40 years ago, Billie Jean King captured a historic win against Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. Four decades later on Friday, April 19th at Merion Cricket Club, newly announced Freedoms community ambassador Lisa Raymond defended the crown for the ladies.
It was an exciting match that saw Lisa Raymond and Tatiana Panova prevail over Freedoms head coach Josh Cohen and Merion head pro Pascal Collard 8 games to 4 in a 12 game pro set.
Fans in attendance witnessed spirited competition between the men's team and the women's team, and also had the chance to get up close and personal with the stars. It was a back-and-forth match early on, with games split 2-2 after 4 games. However, the men stormed back to win the next two games to take what seemed to be a commanding two game lead at 4-2. At that point, the ladies charged back as unforced errors led to the women reeling off six straight games to take the crown.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the match was when Lisa, Josh, and Pascal traded their racquets off to three of the ball kids working this special match. It was the thrill of a lifetime for these ball kids to have the opportunity to hit with their heroes and be a part of history.
CLICK HERE for a full photo gallery from the Lisa Raymond Battle of the Sexes.
Earlier that day, the Freedoms were proud to announce hometown hero, long-time Freedoms player, and multi-time Grand Slam doubles champion Lisa Raymond as our new community ambassador. The announcement was made as part of a special luncheon at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse for local community tennis leaders.
In her first days as Freedoms ambassador on April 23rd and 24th, Lisa visited with nearly 300 local tennis players at six different facilities. These included the Upper Main Line YMCA, White Manor Country Club, Merion Cricket Club, Tennis Addiction, Frog Hollow Racquet Club, and the Althea Gibson Tennis Center. These clinics gave participants a chance to work up close and personal with their hometown hero on ways to improve their tennis games and learn more about the upcoming Freedoms season and players.
Perhaps the highlight of Lisa's tour through the Philadelphia tennis community was the launch of the Freedoms "10 and Under" program in partnership with the Althea Gibson Tennis Center, the Down The Line and Beyond Foundation, and People for People Charter School. As part of this very special clinic with Lisa, 60 children received Wilson junior tennis racquets through the Freedoms' partnership with the Beneficial Bank Foundation.
CLICK HERE for photos from the April 23rd and 24th clinics.
Pictured above at the April 19th luncheon (L-R): Freedoms Operations Director Kathy Spencer, Freedoms Senior Vice President and General Manager Barbara Perry, Cancer Treatment Centers of America Loyalty Manager Faith Williams, Freedoms Assistant Coach Nathan Healey, Freedoms Head Coach Josh Cohen, Wayne, PA, native Lisa Raymond, and Community Tennis Consultant Jeff Harrison.