Navratilova, Connors go for the dough Pay-per-view event includes handicap

August 02, 1992|By Thomas Bonk | Thomas Bonk,Los Angeles Times

What are we to make of the Martina Navratilova-Jimmy Connors pay-per-view event on Sept. 25 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas?

Battle of the Sexes? That's already been taken. Two Geezers at Caesars? Sorry, that's been done already, too.

Whatever you call it, Navratilova, 35, and Connors, 39, are going to go at it -- for unspecified guarantees plus $500,000 supposedly earmarked for the winner only.

Navratilova gets a handicap to help even things up. Connors gets one serve and Navratilova will hit to a side of the court extended half the width of the doubles alley on both sides.

It's the tennis equivalent of a trick shot in pool, heavy on gimmicks and light on relevance.

So why are they doing it?

"We're doing it because it's a hell of a deal," said Connors, cutting to the chase as usual.

Obviously, age has done nothing to dull his reasoning. There's nothing wrong with doing it for the money; just don't let anybody go around attaching any tennis significance whatsoever to the result.

Said Navratilova: "Obviously, if we played straight up, Jimmy would beat me."

Promoter Rick Kulis of Event Entertainment called it the most anticipated event since Holyfield-Tyson, which never actually happened, but forget hyperbole for a moment. It's probably closer to all the hysteria generated by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing one-on-one with Julius Erving, which was almost nil.

No matter. Promoters Bertelsmen Music Group and Kulis are banking that cable viewers will spend $24.95 to watch the event as it happens in the 14,000-seat stadium in the hotel's parking lot. Ticket prices for the live gate range from $25 to $75.

Connors said that there is something else at stake besides money, though.

"It gives me the opportunity to be the unofficial women's champion, which is something I've always looked forward to."

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