There's a solid chance you thought World TeamTennis didn't make it too far out of the 1970s, like disco, bellbottoms and Jimmy Carter's presidency. So you might not know that the WTT is still alive and (quite) well, being played this month in 12 cities nationwide.
Tonight, just three days after playing in the Wimbledon final, Venus Williams will play at a new tennis stadium in downtown Washington D.C., as her Philadelphia Freedoms take on the Washington Kastles. I'll be in attendance and, if it's anything like the match I went to last season, it should be the most fun I'll have at a sporting event all year. (Especially if the Redskins stink.)
World TeamTennis has been around since Billie Jean King founded the league in 1974. Since then, the WTT has expanded and contracted, but always featured some of the best players in the tennis world, including Chris Evert, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors. John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova still play in the league, alongside the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova, among others. These "marquee players" have a limited schedule, which means, for instance, that the Kastles' Serena Williams won't be playing tonight in D.C., but will appear for the team during a home match next week. (The WTT schedule runs through July.)
The scoring is vastly different than regular tennis with no-ad games, five-game sets and super-tiebreakers. Old tennis rules and traditions fall by the wayside at WTT events, as on-court coaching is allowed and cheering from fans is encouraged.
Many sporting events claim to be fan-friendly, but that's usually just code for an NBA team having a mini-hoop in the corner of the arena after charging people $85 to get in the door. The WTT can say that its fan-friendly with a straight face.
- Jimmy Carter
- Billie Jean King