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January 27, 2018

Jayne Hrdlicka

Rod Laver

Byung Yun Park

Craig Tiley

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

SHURA TAFT: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Shura Taft. You may have seen, I've proudly had an association with Kia over the years, being part of the Open Drive Program. I also own a red Kia Sportage. So I actually am part of the family.

To our guests from Kia Motors Corporation and Kia Motors Australia, Tennis Australia, members of the media, I'd like to formally welcome you to this special event here at the Australian Open today.

I'd like to welcome to the stage some very special guests, first of whom is Tennis Australia president and chair, Ms. Jayne Hrdlicka. The next person up you would have seen in his younger years on that video there, here he is, Australian Open tournament director, Mr. Craig Tiley. The executive vice president of Kia Motors Corporation, Mr. Byung Yun Park. And Australian tennis legend, his name is on the arena, Mr. Rod Laver. He did say he didn't have his accreditation on him. I thought it would be okay for us to know who he was when he walked in the room.

I'd like to invite Tennis Australia president and chair, Jayne Hrdlicka, to say a few words.

JAYNE HRDLICKA: This is a big day for Tennis Australia, a big day for Kia Motors.

For the last 17 years, Kia Motors has been an important partner of the Australian Open. I'm not sure we would have been able to achieve all that we have without their support and commitment to us continuing to innovate and lift the bar with respect to our Grand Slam. We're very honored today to be announcing that we've just signed another five-year agreement with Kia.

So thank you, Mr. Park, and thank you to the Kia team for continuing to believe in our partnership. It has taken us both through a period of extraordinary growth. It has taken us both through a period of significant innovation. We look forward to the continued partnership, the continued sense of family, and the continued commitment to innovation.

As you would expect, we're not done. We expect to continue to set the standard for what great sporting events look like around the world. We enjoy today a position in the top 10 sporting events globally, and we continue to look for ways to make our event an even better, more interesting, engaging place for both our fans as well as our players. The partnership enables us to do exactly that.

We are very proud of the achievements of your extraordinary young player, Hyeon Chung. He has, I'm sure for you, brought the energy and passion of tennis into every home in Korea, as you all were riveted by his performance. We expect to see him here in grand final positions over many years to come. We were all very saddened to see his injuries last night prevent him from an extraordinary match. We look forward to his continued success.

Your inspiration for young Korean players is quite evident in his performance over the last two weeks. So thank you. We look forward to the continued spirit of partnership and commitment going forward.

SHURA TAFT: Thank you very much, Jayne.

I'd like now to invite Mr. Park to address the room for a special announcement.

BYUNG YUN PARK: Thanks for the speech, Ms. Hrdlicka. Thank you, everyone, for joining us here today.

On behalf of the global Kia Motors family, I am truly happy to be a part of this ceremony announcing the start of a new era for Kia and the Australian Open.

It has been an incredible 17-year journey for us, and the longest running sponsor of the Australian Open. Once again, Kia is excited to take part in the world's most thrilling Grand Slam event for another five years.

I want to thank everyone at Tennis Australia, President Ms. Jayne Hrdlicka, and CEO and tournament director, Mr. Craig Tiley, and all the tournament organizing staff for their hard effort in providing unforgettable experience every year.

Of course, my sincere thanks go to all the passionate fans. Without them, the Australian Open would not be where it is today. Looking to the future, I am confident that the sponsorship partnership between Kia and Tennis Australia, with today's extension, will result in an even greater fan experience at the Australian Open.

We appreciate all of you taking the time to be a part of today's milestone announcement, and thank you for your continued support. Thank you very much.

SHURA TAFT: Craig, if you'd like to respond.

CRAIG TILEY: Thank you, Mr. Park. We're delighted to be extending this wonderful partnership and friendship and loyal journey that we've been on. It's also a privilege to be sitting up here with the great Rod Laver, who mentioned to us earlier is very excited, as well, about the fact that not only have we had a 17-year relationship, but we've also made a decision to continue for another five years. In today's world it's not that often that you have such a privilege to be such a loyal partner be a part of your family.

We did decide a few years ago to become the Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific. With that comes a responsibility. That responsibility is to ensure the development, the promotion, and the growth of our beautiful sport in the region.

I think this year, with 178 players out of the 560 from our region, it's a testament to that position, the most number of players from the Asia Pacific region ever in the history of the Australian Open draw. Then, of course, capped off by the wonderful performance of Hyeon Chung last night.

Seeing him this morning, he was in pain physically, but he was in joy mentally for having that performance going all the way to the semifinals. If that's an indication of the future, we know we made the right decision in being partners with Kia.

Not too sure if you're aware, for those in the room, each year for two-and-a-half weeks we travel over 200,000 kilometers, in 130 cars this year with over 200 drivers. We never had a problem with a Kia car. It is the best car on the planet. It's the best fleet of cars. I can tell you also, as Shura, as a proud driver of a Kia Carnival, with a large family, it's perfect. We're very happy to be able to have this friendship and this partnership.

So we thank you for making this possible, and for visiting us here, and showing your hand in extension in this partnership. Thank you.

BYUNG YUN PARK: Thank you.

SHURA TAFT: Thank you very much, Craig.

I'd like to invite the man we've spoken about a number of times, synonymous with the Australian Open, as Kia is, the last 17 years. I'd invite Rod Laver to say a few words, please.

ROD LAVER: Mr. Park, it's wonderful to listen to you extending the contract for another five years from your already 17 years with the Australian Championship. It's amazing how much a sponsorship like Kia has done. When you look at the players, you look at South Korean players now starting to come along, Chung, I see a great future in his life.

He played that wonderful match with Djokovic. I'm sure Djokovic is thinking, Who is this? It's great with Craig and Jayne running tennis down here in Melbourne.

The facilities, yes, the big stadium has been magnificent for all of Melbourne. But just seeing all the amenities that are in place now. Every time I've come for the last six or seven years, every year I almost find, How do I get into this place? There's changes all the time.

Jayne has told me there's going to be some more changes here in the next few years. But it's an honor to be here for the signing of the extended contract. I congratulate you.

BYUNG YUN PARK: Thank you. Thank you.

SHURA TAFT: Thank you very much, Rod.

Craig, I'm going to invite you and Mr. Park, as you do in any beautiful marriage of two companies or people, to make it official, to sign. We're going to do that now on the iPad.

(Signing completed.)

SHURA TAFT: If I could ask all four of you, come over to the wonderful trophies here and have a photo. Thank you.

(Photo opportunity.)

SHURA TAFT: There's one last thing before we finish. We have one more person who would like to speak. Could I ask everyone to direct their attention to the screens once more.

(Video played of Rafael Nadal.)

SHURA TAFT: That concludes the official proceedings. On behalf of Kia Motors Corporation and Tennis Australia, I'd like to thank you all for being here for such a momentous occasion. We look forward to two fantastic finals tonight and tomorrow night to cap off what has been an incredible 2018.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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