- Lindsay Berra
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Here are six things you might not know bout James Blake's "Serving for a Cure" event in New York City on Dec. 1. Here's what Blake had to say leading up to the event:
1. There is one
"This is the first year the event will be in New York. It's at Pier 94 on Dec. 1, and all the proceeds will benefit the Thomas Blake, Sr., Memorial Cancer Research Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We're going to have a tennis exhibition, music, a fashion show and celebrity chefs. There's something for everyone. And we know the economy isn't where it once was, so we have tickets at all different levels to give people the opportunity to be a part of it."
2. James has cool friends
"When I first planned a charity event in 2005 as a tribute to my dad, I thought it would be a one-time thing, but the response I got was immediate. My friends John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw and Andy Roddick all immediately agreed to help, and we raised a lot of money. The event was in Virginia then, and we had seven or eight thousand people. Having it in New York will be very exciting, there will be a lot of familiar J-Block faces in the crowd."
3. Wyclef Jean is coming
"I first met Wyclef when he did a kick-off party for the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. That was a big rock show, and it was unbelievable how excited he got the crowd. This time, he'll play in a small setting. It will be quieter, more acoustic. I love his music. I loved the Fugees, my favorite song of theirs is probably "Ready or Not." And he's had great success on his own. I like Guantanamera."
4. So is Andy Roddick
"I met Andy at Wimbledon when he was 17 and I was 19, and he was cracking me up from the get-go. He was very personable and likable, always making fun of himself and joking around. We got to know each other better playing challenger events in towns that didn't have much of a night life. You'd be in little hotels, hitting Outback or the Olive Garden for dinner, playing cards and watching football at night. There were no entourages, no media requests, no time constraints. I met my best friends that way: Andy, Robby Ginepri, Mardy Fish, the Bryan brothers. Andy always tries to help me out whenever he can. We're going to play an exhibition match."
5. A-Rod has a lovely singing voice
"At my first event, Mardy Fish was the guest chair umpire, and at the coin toss he asked us what we were playing for. We decided that the loser would have to serenade a girl in a bar after the match. Top Gun style, with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." And then Mardy changed it up. He made an announcement to the crowd that the loser was going to serenade someone in the stands. I should have known he was going to make a scene. Andy lost, thank goodness. His performance was much better than mine would have been. He's more of a showman. He did a great job, and that girl he picked, she was a teenager, she definitely appreciated it. He's still upset about the whole thing, though. We went to a tiebreaker, and at six-all Andy was joking with my brother, asking him where he should go with the serve. And my brother tipped me off. Andy couldn't believe my brother ratted him out."
6. This is the biggest match of the year
"I love playing exhibitions. They're the most important matches of the year. All the quarterfinals and semifinals and finals you reach during the year are important for you personally. They help your ranking, they're financially big, the history you're chasing is big. But they don't matter to anyone else. These matches, even though the outcome doesn't matter, mean so much more for so many others. They can change lives and save lives, so the feeling of importance is much greater."
Lindsay Berra is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
15hEric D. Williams