How the WTA has revolutionised women's tennis
The lead image is courtesy of wtatennis.com
Whoever wins the women’s singles title at Wimbledon next week will win £1.88m so we wanted to find out about the journey women’s tennis has been on since the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) was founded 42 years ago.
We asked Melissa Pine, Tournament Director of the WTA Finals in Singapore, to give us some background on the WTA and the development of women’s tennis and here’s her unique insight:
45 years ago, nine women led by Billie Jean King revolutionized women’s tennis by signing a one-dollar contract to establish a professional women’s tennis circuit. Three years later, King founded the Women’s Tennis Association to unite women’s professional tennis in a single tour. These extraordinary women had a vision many decades ago that transformed the game and we see today that our players are amongst the most recognizable and successful athletes on the planet.
Our players are not only athletes on the court; they are smart and successful businesswomen that transcend sports into the world of business and fashion. Branching out beyond tennis, we see the likes of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova carving out careers for themselves off-court.
We see a new generation of players, such as Eugenie Bouchard, creating a name for themselves and for the first time a woman top the SportsPro list of the 50 Most Marketable Athletes. At a young age of 21 years old, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist has a very bright future both on and off the court.
Consistently recognized as one of the most influential women in business, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, Stacey Allaster, has transformed the organization from one that is internally focused on players and tournaments to an externally facing marketing organization focuses on fans and partners to deliver value. During her tenure women’s tennis has broken records in broadcast deals, fan experience delivery through technology and social media and prize purses available to players. Women’s tennis has never been in a better position and led by strong women the future is very exciting.
Careers don't end for our athletes after they retire from the tour. We see many of our WTA Legends like Amelie Mauresmo and Lindsey Davenport taking on roles as coaches on the professional tour, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as commentators and Legend Ambassadors, and Kim Clijsters re-joining the WTA family as Tournament Director of the BNP Paribas Fortis Diamond Games in Antwerp.
And so we come back to one of the main reasons why the WTA was founded, change. Over the past two decades, the world has sped up rapidly and there is a need for the organization to stay nimble to adapt to market changes. Today we are proud to be leading the way for women in sports and in business; we want to be the most inspirational and exciting sport entertainment experience on the planet; we want to push boundaries and engage with more fans and bring the sport to new fans. We see the potential and we are proving that women can be successful in sports and in sports business and we will continue to pave the way for equal opportunities for women for many years to come.
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing 92 nations competing for a record $129 million in prize money at the WTA’s 55 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. More than 5.4 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2014 with millions more watching on television and digital channels around the world. The 2015 WTA competitive season concludes with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore, presented by SC Global, from October 23-November 1, 2015 and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China, from November 2-8, 2015. Further information on the WTA can be found at: www.wtatennis.com; facebook.com/WTA and twitter.com/WTA.
About BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global
The WTA Finals began in 1972 and the 2015 edition will be the 45th staging of the event and the second consecutive year that the tournament will be hosted in Singapore. Nine different cities have hosted the WTA Finals and Singapore is the first city in Asia-Pacific that will host the event until 2018. There have been 18 winners over the years, 15 of these have been former World No.1s and 10 different nations have won the title. The WTA Finals will see the top-eight Singles and Doubles players compete in a Round Robin format for USD$7 million prize purse. In addition to the Singles and Doubles tournaments, there will also be a WTA Legends Classic showcase, WTA Rising Stars matches and WTA Future Stars tournament.