Clijsters, Chang to make World Team Tennis debuts
NEW YORK: Andre Agassi, Kim Clijsters and Michael Chang will all play in the World Team Tennis league in the United States this year.
While Agassi had previously played in WTT from 2002-04, Chang and Clijsters will make their debuts this month. Agassi will play for the Philadelphia Freedoms, Chang for the Sacramento Capitals, and Clijsters -who plans to return to the WTA tour after a two-year retirement -will play two matches with the St. Louis Aces.
They'll join stars Serena Williams (Washington Kastles), Venus Williams (Philadelphia), Maria Sharapova (Newport Beach Breakers), Martina Navratilova (Boston Lobsters), Anna Kournikova (St. Louis Aces) and John McEnroe (New York Sportimes).
Billie Jean King, the co-founder of World Team Tennis, and commissioner Ilana Kloss traveled to Agassi's home in Las Vegas earlier this year and asked the eight-time major champion to play in their league.
"How do you say no to Billie?" Agassi said. "She's changed the face of sports. She's given anybody that has a daughter a chance at a life in sports. I have so much appreciation for what her visions are." The 10-team league began its season on Thursday. Agassi will play at home July 10 against Boston and at Newport Beach, California, on July 17.
"I wanted to sort of re-engage in certain respects," said Agassi, who recently played an exhibition with wife Steffi Graf at Wimbledon. "Show an appreciation for the life and platform that tennis has given me." "We always get good players," King said. "They don't have to play. Players that like teams and like to give back to communities, they like our league." The New York Sportimes is raising its profile, moving from upstate New York to Manhattan. It's the first WTT franchise in New York City since the Apples in 1978 and features native McEnroe.
The new 2,000-seat tennis complex on Randalls Island will have 20 courts, including a trademark multicolored WTT court when it hosts St. Louis in the home opener on July 7.