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BNP Paribas Returns as Title Sponsor for the 'Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup'

New York, NY — BNP Paribas, a European leader in global banking and financial services, returns as title sponsor for the “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” at Madison Square Garden, it was announced today. Four of the world’s top women tennis players will once again face off in the one-night only single elimination event scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2010 at The World’s Most Famous Arena.

For 36 years BNP Paribas has consistently been involved with tennis partnerships. Since 1973, when BNP signed its first partnership accord with the French Tennis Federation (FFT), the group has been actively involved and committed to strengthening the sport both worldwide and locally.

“BNP Paribas is excited to be the title sponsor of the BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup,” said Everett Schenk, CEO of BNP Paribas North America. “As supporters of tennis at every level, worldwide, we’re pleased to be associated with such an exciting and unparalleled event matching up the world’s top women’s players. We’re also thrilled that it’s taking place in New York, BNP Paribas’ North American headquarters.”

“BNP Paribas is the number one sponsor in all of tennis,” said Jerry Solomon, president, Star Games Inc. “It is great to have them back as our title sponsor.”

“Madison Square Garden is excited to have BNP Paribas return as the title sponsor for this one-of-a-kind women’s tennis event,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports. “New York’s tennis fans will again have the opportunity to watch the top women’s tennis players compete on the world’s biggest stage, Madison Square Garden. The MSG Sports Properties division remains committed to bringing the biggest events and best athletes to New York.”

The field for the 2010 event will be compiled by inviting the champions of the 2009 Grand Slam tournaments. By winning the 2009 Australian Open Serena Williams has already qualified to participate in the event along with recent French Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. The third invitation will be presented to the winner of the current Wimbledon Championship.

Williams captured the inaugural BNP Paribas Showdown held on March 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over sister Venus Williams. The field also included 2008 French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic, as well as year ending No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

As the No. 2 seed Williams captured her 10th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open when she defeated Dinara Safina. Williams is now tied for first in Open Era for the Australian Open singles titles (with Court, Goolagong, Graf, Seles) and fifth in Open Era for Grand Slam singles titles (after Court, Navratilova, Evert, Graf). She returned to No.1 on February 2 and also won her eighth Grand Slam doubles title at the Australian Open with Venus.

Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open Champion, won her second Grand Slam singles title (and 11th overall Tour singles title) at Roland Garros. She defeated Serena in the quarterfinals and top seed Safina in the final. She currently is 2-2 lifetime in Grand Slam singles finals and her victory over Safina was her sixth win over a reigning world No.1.

In the Showdown’s unique no ad-scoring format, each participant will compete in a one set semi-final with the winners advancing to a best of three set final for the Billie Jean King Cup.

The 2009 BNP Paribas Showdown brought women’s tennis back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2000 when Martina Hingis defeated Monica Seles in the WTA Championships. The Garden hosted the WTA season-ending tournament every year but one between 1977 and 2000.

The BNP Paribas Showdown, in partnership with the United States Tennis Association, will continue their efforts to grow youth participation in the sport of tennis through “Tennis Night in America”, a national program which is among the largest ever grass roots initiative the sport has ever seen.

The USTA has made this event a major component for its National Youth Registration Night. Last year more than 750 facilities across the country hosted Youth Registration Night events on the evening of the BNP Paribas Showdown. Clubs, schools and recreation facilities in all 50 states and the 17 USTA Sections invited children from ages 6 to 18 to join spring and summer leagues.

About BNP Paribas

BNP Paribas (www.bnpparibas.com http://www.bnpparibas.com/ ) is the Eurozone’s leading bank in terms of deposits, and one of the 10 most important banks in the world in terms of net banking income, equity capital and market value. Furthermore, it is one of the 6 strongest banks in the world according to Standard & Poor’s. With a presence in 85 countries and more than 205,000 employees, 165,200 of which in Europe and 15,000 in the United States, BNP Paribas is a global-scale European leader in financial services. It holds key positions in its three activities: Retail banking, Investment Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking. BNP Paribas also has a significant presence in the United States and strong positions in Asia and the emerging markets. This year, BNP Paribas celebrates its 36th anniversary of its partnership with tennis. Since 1973, BNP Paribas has been actively involved with the sport and has consistently strengthened its commitment since then to support it both locally and worldwide. BNP Paribas has historically been a privileged partner in all aspects of tennis: as an Official Sponsor of the French Open for 36 years, and a sponsor of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas since 2001, of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas since 2005, and of the BNP Paribas Masters since 1986, as well as other major international tournaments including the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, WTA Bank of the West Classic in California, Master Series Monte Carlo, BNP Paribas Women’s Open in Strasbourg and Grand Prix de Lyon.

About MSG Sports Properties

MSG Sports Properties, which includes world championship boxing, college and high school basketball, track & field, and all other sports events is part of Madison Square Garden, L.P. which is owned by Cablevision Systems Corporation and includes the New York Knicks (NBA); the New York Rangers (NHL); the New York Liberty (WNBA); the Hartford Wolf Pack (American Hockey League); MSG Entertainment, which includes concerts and events at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the Beacon Theatre, the legendary Chicago Theatre, as well as an exclusive co-booking agreement with the venerable Wang Theatre in Boston; and which manages wholly-owned live entertainment properties including the Radio City Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular; MSG Media, which is comprised of television networks MSG and MSG Plus, and MSG Interactive which oversees all company wireless and online initiatives; Fuse, the only national music television network; and the Madison Square Garden arena complex, located in the heart of the New York metropolitan area.

StarGames, LLC (www.stargamesinc.com http://www.stargamesinc.com/ ), which, in partnership with tennis great Ivan Lendl, promoted the Sampras/Federer match in March of 2008 at the Garden, is a full service sports marketing and production company based outside of Boston, MA. Now in its 14th year, StarGames produces programming for television, broadband and DVD home distribution, and, in association with Champagne Tennis Etcetera, procures sponsors for major sports and entertainment events. In addition, StarGames creates and produces live sporting/entertainment events, represents professional athletes and operates its own broadband channels through affiliations with YouTube and TVUNetworks.

CONTACTS: Dan Schoenberg, MSG (212) 465-6367 - daniel.schoenberg@thegarden.com

Larry Torres, MSG (212) 631-5178 - larry.torres@thegarden.com

Jessica Smyser, StarGames (781) 224-9655

Michele Sicard, BNP Paribas (212) 841-3070

Edwina Frawley-Gangahar, BNP Paribas (212) 841-3719

Kerrie McHugh, BNP Paribas (212) 841-3809

 

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