“Who knows, I might win Wimbledon one day.” (1978)
The game that Elton has actively played more than any other is tennis. He’s also harnessed his love of the sport to great fundraising effect.
The best example of this is the World Team Tennis Smash Hits charity nights, now in their 20th year. Run in conjunction with his great friend and multiple champion Billie Jean King, Smash Hits has raised more than $10.5 million US for the Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) and various community-based AIDS charities.
Elton with close friend and occasional tennis partner, Billie Jean King
Elton and Billie Jean take part every year, alongside tennis greats such as Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Andy Roddick.
Roddick has his own charitable foundation to raise money for children’s organisations, and Elton is aware that giving is a two-way street. That’s why he appeared at a recent Andy Roddick Foundation Charity Gala, which raised more than U$1 million in one night.
He’s also helped tennis greats celebrate key moments in their lives. For example, back in 1999, he played an exclusive 45-minute “greatest hits”‘ set at the wedding of Pete Sampras, 14-time tennis Grand Slam winner.
Tennis is also the only sport to have provided direct inspiration for an Elton song. Philadelphia Freedom, recorded in the summer of 1974, took its title from Billie Jean King’s tennis team of the time. The bond between Billie Jean and Elton is strengthened by her role as Director of the EJAF US, now in its 24th year.
In the UK, six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker is among the EJAF Patrons.top