McEnroe, Chenoweth Talk WTT and Billie Jean King in Times Square
John McEnroe of the New York Sportimes and award-winning actor Kristin Chenoweth (pictured to the left) played tennis together in Times Square, while promoting the upcoming US Open. They also discussed World TeamTennis, WTT co-founder Billie Jean King and more at the June 13 USTA event.
Located in the busy New York City area, the US Open Experience brought the two celebrities to a makeshift 36-foot court, along with “30 Rock” star Judah Friedlander, to play.
Although there to promote this year’s US Open, which begins in late August, McEnroe spoke about his involvement with WTT. While, according to McEnroe, “it’s not easy” playing with some of the young, up-and-coming talent for “every match,” he said, “the fact that you get to play in a different format -- singles, doubles, and mixed doubles -- is nice for me.”
Contributing to McEnroe’s enjoyment of WTT is the location of his matches as a member of the New York Sportimes for his tenth season and 11th overall. Playing at Sportime Stadium on Randall’s Island, the location proves especially convenient for the seven-time Grand Slam champion. “I have my tennis academy at Randall’s Island where we play, so that makes it even easier and more fun to be around there during the season,” he said.
For Chenoweth, tennis was a large part of growing up, especially with a mother who won tennis tournaments in their small, Oklahoma town. “We had some fights because I tried, but I wouldn’t follow through, I wouldn’t keep my eye on the ball,” she said.
Regardless of her inability to play, Chenoweth appreciates the sport. “The perspective that tennis brings you…is work hard, answer your own questions, figure it out and be the best athlete you can be. All those things obviously apply to life,” she said.
Chenoweth said she enjoyed the chance to play with McEnroe, who she would watch with her mother growing up. Although she doesn’t think his instruction helped much in the few minutes they hit, she reasoned, “I do have to say I was in heels.”
The actor also spoke about her relationship to Billie Jean King, WTT’s co-founder. “I sang at [cartoonist] Charles Schulz memorial service. [Schulz and King] were very big fans of each other, and I got to meet her then,” she said.
Appreciating the tennis legend’s personality, she said, “She’s funny, she’s wicked funny. I don’t know her well, but every time I’ve met her, we’ve just laughed because we couldn’t be more different, but we’re the same.”
About King’s work to promote gender equality, Chenoweth said, “I think she was also the first ever in that she was a very strong woman and she was well-spoken.
The actor continued, “I appreciate that there’s a person in the tennis world lending her name in support [of issues, such as promoting gender equality]. I’m obviously a huge fan of her as a person, never mind her tennis.”
Photo: Ben Snyder