Andy Roddick and John McEnroe Emerge as the Flag Bearers as Tennis’ Rival Sport Makes Major Inroads With Latest Collaboration

Published 09/27/2023, 6:56 AM EDT

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While the tennis community is caught up in its own G.O.A.T. debate, a silent storm is brewing against the sport. Tennis is one of the world’s most challenging and most watched sports. Lately, a serene threat is looming large, which aims to sideline the sport that has spawned some of the world’s greatest athletes. Though players like Frances Tiafoe and Thanasi Kokkinakis disregarded it as a sport, the popularity of the blossoming paddle sport cannot be ignored. Pickleball is growing increasingly in the US, and organizers plan to make it even more significant.

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Despite being the fastest-growing sport in America, Pickleball requires an interaction medium. After John McEnroe and Andy Roddick made it big via their participation in last year’s Pickleball Slam, this blooming sport signed a massive collaboration ahead of its early major events.

Pickleball aims to bridge the gap between audience and professionals

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The main competitor to tennis is gearing up for its second Slam event in February. Several tennis legends and players signed with the PPA to confirm their participation. Since Slam 2 will be packed with the most prominent tennis figures, PPA signed a deal with an elite tennis media to dedicate its hours to Pickleball.

In a press release, the Carvana Professional Pickleball Association and the Tennis Channel have announced their media collaboration. The Tennis Channel shall launch an exclusive app, website, and channel dedicated to Pickleball. The deal includes live streaming and producing a majority of PPA tour events. In association with the PPA tour, the media giant shall launch a 24-hour Pickleball channel.

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According to the agreement, the Tennis Channel and its free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel, T2, would telecast at least 100 live hours of the PPA tour annually. People who own a Tennis Channel Plus subscription shall have unlimited access to its website, app, network, and PPA tour coverage. However, the network still has the right to air live tennis as its priority.

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The Tennis Channel reserves the right to air the tour events, including the same-day delay and on-demand matches. The Pickleball association aims at marketing, more significant revenue generation, and popularity besides emerging as an essential sport worldwide. Pickleball has secured the services various tennis legends to its side, and Slam 2 will again witness the battle of the legends.

Tennis legends, including John McEnroe, set to return to their Pickleball stint

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When Jack Sock announced his retirement from tennis during the US Open, he dedicated himself to being a professional Pickleball player. Eugenie Bouchard, too, is focusing on the same, though she did not officially hang her tennis racket. Moreover, Hall of Famers Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and John McEnroe, among others, have also signed for the upcoming Slam 2.

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February 4, 2024, shall witness a significant clash between the 42 Grand Slam holders. Maria Sharapova and Johnny Mac will lock horns with Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in America’s fastest-growing sport. The Andy Roddick and Agassi duo clinched the Slam 1 last year and a $1 million prize money. The prize money remains the same, and Pickleball shall witness new champions next year.

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Sports icons Naomi Osaka, Chris Evert, Tom Brady, and LeBron James, including Nick Kyrgios, have invested in Pickleball. These professionals have their respective ownership in Major League Pickleball (MLP) teams. With such investments, will pickleball overtake tennis as one of the most-watched sports in the US? Only time will tell.

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Written by:

Krishna Priya

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Vadlamani Krishna Priya is a tennis writer at Essentially Sports. Pursuing her passion for storytelling, she has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Helped by her cousin who introduced her to the rules and regulations of the game during her childhood, Roger Federer matches became Priya's gateway to the world of tennis.
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Edited by:

Tony Thomas

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