fisher, evp-MSG Sports, “Year in and year out, the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden continues to attract the top tennis stars in the world and this year is no different. We are thrilled to host these top athletes in what has become one of the most exciting and fun nights on the tennis calendar.”
Previous BNP Paribas Showdowns featured Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Ivan Lendl, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Mike and Bob Bryan, John and Patrick McEnroe, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Monica Seles, Gabriela Sabatini and Jelena Jankovic,
"There are certain things in your tennis career that you want to do: win Grand Slams, win the Davis Cup for your country. Playing in Madison Square Garden is one of the things on that list," Wawrinka said in a statement. "So I am excited about the invitation to play in the BNP Paribas Showdown and look forward to walking onto The Garden court.”
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