Stars from the tennis and entertainment world came together for charity at the La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort on Tuesday for the 14th annual Desert Smash, which was presented by Tennis Channel.
The big names were out in full force, including 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, whose Yetunde Price Resource Center was one of the charities Desert Smash raised money for.
“I’m really excited to support the Yetunde Price Resource Center,” Serena said. “It provides resources for young children who’ve had to deal with violence and death. When my sister Yetunde was killed, we had such a strong family and community who helped us rally—but not everybody has that.
“Thank you to everyone who came out today to support this wonderful cause.”
Serena Williams takes the court at Desert Smash:
Serena, who’s playing her first tournament in more than a year at Indian Wells this year, played a mixed doubles match alongside actor and close friend Colton Haynes—best known for Teen Wolf and Arrow—against a fellow mom-on-tour and actor pairing in Victoria Azarenka and Boris Kodjoe.
Azarenka and Kodjoe squeaked out a 7-6 win, then the foursome joined emcee Brett Haber for a post-match interview, where Serena and Azarenka discussed their returns to the tour as mothers.
“When I was pregnant, I would text Vika a lot. She really helped me a lot,” Serena said.
“We can’t wait until our babies meet and have playdates!” Azarenka added.
Kodjoe, who was a top junior player, is actually the co-founder of the second charity this year’s Desert Smash was benefiting: the Sophie’s Voice Foundation. He and fellow actor Nicole Ari Parker began the foundation in honor of their daughter, Sophie, who was diagnosed with Spina Bifida at birth. Spina Bifida—or open spine—is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States.
Serena and Azarenka weren’t the only professional players to take the court—Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung, Wimbledon semifinalist Sam Querrey and 16-time Grand Slam doubles champions the Bryan Brothers were also on hand, all playing exhibition matches for charity.
Highlights from Chung's match against Querrey:
The celebrity list was long too. In addition to Haynes and Kodjoe, some of the big names included WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, who hosted the red carpet; NBA star Jason Collins; top comedian Wanda Sykes, who umpired the matches; world-famous DJ Bob Sinclar; Curb Your Enthusiasm star JB Smoove; gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci; and Dr. Phil, who attended with his wife Robin.
Items and fan experiences were auctioned off throughout the event, and the total amount raised will be revealed soon.
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