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NASSAU, Bahamas - Lindsay Davenport, Sabine Lisicki and Anna-Lena Groenefeld were among the WTA stars in the Bahamas over the weekend for the Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational.
Knowles, a recently-retired doubles legend, welcomed several players from both the men's and women's game to Atlantis, Paradise Island to help raise money for local children's charities like the Sassoon Heart Foundation (Pediatric), the Cancer Society For Pediatric Care, the Association for the Physically Disabled, the Special Olympics and Mark Knowles Tennis scholarships for promising junior players.
The proceeds brought in from this year's event topped $100,000, bringing the total amount of contributions over the 12 consecutive years of the event to approximately $900,000.
"It was another great year at the 12th MKCTI," Knowles said. "We raised a lot of money and had great support from our sponsorships. We had fantastic players down here. The impetus behind the event is to raise money for those that are in need, and we were very successful doing that again this year."
"It's always great to come here," Lisicki said. "I've known Mark for quite a few years and it's been a lot of fun to play. The fact that it helps kids makes me always want to come here to help. It's a nice place."
After a cocktail reception on Thursday, sponsors teamed up with the stars in the popular Pro-Am on Friday. The players, event organizers and sponsors reunited in the evening for a special dinner at the Ripples Deck, featuring a gourmet buffet and live and silent auctions - the items on offer included signed racquets from Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, a dual photograph signed by Roger Federer and Jack Nicklaus and the dress Serena Williams wore when she won this year's US Open final. The highest-selling item was a US Open poster signed by number of top players, which sold for $6,000.
The tennis exhibition on Saturday saw fans treated to three sets of tennis using the World TeamTennis format. Play opened with a mixed doubles match between Lisicki and Knowles against Davenport and Donald Johnson, and was followed by a men's singles encounter - Sam Querrey versus Xavier Malisse. In the final match-up, Knowles and Malisse took on Querrey and Alex Kuznetsov.
"Being on the west coast, we don't usually come this far east to vacation, so it's great," Davenport said. "I came here in 1999 and this is my next time here, so it's fun to be able to share it with my family now. Mark has become a good friend over the years, along with his wife Dawn and their kids.