Tennis Channel has extended its on-air relationships with two stars who both got the most out of their time on the court: Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova and multi-Slam champion and Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Davenport. The multiyear contracts come on the eve of the network's fourth year of covering the Australian Open, tennis' first major tournament of the season, beginning Monday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. ET. The network has close to 30 hours of live match play lined up for the two-week competition, with 75 additional hours of daily morning show Australian Open Today.
Navratilova, who has been in Tennis Channel's broadcast booth for every one of the network's Grand Slam telecasts, will resume her role as lead commentator in Melbourne, again pairing with veteran sportscaster Bill Macatee as the action gets going Down Under. The 59-time Grand Slam champion and winner of more singles titles than anyone in professional tennis will continue the role she has held with the channel since its first major, the 2007 French Open, covering all four Slams - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
"It's amazing to think about how far we've come since starting with just the French Open in 2007 to now covering all four Slams on Tennis Channel every year," said Navratilova. "It's been wonderful working with Bill Macatee and the entire crew at these great events and I can't wait to return to Melbourne and get started on the new Slam season."
In 2011 Davenport will join the Australian Open team for the first time, tackling match analysis, appearing in feature material, roaming the tournament grounds, and handling sideline and interview duties. She is a veteran of numerous network tournament telecasts in recent years, including her recurring role as host of US Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open. She has been a part of Tennis Channel's broadcast team for the past three season-ending women's championships and in 2010 provided on-site analysis at the French Open before appearing regularly at Olympus US Open Series events on the network during the summer.
She will significantly broaden her duties with the channel under her new agreement, appearing during coverage of all four Grand Slams, the Olympus US Open Series, Fed Cup and other competitions. The former No. 1-ranked singles and doubles player will have an on-air presence throughout the year while lending her expertise online through blogs and Q&A's on the network's Web site, www.tennischannel.com, and through other digital and social media platforms.
"I've enjoyed working with Tennis Channel during the past few years, and I'm excited to build on that relationship, starting with the Australian Open this month" said Davenport. "I'm also really looking forward to interacting with our viewers through Tennis Channel's Web site. There are so many great stories taking place in tennis as we head into 2011."
In all, Tennis Channel will cover close to 30 hours of live match play over the two weeks of this year's Australian Open, from the first day of play through the singles quarterfinals, doubles championships and mixed-doubles final. The network will again televise same-day encore coverage of the men's and women's singles semifinals and finals in prime time (ET), giving viewers close to 70 total hours of live and encore coverage. In adding the men's and women's encore singles finals to its live doubles championship coverage, the channel will air all five Australian Open finals, as it has done each year since 2008, when it became the first American television network to carry every one of these events.
The network's morning program Australian Open Today will show U.S. viewers what happened on the other side of the world while they were sleeping. The daily, six-hour show will air at 8 a.m. ET most mornings (complete schedule follows) with encore and unseen matches, highlights, original features and more. In all, Tennis Channel will air 75 hours of Australian Open Today during the tournament.
The tournament is part of Tennis Channel's ongoing Grand Slam alliance with ESPN, which offers audiences a near round-the-clock tournament experience at tennis' major events. ESPN is producing all Australian Open coverage for both networks, which will cross-promote each other with each channel utilizing its own commentators.