home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
Asaptext.com
ASAPtext.com
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our
e-Brochure

WTA STATE OF THE TOUR PRESS CONFERENCE


October 25, 2014


Stacey Allaster

Tracy Austin

Billie Jean King


ANDREW KRASNY:テつ Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 44th...
BILLIE JEAN KING:テつ Good morning:
ANDREW KRASNY:テつ Thank you for saying good morning.
BILLIE JEAN KING:テつ Aren't we family?
ANDREW KRASNY:テつ It is family.テつ And I got to tell you, still to hear Billie Jean King say my name makes my heart jump through my suit.テつ It's incredible.
Welcome everybody to the 44th BNP WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
My name is Andrew Krasny.テつ I'm honored to be your emcee this week.テつ So much to happen.テつ So much to take place today.テつ Big welcome to all of our tennis fans around the world who are watching is on wtatennis.com.
We're going to be joined by our Chairman & CEO in just a few moments, Stacey Allaster, who will give her state of the WTA and taking all of your questions.
Following Stacey and your questions, our matches start.テつ Alla Kudryavtseva and her partner, Anastasia Rodionova.テつ Are taking on our defending champions, Peng Shuai and Hsieh Su‑Wei.
Then our defending singles champion, No. 1 player in the world, Serena Williams, takes on Caroline Wozniacki.
Okay, so you know that already.
Without further ado, lets take a look at the WTA's 2014 season in review.
(Video shown.)
ANDREW KRASNY:テつ Distinguished guests and invited media and everybody here, please join me in welcoming WTA Chairman & CEO, Stacey Allaster.
(Applause.)
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Good morning and good evening all our fans who are watching in the west.テつ Hopefully my son and daughter Jack and Alex are not watching.テつ They should be in bed by now.
This is my occasion to thank millions of people who have put their heart and souls into those images that we just watched to make 2014, I think, one of the most successful years of the WTA.
54 tournaments; 33 countries.テつ More than 5 million fans watched women's tennis; 350 million watched on television; 100 million watched through social media.
To all of the tournament directors, to all of the sponsors of our tournaments, we are indebted for your confidence and for your investment in women's tennis and women's sport.
I just wish there were more brands like all of you and more promoters who had the same courage to promote women's sport.
But how lucky are we that we have the best?
To all of the athletes who gave their heart and soul, day in, day out over a long 43‑week period.テつ You make women's tennis number one, and it is my great honor to represent you.
This Road to Singapore.テつ Here we are at our first‑ever season finale in Asia‑Pacific.テつ As I said last Saturday, this is a historic moment for the WTA.
When Teck Yin Lim and Andrew Georgiou and Lionel Yeo came to St. Petersburg in April last year presenting to our board, I had some board members say to me after your presentation they had goosebumps.
They could feel the opportunity that bringing our WTA Finals to your beautiful, innovative city would put us on top of the world.テつ You have done that.
It has been our collective goal, the World Sport Group, Sport Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board, and my entire WTA family:テつ the board, the management team, and all of our staff to make this the best WTA Finals in our history.
We have done it.テつ Congratulations, and thank you for making us just the best sport entertainment experience on earth.
(Applause).
A few nuggets.テつ We're sitting at 92,000, which two semis to go and a final, so I think we're all pretty confident going to get close to a 100,000.
I think that that number doesn't even include all of the fans that came for the FanFest, so for certain we will exceed that goal.
To give you context, the last time the WTA Finals had 100,000 fans participating, anybody know?
VIP:テつ The Garden.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ That's right, ladies.テつ So we're back into the Garden days as we are here now in this garden city.テつ We were in the 100,000 mark in '91, '92, and '93.テつ Anyone want to guess who was playing?
Martina was playing.テつ How cool is it now as we bring in this historic journey that you're with us.
So we began back in May at the pleasure of phoning you at Monday morning, and Laurence was already on his way to set up the press conference to announce that you would be our host city for the next five years.
This is my favorite photo.テつ Why?テつ The smiling gentlemen who worked so hard to win the bid, but more importantly, look a little those little girls holding that Billie Jean King trophy.
At the end of the day, that is really what this is all about:テつ inspiring little girls and boys to play tennis and live life through sport.
For the first time in our history, we launched a 43‑week, year‑long promotional campaign.テつ It was a new day for the WTA that in Brisbane and Auckland and Shenzhen, the Road to Singapore began.
The road continued.テつ After Crissy spent a long two and a half weeks in Australia promoting women's tennis through your ESPN broadcast duties, she said, Yes, Stacey, I will come to Singapore to officially launch the BNP Paribas Finals presented by SC Global.テつ And what a magical day that was.
Again I've chosen the photos that certainly are personal to me.テつ When you were with Genie, again, those little girls, that's really what it was all about.
There is the beautiful Singapore.テつ Innovative.テつ Having our two stars show off iconic Singapore.テつ And of course they're so talented that they can play tennis in their heels on top of the world at the beautiful Marina Bay Sands, which has made our players so happy this past week.
Crissy, relentless in promoting women's tennis.テつ She was at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and I said, Will you come along and sign some autographs?テつ Of course.テつ No problem, Stace.
Our fan booth.テつ That was new this year, and it was, again, all about helping fans understand that these 54 events in 33 countries are all connected and the road will lead here.
Here we are at the US Open, and Petra Kvitova is sharing her time with the fans.
Martina is also so giving of her time to promote women's tennis.テつ She came to Singapore in August just before a very busy time in the tennis season, the US Open.テつ Again, thank you for giving of yourself, coming all this way before the Open.
And there is, again, why we're here for Singapore sport and sharing your knowledge and inspiration for youth.
On this note Teck Yin, it's hard for me to say what's the favorite moment, but this is the first time the WTA has ever been involved in junior development.テつ Together with our partnership, I think we have created something very special.
When we first sat, you said you want this finals to belong to Asia.テつ The WTA future stars really was our opportunity to back that up; 12 countries participated in the future stars, and to have those under‑14 and under‑16 girls come here and have this experience, play their final on the big stage, we're achieving our goal about inspiring youth through sport.
And who knows?テつ There may be a diamond in the rough and real WTA future stars on the horizon.
We have not debriefed yet, but I'm quite certain we have like minds that we have only begun with the WTA future stars, and certainly will be my goal to take this global.
Again, another personal favorite.テつ Could there be anything more special to have our great Li Na, Asia Pacific's hero, handing the torch to the future stars of Asia.
Another gem together with Andrew Georgiou that we created ‑ and I thank you for your partnership to make this happen‑‑ the WTA Rising Stars.テつ There has been also a push in 2014 for us to promote the next generation.テつ The Rising Stars, this was the new event to promote those athletes who haven't made the finals, but we believe will make the WTA Finals through the course of our five years here in Singapore.
It was also critically important that we profile Asian athletes.テつ So two from Asia and two from the rest of the word.テつ We asked the fans to vote on who they wanted to be here.テつ We had 700,000 votes over the course of a four‑week period.
And the great thing about that is the votes start on the second Tuesday of the US Open and carried through as the WTA came to Asia, amplifying and increasing the promotion not only of the Rising Stars, but of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals.
Was anyone going to come and watch?テつ That's what we were questioning.テつ Boy, they came and watched.テつ There was even a standing room.テつ They couldn't get in.テつ The fans really love the competition.テつ I can tell you being you, those two finalists, Monica Puig and Saisai, as I had my photo with them, they're crying.
They just said to me, Stace, this was the best event ever.テつ It meant so much to them to be part of these WTA Finals.テつ So thank you Andrew for the opportunity, and Ashley Keeber, you also put your heart and soul into the WTA Rising Stars to make these young athletes feel special.
Here we are, past, present, and future.テつ That's what these finals have been about.テつ Not only historic in bringing them to Asia Pacific for the first time, but the first time in our history bringing our past champions back together with our rising stars and our future stars.
I said in the press conference this is the greatest assembly of talent the WTA has assembled.テつ The number of weeks athletes held the No. 1 ranking is just over 1,600 through the aggregate of all of the legends and of our current players.
And together, the number of WTA singles and doubles titles and your Grand Slam titles, almost 750.テつ I can't think of another occasion where we have had all of you together.
That draw ceremony, Sara, you rocked.テつ We wanted this event to be premium and accessible to the community.テつ When I came to Singapore, in September before the F1 last year, the press were pushing me.テつ How are you going to make this event accessible to the community?テつ That was then our opportunity.テつ Have an office here, live here 365, be part of the community.
And we wanted as much as possible to make the finals as accessibility.テつ The FanFest was also a proof point in making it available to all Singaporeans.テつ But this the draw ceremony, the first time in our history that we held it‑‑ I don't know where John Learing is.テつ He was working with Marina Bay Sands, and they were, there might be a little bit too many people.テつ John said, That is going to be a great problem.
And the fans loved it.テつ There is so much opportunity for us to put on a show.テつ The draw used to be done in a little hotel room in the past, but now, look at the fans being engaged.テつ To hear the roars when the athletes walked out was incredible.
Again, I'm choosing photos that are my personal favorites.テつ Why?テつ We see them in their tough mode, their game face mode.テつ Rarely do we see them kind of relaxed, especially at a draw ceremony.
And I think ‑ my team won't tell me this ‑ they were laughing at me.テつ That was on the occasion where the riser was being put in place so I could grow six feet, or six inches, so almost near their height.
I don't think we ever could have dreamt of a better field, a better group of talented athletes, from the established stars to the world No. 1 and the two most exciting newest stars.テつ I can't call them rising stars anymore.テつ And they have given it their all on the court.
We have had exceptional matches throughout the week.テつ Bringing back eight teams to the WTA Finals was very special.テつ Billie, I think if you look at that picture, the dream was a girl from anywhere in the world.テつ How global is that photo when we look at where everyone is from?
And of course, now here on the stage memorialized forever, the contributions of one of the greatest players of all‑time, record with the most titles in singles, doubles, and mixed, the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Trophy, designed, of course, with Martina's input.テつ I think it's exceptional.
Would they come?テつ That was the nervousness.テつ You would see the tickets and see the tickets.テつ But you just don't know when you go to a new market, a new market that's never really had women's professional tennis like this, and they have come in droves.
Really has been inspiring to sit in the stadium, not only on Monday night but Wednesday and Tuesday afternoon and Friday afternoon.テつ It's just been outstanding.
The Singapore Sizzle opening night.テつ We would only open the BNP Paribas WTA Finals once, and what a show.テつ I thank everyone on the WSG operations team for putting on a fantastic show.
I don't know if Michael Feurer is here.テつ There he is.テつ He's hiding.テつ Is he still awake?テつ Michael Feurer, one of the best in the business.テつ We wanted the best in the business to help us have the creative vision and to work with WSG.
Hats off, mate.テつ You more than rocked it for us.
Li Na, she had to retire, okay.テつ But immediately she said, Stace, I will come to Singapore.テつ We thought it was very ceremonial that she would hit the serve for the first serve for the first‑ever WTA Finals in Asia Pacific.テつ Yes, Billie, in her heels.テつ And she even hit some balls in those heels.
It was pretty funny.テつ It took us a while to get her this think she was going to do the serve, and then it was quite fun when she started to rally with that young girl.テつ She's an incredible woman, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her in our sport.
It's fitting to have the opening match with our world No. 1.テつ And, again, I thank the Singaporean fans for embracing and loving the product.テつ Nothing energized the athletes more than a full house and engaged fans.
Again, that was another, Are they going to get into it?テつ And they have gotten into it and shown the athlete's their love.
We come to live better through sport, one of the fundamental reasons why Singapore has invested in these WTA Finals.テつ There we have Minister Wong spending some time with Li Na.
We have now ball boys, line officials.テつ We're going to have chair umpires on the WTA coming from Singapore.テつ All of these elements of sport development are part of our plan, and we've already launched them.
Our first coaches' conference at the WTA Finals.テつ How great to have or legends here.テつ I think Mary you helped out as well.テつ You were there, yes, as one of our coaches.テつ We need more women coaches.
There we have two of them right there with Iva Majoli and Mary.テつ Li Na spent time with Sport Singapore.テつ I think every legend that's been involved has spent time with sport development.テつ They have so much knowledge to share, and that's one of the primary reasons we brought all our past champions back.
Marion is into, it and nothing better than seeing Martina Navratilova on court with an aspiring young one.テつ Iva and Marion with school girls.テつ Maybe they had never picked up a racquet.テつ Hopefully that brief moment with you, they will.テつ They will go home and say to mom or dad‑‑ I think it's mom; mom makes all the decisions here‑‑ I want to play tennis.
Andrew, I get the same kind of heartbeat, and it's just always kind of surreal for me.テつ To have our founder, Billie Jean King, here in Asia for our first WTA finals, and for you to present your trophy to our first champion here is a great honor, and I really appreciate you making the journey.
We have the Billie Jean King Power Hour at the US Open, so we had our own power hour with Billie here in Singapore with the locals.テつ Every time you're around Billie she is just so positive.
And last, I could not let this 2014 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global without a great deal of thanks to all of the sponsors, but in particular BNP Paribas.テつ They are the number one sponsor in tennis, title sponsor of so many WTA events.
We had them in Istanbul and they were a great partner.テつ It's terrific that they have decided to join us here.
And to SC Global, also a wonderful new partner.テつ I saw Simon, and he just said, This is the best.テつ And that is great news to us.テつ I think what I most admire about SC Global is they have gone into the schools here in Singapore.テつ 10,000 kids have been exposed to tennis, and they have a five‑year commitment to get more kids in schools playing tennis.
That is fundamental to the overall sport development strategy.
So a round of applause for the 2014 Finals.テつ (Applause.)
A few moments of greatness in 2014 before we move to the future.テつ I don't think there is anything better than No. 18, with the record holders of No. 18.
Serena worked really hard this year wanting to get it in Roland Garros, wanting to get it at Wimbledon.テつ There was a reason it didn't happen.テつ You guys were meant to be there.
It was quite poetic that she won No. 18 at the US Open, her home slam, with Crissy and Martina.
It has been quite something to watch Simona Halep.テつ Last year I was in Sofia with her.テつ I watched her opening match.テつ I got back to the hotel and I got an e‑mail from her.テつ She said, Thanks for staying to watch my match.
I have never had an athlete send me a note and thank me for watching their match.テつ This woman is unbelievable off the court.テつ I'm so happy for her that she is performing the way she is on the court.
She is said it in all of her press:テつ I want to get to the big one.テつ Last year when I was in Sofia, I wanted to get to the big one.テつ She is big time here in the semis today.
Eugenie Bouchard.テつ Yes, she's Canadian; I am Canadian.テつ It's not why she is in my slides.テつ But it was special to see a Canadian flag in the stadium.テつ I waited a long time in my tennis life to see that happen.
But I think with Genie, she's arrived.テつ Had such a consistent performance in the Grand Slams through Wimbledon.テつ One thing about Genie, I'm going to talk about our new fan programs.テつ Sat with her at US Open.テつ She goes, Stace, I love all of this stuff.テつ We need to do more of it.テつ She's really engage with the fans.
As we look to the future, she's the type of player that the WTA needs to achieve our growth.
We had 13 first‑time winners on the WTA, which is really cool.テつ We think about the depth of talent on the bench, as we know our established stars are in their sunset years.
They're coming and playing great ball and it's really an exciting time for women's tennis.テつ Four amazing champions, four different champions winning the Grand Slams, all with unique stories unto them.
It was a great year for each of them.テつ It was great Li Na could final get that second one and get that Australian Open that she so deserved.
And we finish, it has been quite fun to watch this rivalry of the No. 1 ranking.テつ I think it really made a difference for both of them.テつ We know Serena had some knee issues, but she got here and she wanted that No. 1 ranking.
For the WTA, that's very important.テつ We're working with the young athletes.テつ Yes, you want to win slams and that's your dream, but I also want you dreaming about being the world No. 1 and winning the BNP Paribas Finals.テつ We're getting there.テつ I think Serena is really focused on ending the year No. 1.
It was a mixed year with the great Li Na retiring, but it was also a new day for her.テつ And she's all in.テつ She now is a legend, and she's immediately gone into that role, the fact that she came here, and she's agreed to be an official ambassador in 2015.
When we think about the WTA's Asia Pacific strategy, I need an active legend involved in the business side.テつ It's been great to work with her so far.テつ She's a happy woman, and that's what we want.テつ I think her contributions to the sport have only begun.
Now we go to the future.テつ There we have the original nine.テつ Billie is in there, as you can see.テつ Just a few years ago.テつ These are the nine women who had the courage to start women's professional tennis.
In 1973, they formed the WTA along with 63 women.テつ Ingrid Benson is here.テつ You were one in that room who was locking the door and no one was leaving until the WTA was formed.
Last year as we celebrated our 40th anniversary, we talked about where is the WTA going in the next decade, where is our growth.テつ This slide, our responsibility, our legacy, same slide I use with the athletes in our tournaments and our board and our global advisory council.
We all have a tremendous amount of responsibility to take this WTA that has been built by these amazing champions to the next place and leave it in a better place.
Our vision:テつ Be the most inspirational and exciting sport entertainment experience on earth.テつ These WTA Finals are Exhibit A of the vision and how we are doing it.
For the first time in our history, we are talking about the fans.テつ In the past we would have meetings.テつ Oh, we can't do that.テつ It's not good for tournaments.テつ We can't do that.テつ It's not good for players.
As a board and in the player council and tournament council, we were trying to be disciplined to focus on what the fans want.テつ If we focus on what the fans want, that really is going to propel the exceptional long‑term growth for our members and all of our sponsors.
The foundation, 54 events in 33 countries.テつ We were now nicely balanced in the Americas, in Europe, Middle East, and now in Asia with a proper swing.
Many say to me, After the US Open the tennis season is over.テつ I would have to respectfully say I think they're looking at that with a lens from the west.
If you look at that map, there are now 13 events in Asia post‑US Open, with the season finale here.
The athletes can come to Asia and have a swing and stay Asia.テつ China, we made the big bet in China in 2008.テつ We had two events in 2008; in 2015, seven premier and internationals on the main tour.テつ Then an additional four tournaments that really are development opportunities, the WTA 125s.
So to think, 11 events in China in 2015 is really quite remarkable.テつ That really will give us that foundation of an annual presence to bring the excitement and exposure for women's tennis, and also contribute to development.
First time in our history we opened an office in Singapore, in the host city.テつ Why?テつ We think and we know that Singapore provides us with a gateway to Southeast Asia.テつ We have our China strategy with a dedicated office for China, but by putting down our roots here, it will help us to grow our brand and business and fan base in Southeast Asia.
40% of the world's population lives within a seven‑hour radius from here, which is really quite amazing.
We think about the growth, this is where we can have some real exponential growth.テつ But you've got to be in these markets.
Here to support the World Sport Group for this to be the best finals in our history, and for us with so many events now in Asia Pacific, it's a long way from St. Petersburg, Florida to have resources and staff here with Melissa Pine, our vice president of Asia Pacific, to lead the region and provide services to our members.
Where are we going?テつ How are we going to kick it?テつ How are we going to take this organization that these great legends have built?テつ It's all based on facts.テつ Talking to fans.テつ Crazy.テつ Talked to fans and even sports fans who are not tennis fans.
We spent six months interviewing 5,000 fans.テつ We talked to members, industry leaders, on what we could do better to grow.テつ Investors, those that are not investing in tennis, what could we do, and for properties that we thought are really do doing a great job in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
At the end of the day, all this research crystalized that our new 2020 business strategy, we need to improve the connection of our players.テつ I think our athletes do a great job, but we're going to be asking them to do more.
We have to give more to fans, give more to sponsors, to be able to get the prize money that they deserve.テつ We need to create new assets to be able to generate more central cash flow so that we can have more marketing and flow more monies back to the members.
We need to make this season easier to follow.テつ The great news is we're global.テつ 54 events; 33 countries.テつ How does it all connect when we're yinging and yanging.
The Road to Singapore is a marketing strategy that helps us do that, along with defining the season.テつ Life content on multiple platforms delivering the very best world class product consistently across the 54 tournaments.
Many of our tournaments do it very well.テつ We've got to help others come up.テつ This is the No. 1 professional sport for women.テつ It has to be best in class whenever our brand is on the court, and we need to elevate the brand and the awareness of the brand.
The goals are simple:テつ build the product that the fans and sponsors want, support our members' business, provide the organization with financial stability, we need more diversified revenues, and we want to be that central organization where the members come to us for services.
How will we win?テつ We start with the brand.テつ Launching today our 2015 new brand.テつ We spent time on the WTA Finals brand, but what does the WTA brans mean?テつ Working with Highlight Event & Entertainment, the same group that did the WTA Finals brand.テつ And this is where we've netted out on what the WTA brand means.
The idea, because the WTA is powerful.テつ It inspires and connects emotionally with fans.テつ Power to inspire.テつ We want consumers to think of the WTA, that it's very powerful and inspirational not only on the court, but the athletes have incredible inspirational stories off the court.
Our story is inspirational from the original nine, to breaking barriers, equal prize money, coming to Asia, you know, having the courage to do all that.
So the essence is it's powerful physically and mentally.テつ It's very emotive in our imagery and that it's the power of seeing the world's best.
The concept with be this duality of a player portrait, action of the player, use of power words putting the city codes in there so all of these 54 tournament in those cities are connected to the global tour, and then the city background will be there.
Here are just a few examples of doing the one player execution.テつ You can see the mental imagery and then the physical power coming through it.
It works very well for doubles, and ultimately we want our tournaments to use it.テつ It'll be flexible enough that our tournaments can still put it in their local templates for their title sponsors, but you can see to come to life for the Rogers Cup.
Television will be the primary place that we build the brand.テつ We have 62 licensees.テつ We want to give them the toolkits through their 80,000 hours of broadcast, John?テつ 80,000 hours of broadcast.テつ It's such a massive opportunity for us to build this brand through broadcast.テつ So this is the beginning of the opening to the show of every WTA match.
You can see it come, The Power to Inspire.テつ Then of course, Trace, we put you in here.テつ Additional toolkits will be given to all the broadcasters to tie it together.
How will we bring the fans closer?テつ How do we become the most fan‑friendly sport entertainment experience on earth?テつ This is the same slide that I used in all of my player meeting all throughout the summer and then during the US Open.
In that space, four pillars.テつ Going to touch on them.テつ At a high, high level, the practice court area, pre‑imposed match‑fan engagement.テつ We've got to create those money‑can't‑buy experiences like golf has done.
We're going to focus with a renewed effort in grassroots where we know people are playing, and we'll obviously target certain markets.
So on the practice courts we're going to make it part of the show.テつ We're going to ask the athletes once a week after a practice session that they stay on court and they hit with kids.テつ Get the racquet in the kids' hands.テつ They want to play with the athletes.テつ They don't just want an autograph anymore.
We want those intangible experiences that they play.テつ We tested it here and we're going to be testing it in 2015.テつ Going to work through, and then, of course, provide the opportunity for others to get those selfies as well.
Other thing we want to do with the practice court is livestream the practices.テつ That's part of the show.テつ Not all athletes are going to want to do that.テつ We'll work with the athletes where they're comfortable.
But I know that when I watched you guys up at York University, all three of you, I would just hang out at the practice courts.テつ That's all I did.テつ I loved it.
We want, at every 54 tournaments, as the athlete walks out, that she walks out with a little girl.テつ We want that connection with youth sport.テつ We want that inspirational opportunity.テつ That's Anastasia.テつ She'll remember that for her life, and hopefully she'll want to play tennis or she'll want to play sport.
The money‑can't‑buy experiences, whether they're sponsors or fans or with ledge ends or with the athletes, we've got to find a way on a regular basis that the athletes are playing with the sponsors.
It's way beyond signage and brand alignment.テつ There has to be more for us to be competitive and win in the space.テつ The big one is technology and data.テつ Mobility, digital, social, and live broadcast.テつ We have so much content.
I start with technology and data.テつ Our partners not only at SAP but Xerox are making a massive difference in helping the WTA.テつ Xerox created the WTA TV app.テつ Nobody knows where to find us.テつ Xerox helped us with the WTA TV app.
So you click on it wherever you are in the world, and it will tell you where you can watch WTA tennis.
With SAP, they created the WTA Finals app.テつ Everyone has downloaded it, right?テつ If not, there's still time.
This really, I believe is the space for us to win.テつ We want to have WTA anywhere, any time, 365.テつ We want to have that app experience in‑venue, and then when we finish a tournament and we move to another city, we've got those fans and we want to stay connected with them.
So it we move from Indian Wells to Miami, if they have the app and we know they're a fan of Serena's, Serena can say, Hey, guys.テつ I'm in Miami.テつ I'm playing Tuesday night on the Tennis Channel.
We need to push more, promote more, help fans find it through connectivity.テつ There is obviously a host of amazing fan engagement opportunities we can do through the app.
Social media.テつ We have 100 million fans engaged in social media right ow.テつ This is a golden opportunity for us to connect with younger fans.テつ Our athletes love it, and 40 million of the 100,000 million are in Asia.テつ So certainly for our Asia Pacific strategy, this will be where it's at.
Then of course SAP has been transforming, with the use of data, to give the athletes that competitive advantage, to make the job more interesting so you guys can tell more stories on air with the data.
We have 3,000 matches every year.テつ In the database right now, SAP HANA database, we have matches all the way back to 2008.
Could you imagine pulling up something about Ana in 2008 how she played and how she's playing right now?テつ Yeah.テつ It's really transformational for us.
We announced earlier this week with our on‑court coaching that the data is available.
We are going to allow, with an approved device, the ability for the coach‑ if the athlete wants‑ for the coach to bring an approved device on court with the data.
This has been a co‑innovation.テつ The coaches have been great.テつ I think the athletes will use it in different kinds of ways, settling them down, kind of like electronic line calling.
It was really cool when we were here.テつ Tracy was sitting beside Ana, and she said, Could you see where Serena was hitting those second serves?テつ Too bad you didn't have that visual when your coach came out.
The big game changer, live content across multiple platforms.テつ The board is fully supported by 2017.テつ All 2000 main draw singles matches on the WTA across our 54 tournaments will be broadcast.
Let me put that in context for you.テつ In 2012 we only broadcasted 250 of the 2000.テつ In 2014 we have 450 on the world feed, and another 300 going to tennistv.com.
So we have 700.テつ We still have two thirds of our product not being seen by our fans.テつ Fans want to connect with their national heros.テつ This will be that opportunity that they can follow their national heroes and we'll be able to increase the exposure for our brand, build those rising stars, give more value to the sponsors, and we're going to have this strategy finished by year‑end and start to build it.
Also have the team on the ground.テつ We'll be able to collect content for all of the shoulder programing, the personality and off‑court programming, which we can then use on the mobile devices to give more to our fans.
And when we look at stepping outside our comfort zone, we have looked at other leagues.テつ We looked at competitors.テつ What are they doing that's very successful?テつ There is no denying some of the most successful events in the world have a common denominator:テつ team.テつ Whether it be World Cup or Ryder Cup.
The LPGA has started the International Crown.テつ Even Adam Silver at the NBA is looking at how he could create a team event inside his season.
So we engage with the sports consultancy group, same group that helped us with the rfp process for the finals, and we asked them to go to market and ask the market what they would be interested in investing in.
They talked to host nations and broadcasters.テつ They talked to sponsors.テつ These are sponsors that are not involved in the WTA.テつ We wanted feedback from those that are on the sidelines.テつ If we gave you something, would you investigate?テつ If so, what would it be?テつ And then various agencies.
What we tested, what new assets would you be interested in investing in and would you want?テつ A World Cup concept, and All‑Star event, or one‑day extravaganzas?テつ The market came back and said there was a 70% preference for the World Cup idea, a team event in one location.テつ That it was annual.
I think we went into to think Ryder Cup, every other year.テつ For business reasons, need it be annual.テつ That's probably your feedback.テつ And that it needed to be multiple years.テつ So you've got the runway.
And so the market recommendation, where the demand from sponsors, host nations, and fans, is a World Cup event with All‑Star elements over a five‑day period.
So we are going to go to market and see if the market is really there.テつ We haven't decided if we're going to do it.テつ I'll say it again:テつ We haven't decided if we will do it.
However, we believe we have a responsibility.テつ I think the demand is there.テつ Others are doing it.テつ If we don't do it, someone else is going to do it.テつ In fact, somebody is doing it.
I'm sure in 1970 and 1973 it was not comfortable breaking away from tradition.テつ And Billie often says, It's a shame that the players don't own the Grand Slams.テつ That was one of the biggest mistakes that we've made.
I don't want to make the same mistake.テつ I think that the WTA owning its own team event, if we think about Ryder, how successful that event is, that would be an amazing asset in the short and the long‑term for the WTA.
So as it relates to our responsibility for the legacy, we will go to market to test it, see if the money is there, and we will do this in an open and collaborative way with other members of the tennis family.
How are we going to do all this?テつ We need to bring some top talent on to the WTA team, so it is my great, great honor to welcome Mickey Lawler as the new WTA president.
(Applause.)
Mickey many know.テつ She's no stranger.テつ 27 years at Octagon building an exceptional business, working with athletes, working with tournaments, an agent.テつ She has been behind this Asia Pacific growth strategy that we have.テつ Served for 11 years on the WTA board.テつ I too came from the WTA board for the president.テつ That's worked out pretty well.テつ (Laughter.)
And I know I can speak on behalf of the board and on behalf of all of the staff that we are super excited to have you come from the boardroom and join us on the management team.テつ We can't wait to get started.テつ Congrats.
MICKEY LAWLER:テつ I'm so honored.テつ Thank you.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Thank you.テつ So at the end of the day, we are focused on winning.テつ We are going for it.テつ We are making tough choices.テつ What got the WTA to where we are today is not necessarily what is going to take us to the next level.
We will win, and we will take your WTA and make it stronger and more exciting inspirational for our fans.
What's that little girl thinking about as she's watching?テつ I think we've had an impact on her.テつ It's quite something.
I'm speaking of making impact, I'm closing it out by thanking a few people.テつ Let me begin by recognizing Melissa Pine.テつ Where did she go?テつ Sorry, sorry, sorry.
(Applause.)
Our vice president of Asia Pacific and tournament director.テつ The photo was perfect, because that Melissa's life.テつ Always on a stage, usually with men.テつ But that's what this WTA is about, empowering women; providing leadership opportunities for women.
And a year ago ‑ no not even year ago ‑ you raised your hand and said you would come out here to the brave frontier and represent us and grow our brand.
So I'm going to ask Billie to come on up.テつ She's going to give you a little gift.
BILLIE JEAN KING:テつ I am?テつ Thanks for the warning.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Yes.テつ Please.テつ I think it's only fitting that our founder gives this gift to Melissa.
(Applause.)
We thank all of Singapore, the thousands of great fans who have come to support us, and the many volunteers, officials, linespeople, that have worked around the clock.
And I'm going to ask Sara Clemente, our director of operations, to also come up and I am going to ask Crissy and Martina to present a memento for Sara.
(Applause.)
All right.テつ And the leader of the World Sport Group, Andrew really had the vision.テつ He worked tirelessly to make this happen.テつ We're forever indebted to you for helping us make history and make this the best finals in our history.
Thank you.テつ Tracy and Iva, you're up next.テつ If you wouldn't mind doing the honors for Andrew.
ANDREW GEORGIOU:テつ Thank you.
TRACY AUSTIN:テつ Well done.
(Applause.)
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ All right.テつ And we saved the best for last.テつ This is a true story.テつ But when Teck Yin came to St. Petersburg and presented the bid, this man is incredibly passionate and loves sport.テつ I can remember sitting in the boardroom getting quite emotional saying, God, please stop.テつ Please stop.テつ This can't be happening.
But, oh, we love you.テつ And thank you.テつ You and Lionel, going for that bike ride.テつ What would have happened if you never went for the bike ride when you said, We're going to bid for the finals?
We are so your partner in helping you achieve your mission.テつ We thank you for bringing us here to your great country.
So Mary and Marion will do the honors.
(Applause.)
LIM TEK YIN:テつ Thank you.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ I'm so short I don't have to worry about getting out of the photo.テつ (Laughter.)
All right.テつ Well, women's tennis is on top of the world.テつ I thank everyone, the board, the management team, all the legends, all our fans, all our sponsors, for making 2014 a very historic year.
We've come a long way, baby, and we're going to go a long way.
Thank you, everyone.
(Applause.)
PETE HOLTERMANN:テつ Stacey, thank you very much.テつ Andrew has stepped out to get our spectacular audience ready for the semifinals.テつ We will take a few questions from the media.テつ We'll have a few microphones walking around, so please raise your hand.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Can we do the photos first?
PETE HOLTERMANN:テつ Sure.テつ Absolutely.
(Photo op. )
PETE HOLTERMANN:テつ Without further ado, we will take some questions from the media.テつ I will ask if you have a question, please raise your hand.

Q.テつ It's interesting to hear about the WTA World Cup idea, but we also have the Fed Cup.テつ So how does these two actually work together?
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Well, Fed Cup is the Fed Cup.テつ This is different.テつ This is a five‑day team event in one location.テつ It is featuring ‑‑ it's an official event with ranking points and somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 to $5 million in prize money.
It's an official event with ranking points.テつ If it happens.テつ Yes, thank you.

Q.テつ Just wondering, it's been a few years without a title sponsor for the WTA.テつ How much of a necessity or priority that still is for the organization trying to get one?
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ In 2010, that was the last year we had a title sponsor.テつ We created a new commercial strategy.テつ Sony Ericsson came off our brand.テつ We did a new deal with them and they were our lead global partner, number one partner.テつ We got our brand back.テつ That was the commercial strategy going forward.
We got five new partners in 18 months when we did that.テつ We got more money in the aggregate than when we had Sony Ericsson.
So now, today, this is our brand, and we want to keep it as our brand.テつ We think we've grown up and it's strong enough that we don't need to sell it.テつ I might be on stage here one day, Ben, and someone has given us a lot of the money and I will have changed my tune.
But at the moment, the commercial strategy is to keep our brand and then have a lead global partner who would sit besides it as the number one partner in women's tennis.テつ They would have the net signs at our events.
We will either sell it globally or we will sell it regionally:テつ the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific.
All I can say today is that through this process we did get two new partners.テつ Xerox joined us last year, as did SAP.
As I sit here today, I do not have a lead global partner to announce.テつ I can confirm that we have conversations going on.テつ I believe in the strength of the product.テつ And we also want a premium brand to be aligned with.
We're going to get one.テつ Is it a priority?テつ Yes, but the WTA Finals are the financial priority for the organization, hence the importance for the WTA Finals to be so successful, hence the importance of creating another asset like the WTA Finals to give us real financial stability in another diversified revenue source for the organization.

Q.テつ With respect to the fan engagement initiative, first of all, what other models, what other sports, are you kind of looking at in terms of as a model to learn how to boost the WTA?テつ And secondly, how will you get the top players in particular on board with some of these initiatives?テつ They obviously do a lot already, and I could imagine there would be pushback.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ We've had great conversations with our athletes, both from our top players to those who the are the rising stars.テつ I think the council is supportive of the direction forward.
They understand the rationale behind it.テつ In 2015, a way forward will be to test different programs.テつ I think the athletes have told us if we're going to do those things, they have to be well organized.テつ So that's our commitment to them.
And we have it test and try new things.テつ Ultimately, we are building this fan engagement opportunity for the future.
So there may be a few players where that are already in their rhythm and that's how they prepare.テつ That's going to be okay.テつ But we will standardize it and build these best practices, and through education and cultural changes we're going to get there.
But generally players have been great in supporting the ideas we have.

Q.テつ And the models?
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ We've looked at Rugby 7s for Asia.テつ Obviously the WTA Finals is a model that we look at; UEFA Champions League in Europe; we look at the NBA and the NFL as some role models.
But the bottom line is there is some real fundamentals, and we're going to invest more in our rookie program.テつ We have a great rookie program now, but we want to teach these young ones when they're 14, 15, 16, 17, before they even become Genie Bouchard or Sloane Stephens or Madison Keys, that this is our vision:テつ sport entertainment.
You guys are inspirational entertainers, and there is more to just hitting forehands and backhands.テつ So when you come on court, you wave.テつ When you lose, you sign autographs.テつ You got the fans that are just dying to embrace, and sometimes our athletes march off.
Not all of them.テつ Some are giving.テつ I want to want to teach the athletes that this is the way we do it.テつ And, again, it's about the fans.テつ So that is a small example.
This is a real game changer.テつ Ready?テつ When the ball goes into the crowd, the fan can keep it.テつ Why we don't do it doesn't make any sense.テつ So we're doing that here at the finals.
At our meetings with the tournament here in Singapore they're open to it, so we're going to test that.
And the other thing in teaching athletes, it's not just about the fans who are in venue.テつ It's the fans that are watching global.テつ There are millions of them.
You saw the Twitter mirror courtside.テつ Andy has got the athletes doing their tweets right or court immediately.
And same for broadcast.テつ We've got 62 licensees who want to talk to them.テつ They talk to the television for the host, but the world is waiting.
So the athletes will change their post‑match and they'll go right to a mixed season to do interviews, to do social, right out of gate, so we can instantaneously share how they're feeling about their match.テつ It's also a nice way to build the rising stars.
So those just a couple examples.

Q.テつ WTA brought three new tournaments to China this season, so we sort of have China swing five weeks in a row this year.テつ Just wondering, are you happy are you happy with the development that has been building from the first year in 2004 ‑ we have China Open and Quanzhou tournament ‑ to now, especially for the two premiers.テつ The new Wuhan Open, according to the reports they attract over 80,000 audience in one week.テつ But for China Open the number went down by 7% compared to last year.テつ Just wondering your thoughts.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ I think the work that the China Open has done‑‑ it's the 11th year, and I was looking ‑‑ while I was there I was looking at the ten‑year anniversary.テつ They have come so far.テつ That event, our equal prize money event, is the crown jewel of China.
I haven't looked at the attendance.テつ We had some bad weather.テつ It rained a lot.テつ That can affect the attendance going down.テつ I think we are going to have a little change with Li Na not playing.テつ We have to acknowledge that.
I think the good news, on our broadcast we've only had a dip of 8% with Li NA retiring this year.テつ Not too bad as we make this course correction.
So the China Open is doing a phenomenal.テつ We cannot be more excited and pleased with what Wuhan did. テつI never have athletes or coaches come up to me and say, Stacey, that event was amazing.テつ Never.テつ It's the reverse.テつ This event didn't do this and this event didn't do that.
Not one complaint and full of praise.テつ It looked amazing on television.テつ They're building another stadium.テつ Wuhan got it right.テつ We're super excited.
Tiengen a new event.テつ If we could take those stadiums and put them elsewhere in the world...テつ they are showcasing women's tennis at that premium compelling alignment, as our mission says.
So it's great.テつ And then you take the WTA 125s, we have 7,000 people coming to the finals for players who are ranked 50 to 100 in the world; 7000 in in another market and we would be ringing the bell.
So there is a massive opportunity not only for player jobs, development opportunities, but promotional opportunities in cities in China where we can't take a premier or an international.

Q.テつ I notice that the prize money here is identical to the (indiscernible) last year finals.テつ I think it was this year, last year, and years before.
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ It's been equal since Doha.

Q.テつ That a deliberate strategy for your part?
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Our equal prize money strategy is where we have the same product on the court, we want to have equal prize money.テつ We have it at our four premier mandatories:テつ Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Beijing.テつ We have it at the WTA Finals.テつ And even our Dubai tournament where it's not equal product, but they have been paying equal prize money for many years.
So that's a strategy.テつ That's a principle.テつ It's our goal.テつ For the finals we've had equal prize money since 2008.テつ $6.5 million.
It's interesting, our five majors, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, and now the BNP Paribas WTA Finals, those five events are almost 50% of the WTA's total prize money.テつ Those are our majors.
So I talked earlier, and we want the athletes ‑‑ I dream of winning a Grand Slam.テつ I dream of winning the WTA Finals.テつ I want to win Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Beijing.テつ They matter. テつThey have the highest amount of ranking points on the WTA and the highest amount of prize money on the WTA.
They are driving the WTA in its value, and the work that they're doing in Indian Wells is the gold standard.
Miami is getting ready to do more capital expansion.テつ Madrid has it.テつ And China, they have built facilities that are as good or better than a Grand Slam.

Q.テつ I don't like comparing to the ATP, but with respect to the fan engagement, the guys have the Masters tournaments, they have these Golden Masters Slams, all this sort of stuff that seems to be a pretty good marketing tool.テつ Has there ever been a thought to kind of rebrand the way that the WTA tournaments are categorized?
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ We are.テつ It will a work project in 2015 with Highlight.テつ We'll try to have that work project done by the US Open next year so we'll be ready for the 2016 schedule.
Before we did the Roadmap we had Tier 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.テつ When we started to categorize, the Tier 3s, now known as the internationals, they didn't want to be known as a Tier 3.テつ Going market to a sponsor, Hey I'm a WTA Tier 3.テつ Doesn't sound like you're the big leagues.
Going is as WTA international, that sounds like that's a meaningful event.テつ And it is.
So that's where we landed on the internationals.テつ I think that works quite well for them.
Then we tried rubies and medals and flowers and all sorts of branding experts came along.テつ At the end of the day, the Roadmap took a lot of change.テつ Our Tier 2s were modified significantly, and they didn't want to be left out of the pack.
So we said, Everybody will be a premier event.テつ So we had premiers and internationals.テつ Purple and green.テつ Simple.
The intent was never to call Indian Wells a premier mandatory.テつ It's a premier equal prize money event with $6 million in prize money.
Premier 5s, it's just a premier event, $2.5 million featuring seven or eight of the top 10 players.
As a tournament director, I would never say I'm a 5.テつ I would say, Here is my player field; here is my prize money.テつ That's what matters.テつ Fans don't care.
So we thought premier would work.テつ The only reason we have this mandatory 5 and 7 nonsense is we needed it for the rule book.
Unfortunately, it has seeped into our vernacular and we've got to change it.テつ So we're going to work on it.

Q.テつ One other question about TV:テつ With the production of all of the main draw matches being a goal, once they're produced, are we looking at Tennis TV being the distribution platform outside of television, or how does that stuff reach the fans?
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Sure.テつ So in 2015, once we finalize our business deal and get the tournaments all rolled up, we'll then work on how we're packaging and selling and how we'll distribute them.テつ Massive opportunity though for us from linear TV, terrestrial to pay channels.テつ Those pay channels have digital channels.
Star Hub, you know, we're all watching in the Marina Bay Sands or here.テつ You can watch it mobile.テつ Tennis Channel you can watch on the screen or everywhere on the mobile devices.
So there is that combination.テつ Tennis TV for digital streaming or some form of subscription will be most likely in the strategy.
We think the big opportunity, particularly in the United States right now is over the top.テつ We all think there will be a Netflix Sports.テつ So having a WTA app in these smart TVs where maybe you can watch the early rounds of an international or get highlights or shoulder programming, the personality stuff.
So we see OTT as also being a big one.テつ And it being distributed across all platforms so that fans with watch whatever they want whenever they want.
CHRIS EVERT:テつ Can I say something real quickly?テつ I'm not press, today.テつ You know me, I just like to be the center of attention. (Laughing.)
I want to thank two people.テつ First of all, hopefully on behalf of the legends I would like to thank ‑‑ my heartfelt thank you to Billie Jean for starting this and having the vision in '73.
If you were in golf, we wouldn't be here today.テつ So I thank God every day that you were a tennis player.テつ Honestly, you know.テつ That's why women's tennis is No. 1, because of Billie Jean King.テつ Thank you for being our mentor and our inspiration.
Also, I want to thank Stacey, because I believe this is the first time that a CEO of the WTA has invited all of us, the legends, future stars, really included all of us and invited us.テつ We're seeing all of women's tennis, not just the current stars.
I just feel so honored that you asked us all to come.テつ I just want to tell you I really appreciate it.テつ I think everybody else does too.
(Applause).
STACEY ALLASTER:テつ Thank you.テつ Little story.テつ I was having dinner with Crissy and Martina.テつ That didn't happen often.テつ They're busy.テつ I was sitting around with my feet up, and I remember distinctly.テつ It was Australian Open two years ago.テつ You said to me, Stacey, we love the WTA, and when you need us, you call.
And when I started these WTA Finals and the legends, you guys were first up.テつ You were there.テつ All of you of been there and you're always there for us.テつ Mary has been it many WTA Finals with me.テつ Trace has been doing world feed for us, hours and hours.
We are so fortunate, past, present, future loving women's tennis, still loving it and still engaged.テつ So we thank you for everything you're doing to continue to grow our tour.テつ Thank you.
PETE HOLTERMANN:テつ I think that's a perfect ending spot.テつ Thank you everybody for coming out.テつ As I said, the tennis is underway in the stadium, so please enjoy a great day of semifinals here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297