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Tennis Legend Jimmy Connors to Join Tennis Channel as Lead Analyst During Network's Inaugural US Open Coverage

*LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28, 2009 - *Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle, has signed tennis Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors to lead analyst’s duties during the network’s upcoming US Open telecast in September, its inaugural coverage of America’s largest tennis tournament. Connors, who most recently worked as a part of the British Broadcasting Company’s (BBC) Wimbledon on-air team and coached top American player Andy Roddick, has not appeared in a televised tennis booth for a U.S. network since 1991. A five-time US Open singles champion whose energetic and competitive personality mirrored the intensity that typifies the New York event for two decades, Connors remains a heroic, iconic figure for a generation of American tennis fans.

Connors will team with other lead analyst Martina Navratilova, primary commentator for all Tennis Channel Grand Slam telecasts, as well as veteran sportscaster and 19-year US Open anchor Bill Macatee. In bringing Connors into the mix for the US Open, Tennis Channel will have the all-time men’s and women’s singles title holders in the same broadcast booth, breaking down the on-court action and offering their respective insights to this year’s US Open hopefuls. The Navratilova-Macatee team has appeared during all network telecasts at the other three tennis majors: the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

“I’m very happy to join Tennis Channel’s on-air team during its first US Open coverage, and to work with Bill Macatee, Martina Navratilova and the rest of the team,” said Connors. “The US Open has a special place in my heart and in the hearts of American tennis fans, and no other tournament in the world can match its drama and the electricity. In a short amount of time Tennis Channel has shaken up the way the sport is televised, and I’m excited to be a part of the effort to take US Open coverage to the next level.”

Tennis Channel’s US Open coverage begins Monday, Sept. 1, at 11 a.m. and continues throughout the two-week tournament. In addition to more than 60 hours of live matches, including those in exclusive prime time over Labor Day weekend, the network will feature the official US Open highlights show for an hour each evening at 11 p.m. ET, before alternating throughout the late and early morning hours between US Open highlight and interview shows and “best match” replays, under an umbrella tentatively named US Open Tonight. Like the Tennis Channel’s Wimbledon Primetime, French Open Tonight and Australian Open Today, the programming will focus on the best of the day’s action on the courts, in the press room and around the tournament grounds. In all, Tennis Channel’s round-the-clock US Open schedule accounts for more than 200 hours during the event.

With the US Open in 2009, Tennis Channel will plant its studio flag at each of tennis’ four Grand Slams. The network has been covering the French Open since 2007, and added both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2008.

Beyond the booth, Connors will also have a presence on the network’s Web site, www.tennischannel.com, and assist with promotional efforts for the inaugural US Open coverage.

One of the most magnetic and popular players to ever pick up a tennis racquet, Connors left an indelible mark on the sport during his 21-year career. His aggressive, ultra-competitive style of play made him a fan favorite and regular fixture of television sets and tournament finals. No male tennis player has won more singles championships than Connors’ 109, played in more tournaments (401) or won more matches (1,337-285, an .824 win percentage). He won eight Grand Slam singles championships: one Australian Open, two Wimbledon and five US Open crowns. Of his US Open titles, one was on grass and one was on clay at the tournament’s Forest Hills’ home prior to its current site in Flushing Meadow, where the courts are hard and Connors won another three times. Consequently, Connors is the only player in the 127-year history of the US Open to win the tournament title on three different surfaces. He was the world’s top-ranked singles player for five consecutive years from 1974-1978, and was in the top 10 a record 16 times. Still competing at an age when most players have already put down their racquets for good, Connors continued to ignite fans at 39, when he rewrote the records and made a run to the US Open semifinals.

Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and passionate lifestyle of tennis. A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community. It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights to the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, Olympus US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by eight of the top 10 MSOs and has a national footprint via DIRECTV and DISH Network.

 

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