Roddick and friends entertain thousands
Published Monday, December 13, 2004 at 1:00 am
by Hannon Deutsch
Andy Roddick’s fast rise to the top of the ATP tour has made him one of the most sought after athletes in professional sports.
But it’s not what he accomplishes on the court that matters as much as what Roddick does off it.
In 2001, a year after turning pro, the Andy Roddick Foundation was formed. Roddick’s pro-celebrity annual event is an umbrella that feeds numerous children’s charities.
But it wasn’t until he had a conversation with Andre Aggassi until he realized how much he could do for other people.
“I was on a plane flight with Andre Aggassi when I was 17 and I was pretty much scared to say anything, him being one of my idols and all,” said the Boca Raton native. “I asked him what his biggest regret was and I was expecting him to say something tennis related. And he said he didn’t start his children’s foundation early enough. So, the next year we started mine and now we’re in our fourth year. I just didn’t want to look back and have the same regret as he did.”
Roddick’s foundation had raised $1.5 million to date, including $850,000 from this year alone. The fourth annual charity event was held at the Polo Club this weekend and featured a pro-celebrity exhibition that included John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Sebastien Grosjean, Anna Kournikova Aaron Krickstein and Jeff Conine, among others.
Roddick and McEnroe, two of the greatest players ever to pick up a tennis racquet, treated 2,400 people to a classic match. There weren’t any signature jarring matches between McEnroe and the umpire (Conine) or whining about calls. Instead, the three-time Wimbledon champ fell with class to Roddick 6-4 in a match where both players were competing to win for a good cause.
To Roddick, the match was a small part of a bigger picture.
“There’s a bigger picture than me and McEnroe trying to beat each other here this weekend,” said Roddick, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world. “It’s pretty nice when you have players of this caliber coming out on a favor trying to help. It’s pretty cool.”
McEnroe shared the same sentiments but went on to say athletes should give back to the community because it is the right thing to do. When fame and celebrity hits it is easy to lose touch with the meaningful things in life.
“This is my first time here but hopefully not the last,” said McEnroe, who has won 17 Grand Slam championships. “When you have gotten as much from the sport as I have you want to keep yourself in touch with the real world. I think a good way to do that is to help kids that are struggling. It makes you appreciate what you have by giving something back.”
Although Kournikova didn’t take part in a tennis match, she played with the children in the kid’s zone and signed autographs. Roddick and other athletes have inspired Kournikova to use her name for a good cause.
“It’s something that I am connected to and wanted to do for a long time,” she said. “I started working with the Boys and Girls Club this year in Miami. It was great to come out here for this particular cause.”