You would have to pay Andy Roddick $1 million to trade in his iconic 150 mph tennis serve for a pickleball paddle, literally.
If we’re going down that path – you’d have to strip away the former world No. 1’s lethal inside forehand, jaw-dropping topspin and wicked speed – all tools that are nearly useless in the game of pickleball.
However, the 2003 U.S. Open champion is setting his sights to face tennis legends Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Michael Chang at the Pickleball Slam in Hollywood, Fla. on Sunday with the winner set to take home a one-million-dollar purse.
“What are we doing now? We’re playing pickleball. So I have to serve underhand. We can’t move against the guys that are 10 or 20 years older than me, and my power is negated,” Roddick told NBC on Friday. “Uh, and the stuff that McEnroe does well is amplified.”
Roddick, 40, is at least a decade younger than his competition and fellow Hall of Famers. McEnroe is the oldest at 64, while Agassi is 52 and Chang is 51.
Besides being temperamental and coining the phrase, “You cannot be serious,” the seven-time singles Grand Slam champion McEnroe is known for his touch, reflexes and anticipation – all key elements to the game of pickleball.
Roddick says he’s aware of the sport’s advantages, however, and considers himself to be “converted” at this point. He also says his three-year-old son Hank has enjoyed the simplicity of the sport.
“There’s probably a wider breadth of people that you can play with, easier to pick up… so I get the advantages,” Roddick said. “My son thinks tennis is, like, really hard to learn and he loves going out and hitting a pickleball.”
The million-dollar question, literally: Will pickleball translate to TV where it has a full viewing audience?
“That’s where my questions have come. I just don’t know. I’m a little skeptical of it, “Roddick admitted. “Hopefully what we’re doing this weekend is an additive and doesn’t take away from what the pros have been building.”
While the ceiling of pickleball is unknown, the list of owners the sport has gotten is quite legendary, including Tom Brady, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Drew Brees, Kim Clijsters, among others.
The exhibition is the latest attempt to garner attention to a sport taking over parks all over the country while still navigating its way on television. Roddick will play a round of singles against Chang, then McEnroe will take on Agassi before a McEnroe-Chang vs. Agassi-Roddick doubles showdown.
To prepare for the big day, Roddick says he will be enjoying a Pickleball Club – Subway’s newest menu addition set to launch on April 27 – that features, you guessed it, extra crunchy dill pickles.
The Pickleball Slam is set for Sunday, April 2, and will be televised live exclusively on ESPN at 12 p.m. ET.
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