Former Grand Slam winners John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi and Michael Chang will swap the tennis court for pickleball this weekend.
In a televised event on ESPN, the former ATP tennis professionals will face off in singles and double pickleball events to help raise the sport's profile.
It will be a new challenge for the quartet, who have 17 Grand Slam titles between them. When speaking to SCNow about the competition, Andy Roddick said participating in pickleball comes with new challenges compared to tennis.
"As I’m walking through the (pickleball) rules, I saw they took away my youth with (limited) movement, and they took away my serve with having to serve underhand. so I’m not really sure what’s left."
The tennis veterans will enter a singles knockout competition before moving on to the doubles event and a $1 million purse is on offer to the winners. Roddick will take on Chang before the blockbuster event of McEnroe vs Agassi. The players will then play doubles, with McEnore and Chang facing Roddick and Agassi.
Despite the host of superstars entering the exhibition, 2003 US Open champion Roddick said he respects Pickleball and those who play it but is still unsure of its ability to capture viewers on television.
"Everyone likes it instantly. It’s pretty well-regarded by people that play it, But you also don’t know if it will ever translate to TV and be a very watchable product without knowing the ins and outs and nuances that, frankly, I don’t know that people have the time to learn.”
Pickleball is an alternative racquet sport where the players have hollow paddles and lighter balls and it has grown in popularity over the last two decades. The game is played on smaller courts compared to tennis and many of the rules are different.