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SONY ERICSSON WTA TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT
July 6, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to this important Sony Ericsson WTA announcement.
With us today we have Larry Scott, chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour; Mary Pierce, two-time Grand Slam champion; Mehmet Atalay, general director for youth and sport Turkey; Ergul Gungor, deputy governor, Istanbul; Azmi Kumova, president of the Turkish Tennis Federation; Cosjun Erhiner, board member and general manager of the Istanbul Cup; Cahit Yavuz, board member and media director of the Istanbul Cup; and Stacey Allaster, president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
LARRY SCOTT: Good morning. Thank you all for being here. It's nice to be with so many of you so soon after we had a chance to meet with the media during my recent visit during to Istanbul during the Istanbul Cup.
This is an historic day for women's tennis with the very exciting announcement that the Sony Ericsson championships will be coming to Istanbul from 2011 to 2013. There are many changes happening in the world of tennis. Women's tennis is the most global sport in the world. The fact that we'll be able to bring our most prestigious championships to the country that is the bridge between Europe and Asia is a very important symbol for the global of women's tennis today.
Istanbul has proven itself as a true world sports capital with the successful hosting of the 2005 Champion's League final, the successful running of Formula One, and I know several other world sports championships have been awarded to Istanbul.
So for tennis, we are very, very proud to bring our end-of-year World Championships to Istanbul, which has proven itself to be a great global showcase for sports.
The Sony Ericsson championships has recently been in Los Angeles. Last year and this year it will be in Madrid. From 2008 through 2010 we'll be playing in the Middle East in Doha. And the fact that we can bring The Championships to Istanbul as the bridge between Europe and Asia has a lot of significance as women's tennis continues to expand internationally.
In this year of equality in tennis where for the first time women will be paid the same as men at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, we're particularly pleased thanks to the tremendous support of all the parties from Turkey that have been involved in bringing The Championships to Istanbul, that we will be able to pay women equal prize money to the men's end-of-year championship.
This will be a great catalyst for the further development of not only women's tennis but women in the world of sports. We think it sends a very positive signal for women the world over beyond the realm of sports.
The lasting effect of the Sony Ericsson Championships coming to Istanbul will be significant. We're very excited that we'll be playing in a brand-new state-of-the-art, 10,000-seat stadium being built for the event. We also think this event will have a very positive lasting effect in terms of the excitement and interest in tennis throughout Turkey.
Lastly, I want to thank all the people that have been involved to put together this successful bid for The Championships. During my visit, I was very impressed with the amount of support from all the different levels of government, particularly from the parliament, which we very much appreciate, as well as the City of Istanbul and the very strong support of Garanti-Koza as the promotors who have done an excellent job in only three years of establishing a successful Istanbul Cup.
If it hadn't been for all of this support from the private sector as well as public sector, this wouldn't have been possible after only three years of hosting the Istanbul Cup. But our awarding of The Championships to Istanbul is really a testament to the amazing support from all the different entities. It's one of the things that gives us tremendous confidence that this event will be a great success.
THE MODERATOR: Now two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce.
MARY PIERCE: Good morning, everybody. It's an honor and a privilege for me to be sitting at this table here this morning. Just this morning, getting to meet some of you already, I can really feel your excitement, your passion for tennis and for this event. I'm very excited. I'm sure it's going to be a great success.
So on behalf of the players and the Player Council, we are very excited that the Sony Ericsson Championships is going to Istanbul in 2011 and 13. We're very excited to take our very best event, the very best of women's tennis, to great cities around the world like Istanbul.
I know that the players who have played in Istanbul Cup thus far have really enjoyed the event, from Maria Sharapova to Venus Williams to Elena Dementieva and also many others.
I'd like to read a quote from Venus. She would have loved to be here this morning, but as you all know she's scheduled to play today. This is what Venus said:
"Istanbul is an incredible city that has really embraced women's professional tennis. I am really looking forward to our most prestigious event going to Istanbul and hope to be competing there when it does."
I just want to thank you all, from the government and the Istanbul Cup, who have made this day possible. I'm very excited. Hopefully I'd love to play. Hopefully I'll be still playing then and be able to qualify to play there.
I have something to give to Mehmet Atalay. It's a racquet signed by Maria Sharapova. She would have loved to have been here but she's not in London.
THE MODERATOR: And now the general director for youth and sport in Turkey, Mehmet Atalay.
MEHMET ATALAY: I'd like to thank you all. Today is one of the most important days for Turkish tennis. Sony Ericsson Championships is the most important day for Turkish tennis. We have other successful events like Istanbul Cup, but today is totally different.
Today I also believe is very important for Sony Ericsson itself. I believe by having this championship in Istanbul, we will show how the Turkish people are excited and feel the energy, and it will show the potential we have for years.
I don't want to take your time, so that's why I won't give any names. But there are lots of people working from the government side and the Federation side that have given their energy. There's a team present. We will show our energy with this kind of event.
Three years ago, Turkish people started to learn tennis with the Istanbul Cup. The participation of Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova was very acceptable and very important for us. I thank the group of people who love tennis.
Now we have a major tennis event, the Sony Ericsson Championships in Istanbul. We give our best to that tournament, 2011 to 2013, we will give our best to that event. My hope is that we will keep this event forever. The only thing I'm very sad about is that, Mary Pierce, you haven't competed in Istanbul. We should have had this event in Istanbul years ago.
In 2011, there are lots of majors sports in Istanbul. We will end the year with the Sony Ericsson Championships. The best one will be the tennis championships in Istanbul.
I would like to thank Larry Scott. By having a decision like this, you encourage five million sports players in Istanbul. By giving this event to Istanbul, we will be able to provide the energy between east and west, as the symbol of Istanbul. So I welcome you all. Many thanks.
THE MODERATOR: Now the deputy governor of Istanbul, Mr. Ergul Gungor.
ERGUL GUNGOR: I am very happy to sit with you all. We made lots of measures in Istanbul the last couple years. We organized this event in five years, like Formula One, like the MotoGP in Istanbul and the Champions League final in Istanbul. We will host the 2009 UEFA Cup in Istanbul.
We support the Istanbul Cup for three years. We are very happy about the situation of the Istanbul Cup. Istanbul is one of the cultural capital cities of European nations in 2010. Istanbul is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world and connects east and west. There are over 15 million people in Istanbul. It's a major city.
Besides these sporting events, we have many arts and cultural festivals. After 2010, we start in 2011, it will give us great excitement to have something like the Sony Ericsson Championships in Istanbul. There are lots of potential to show Turkish people the major tennis players in Turkey and welcome them all.
We will give our best to place this tournament in Istanbul with all parts of the organization.
This is a very important moment to introduce Istanbul to the world by having this event. I declare that I will give all support to this organization during those years. Lastly, I will give all our best support to the team who will be in charge of that organization.
THE MODERATOR: Now the president of the Turkish tennis Federation, Mr. Azmi Kumova.
AZMI KUMOVA: As the Turkish tennis Federation chairman, I'm very happy to be here with you all to represent Turkey by having The Championships in Istanbul. Tennis in Turkey is developing rapidly, with the numbers of professional tennis players and international tournaments in Turkey. Istanbul Cup has spread the popularity of Turkish tennis in the last three years.
After the Istanbul Cup, by having the Sony Ericsson Championships, I believe it will give lots of excitement to Turkish tennis. Turkey is developing very quickly. Sony Ericsson Championships is a unique opportunity to continue to represent Turkey to the world. As the chairman of the Turkish Tennis Federation, I would like to thank you, the WTA, Larry Scott, the government of Turkey, the organizers of Garanti-Koza and the other people involved in the business.
I would like to thank you all.
THE MODERATOR: Now board member and general manager of the Istanbul Cup, Mr. Cosjun Erhiner.
COSJUN ERHINER: I welcome you all.
Turkish tennis and women's tennis in world, we are -- a new baby is coming by having Istanbul Cup for three years, now we have Sony Ericsson Championships. We know it's a very important tennis event in the world. It will create lots of opportunities for the Turkish kids, Turkish tennis players all over the world.
Most importantly by having the Sony Ericsson Championships, we will build a new facility with 10,000 capacity in a very convenient place with over 20 courts inside.
We will finish the entire project in two years, which is acceptable to WTA standards. Most importantly the foundation that we build in Istanbul, the Tennis Scholarship Foundation, which will create opportunities for tennis players in Turkey to compete in Wimbledon and other major tennis events.
I would like to thank you all for coming here and listening to us.
THE MODERATOR: Now board member and media director of the Istanbul Cup, Mr. Cahit Yavuz.
CAHIT YAVUZ: I thank you all. One of the most important goals for us was to create this natural tennis beauty to the world. I believe while sitting at this table, I hear many people talk about Istanbul and its beauty. At the end, I think we managed one of our goals.
Another one is to manage and play the Sony Ericsson Championships in Istanbul as a successful event on the Sony Ericsson Tour calendar.
Thank you, all.
THE MODERATOR: Now president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Stacey Allaster.
STACEY ALLASTER: Good morning. Listening to everyone has certainly been very energizing. As you dream, we're dreaming with you.
This is a tremendous day for women's tennis, to have the partnership of the Turkish government to promote and grow the sport of tennis in your country. Thank you so, so much, on behalf of all young girls who are dreaming to be tennis players, and on behalf of the existing players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
As you have pledged your support to us, we pledge our support to you. Today is the beginning of our partnership to build tennis in Istanbul. We'll have the great success of working with the Istanbul Cup from 2008 through 2010. We'll be so excited to work with you to build a world class facility that you'll all be proud of for Turkey, like you see here at Wimbledon.
And, more important than buildings, what you believe in is equality for women. The support that has been shown by the Turkish government will mean that we can provide equal prize money to our athletes, which has been our dream for so long. Here at Wimbledon we celebrate equal prize money. We thank you for sharing in our dream of continuing for the advancement of women.
Lastly, to Mehmet, Azmi, it's our goal that one day there will be your own Mary Pierce sitting at your table. I think that is our collective goal of the Sony Ericsson Championships Istanbul. We look forward to working with you to have more young girls playing our sport and perhaps one day have your own Mary Pierce.
MEHMET ATALAY: Today is one of the days that one of the dreams we dreamed come true. I would like to put a name to this meeting, which is: From Dream to Reality.
THE MODERATOR: We have a video and then we will take questions from the media.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll take any questions from the media.
Q. Could you please explain the draw to this decision being taken, how was the decision in choosing Istanbul as the site?
LARRY SCOTT: Well, we go through an open bidding process, like a lot of the other sports in the world from the Olympic Games on down.
Given the rising popularity and value of women's tennis today, we had an unprecedented number of cities that bid for The Championships this time. The first stage of the process was then to narrow it down to four finalist cities representing several different continents.
We had Monterrey in Mexico, Bangalore in India, Doha in Qatar, and Istanbul. That was the first stage of the process.
Then we go through a consultive process, including the players. We have a player board, which is led by Mary Pierce, including Venus Williams and seven players in total that we very much involve and get their feedback.
Based on the success of the Istanbul Cup over the last three years, there was very, very strong support from the players, particularly top players in the world that have been there, like Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams. They were very positive and gave a strong endorsement for Istanbul.
As well, from our television partners, sponsors, obviously the business side. There's the sports side and business side. Being the bridge between Europe and Asia was something very, very appealing to tennis as a global sport with a very strong base in Europe.
It got a lot of support, therefore, from the technical side in reviewing the details of the bid, also from the business side. From a sport's standpoint, one of the things that was most attractive to us is the very young population in Turkey, the big population, and a chance for the sport to really break new ground, expose the sport at the highest level to new populations, and inspire young people throughout Turkey and Europe and Asia generally to follow tennis.
We think that this step of having the Sony Ericsson Championships in Turkey will do a lot for the global popularity of the sport, particularly amongst younger generations.
Q. Why did you choose Istanbul? What is the main differences to the others?
LARRY SCOTT: Well, hopefully I answered some of it in the prior answer.
But I think it's what it can do really for the sport long-term to be in a country that's growing so fast and that will make the investment in the facility to really stage the event at the higher standard.
We felt that the impact on the popularity of the sport by playing in Istanbul, both in Turkey and more broadly throughout Europe and Asia, will be significant on the one hand. We also believe from the visit, seeing what will be built in terms of a new facility, the hospitality that can be provided for our guests from around the world, for the players, we also think we have a chance to elevate the stature and prestige of The Championships.
We think all the ingredients are in place from the government support to the technical expertise of the promotors to the level of hospitality that can be provided. It's our goal to continue to elevate the prestige and status of tennis' most elite sporting event, and we think Istanbul will be able to take the event at the level it's at and even raise it to another level in terms of its global popularity and status.
Q. Mary, could you please summarize the feedback you got from the players. And Mr. Atalay, after having the Sony Ericsson Championships from Istanbul, do you have any chance to create this event in later years?
MARY PIERCE: That's a great question. Being a part of the Player Council now for the last two years, I believe it is, it's been very exciting for me, first of all, because of where the tour is and where the tour wants to go. I share the same vision and I'm very excited about the direction it's going in.
We have meetings regularly in the year. The tour comes to us, Larry, and the other members, Stacey, with different issues to talk about that are happening on the tour. We are presented concerning The Championships, the Sony Ericsson Championships representative candidates after the bids have happened.
Amongst us, the players, we talk about it and then we ask questions to the tour and the player board reps. I think what's important for us as players, what we're looking for, are many things, of course. We love to go to tournaments that we enjoy being there in the city. So obviously that's important for us. Where we're going to be staying is important for us.
It's important for us to be able to sleep well, to have good food so we can have the energy to play good matches. And obviously the environment we're going to be in, that we feel safe, that it's a place that we can play in. And tennis, how it's accepted from the people, the fans.
We definitely see and feel the passion and the love for tennis, and we're going to have a great event in Istanbul. Also the feedback from the Istanbul Cup has helped, as well. We're very excited and we're sure it's going to be a great event.
MEHMET ATALAY: We have four more years on our hands, and we believe that we will give lots of importance to improve tennis day to day. Also we start some workings to build tennis courts all over Turkey, new facilities, world class standard facilities. We will build more.
There are lots of people who will give their energy to tennis in Turkey. We don't make this tournament just as a sporting event. We want that all the young population in Istanbul and Turkey play sport. And new challengers that come from Istanbul will produce new Nadals and new Federers to the world of tennis, new Mary Pierces and Maria Sharapovas.
I believe that Mr. Larry Scott and his team will be happy about the condition of Istanbul that we will have in later years. This entire project will create huge opportunities for the Turkish tennis players, for Turkish sport. There's an expression in Turkish. Hitting one bird with one stone, we think hitting five birds with one stone.
Thank you very much.
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