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Celebrities raise huge tsunami relief fund



Anna Kournikova and her doubles partner Dr. Phil McGraw before their exhibition match during the Serving for Tsunami Relief charity event. — AP

HOUSTON, FEB. 1. Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, John McEnroe, Chris Evert and Jim Courier played a little fun tennis for a big cause on Monday night, helping to raise more than $518,000 (euro397,392) for tsunami relief.

Roddick, who lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the semifinals of the Australian Open, defeated Haas 7-6(6) in the feature match of the event for the Bush-Clinton Fund for Tsunami Relief.

Courier, whose production company put on the event, lost 6-4 to McEnroe in the opening match.

``Everything's going very smoothly except for the fact that I just lost to a guy who has more grey hair than my father,'' Courier said about the loss to 45-year-old McEnroe, 12 years his senior.

The Houston Chronicle reported in its Tuesday editions that one person who insisted on anonymity paid $250,000 (euro191,791) for 50 seats at the benefit at the Toyota Center and the United States Tennis Association contributed $25,000 (euro19,179). Former President George H.W. Bush accepted a giant cheque for $518,952 (euro398,122).

Evert praised the current players who participated in the event.

``They flew all the way in from Australia for this,'' she said. ``In my day, we never played charity events (during the season). To see Andy fly over after a very disappointing loss — I'm sure he's not very happy right now — that's really impressive.''

McEnroe said it's about players understanding their roles.

``Andy Roddick gets it, and Jim Courier gets it,'' he said. ``Tennis needs events like this, innovations, new ways to reach out to the fans. It's for a great cause, obviously, and it's also very good for the game. Jim has credibility because he has won (three Grand Slams).

``He's still young enough that the current players know him, but he's been around long enough for the older guys like myself to remember him beating up on me at the end of my career. It's a good combination, making it easy for him to reach a lot of people.''

The event was to help relief efforts in south Asia where the tsunami, triggered by a massive earthquake on December 26, killed more than 156,000 people in 11 countries. — AP

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