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August 23, 2003

Anne Worcester


Q. Can you give us a general comment on the week, what you thought was successful.

ANNE WORCESTER: Wow, that's a loaded question.

Q. No, it's not.

ANNE WORCESTER: I could talk about that for days. You know, overall, it was a great week of very high-quality tennis on the court. You know, I saw some of the best matches I've seen in a long, long time. Early rounds on, you know. I think it was a successful week in terms of entertainment for the fans. We had more going on off the court than ever before. We added more food, more shopping, even better music, rock-claiming walls, relaxation stations, massage chairs, complementary manicures and make-overs, courtesy of Avon. We added a lot more this year to appeal to more than just the casual tennis fan, and we got a lot of positive feedback about that. I think Mother Nature was good to us. Heat is not a pleasant -- extreme heat is not the most pleasant way to watch tennis, but if we could have nine days like today, that would be even more ideal. So I would say in terms of having very high level of tennis all week, competitive tennis, very popular entertainment, opportunities for fans, a lot of good luck with no rain after the monsoon summer we had, and fourth, probably foremost, having a brand-new defending champion in Jennifer Capriati after a 19-month drought for her is pretty dreamy for a tournament. It's a great story. Her victory here today will put the Pilot Pen and New Haven in headlines around the world tomorrow morning. Doesn't get much better than that.

Q. What's the emotion, must be like planning a wedding every single year, year after year? What is the emotion when it's all said and done, everything went pretty much the way you would have liked it to go?

MIKE DAVIES: Well, I think in a lot of ways, these tennis tournaments, for the staff and the people who work at them, is a huge high going into these events. They work very long hours, under stressful conditions, with constantly changing scenarios as far as potential rain, heat, defaults, switches in time of the final being played from 1 to 12, various aspects that one has to face. The whole staff has been building up for this. So when you get to the end of it, there's obviously a big sigh. A lot of times people get very sort of let down and feel depressed because, I mean, it's all over. It's a strange kind of feeling. Within the first 24, 36 hours, "Boy, that went like a hurricane coming in, and now we have 51 weeks to work on it and start all over again." You know, I've told people who told me that they felt this way that it's a normal reaction. The first time I was ever involved in these things, in actual tournaments, et cetera, I had the same kind of feelings. I'm a little more immune to it now. It's a natural thing when they work so hard to try to put on the best show that they can, to come down from that and start again with 51 weeks. I wanted to just mention what we got here. I think it's something that we really are trying to do. That is, we're trying to put on more entertainment and more things for people to do for a day out, for an afternoon out, for an evening out. We want to constantly be trying to do that. The tennis fan is one side, but we have to try and draw from people who are not just tennis fans, who can go out for a session, for an evening, come out here, do some shopping, have things to do, have something to eat, and watch great tennis, world-class tennis. If you're Wimbledon or the US Open, it's a little different. But with most of the tournaments in the world, I think this is something more and more they're going to have to do. We're after the entertainment. We're competing with every entertainment out there. We're competing with movies, with television, with all the other sports. We're competing for the sponsorship and for the public to come to see us. So we have to keep offering it. A lot of times, especially when you bring children out, you have a family kind of thing, the kids don't want to sit for two hours and watch a tennis match, you have to have things for them to do. We have to try to provide that, keep more of that for this community and for most communities. To they have to do it at the All England Club, Wimbledon? No, sold out every day. As far as we're concerned, we have to do that. Tennis will probably have to do it, especially in the United States, because there's so much competition out there.

Q. Did you hear of any fans who arrived late today because they didn't know about the time change?

MIKE DAVIES: I heard we had a few complaints. I think they were very minimum. Thanks to you guys, the word we got out to the public, I really think we did a good job on getting that message out. I think there were very few.

ANNE WORCESTER: Those fans will be offered complementary tickets for next year's final.

Q. How disappointing was it to have the last two matches end without being played out? Obviously, it's something you have no control over.

ANNE WORCESTER: Well, if it has to be a default, you'd rather have -- I would rather have defaults like we had, after a set and a half of very high-quality tennis in both cases. You know, as I said to Jennifer, it wasn't like you were trailing and then Mauresmo retired. You went out there and played your heart out for the first set and a half. You know, she didn't really even know that Mauresmo had anything wrong. Same with Lindsay, until the end of the first set. I think Jennifer leaves here really with the same feeling that we have, that she deserved to win this tournament. Lindsay said it out on the court. You know, she goes into the US Open now with the highest level of confidence. You know, she's broken the drought. She's gotten the monkey wrench off her back. Doesn't have to have the media asking her about her 19-month drought. I just reminded her that the Pilot Pen is a good luck charm because Steffi Graf came into this tournament with a 17-month drought in 1988. Steffi entered Wednesday, the day before the wildcard deadline. That's why the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, will be in the headlines around the world tomorrow morning.

Q. You made a comment with Lindsay's character, the way she carries herself. Are you even more impressed with her now, seeing the way she handled this today?

ANNE WORCESTER: Yes, yes. Lindsay is one of those people who I keep learning about. Just when I think I know her, she surprises me. I've never seen her emotional like that. I've never seen her cry. She was really overwhelmed when our fans gave her a standing ovation after she could not finish the match. For her then to get out there and in her remarks apologize twice for letting them down, then take photos with every dignitary on the court, then sign a hundred autographs, you just don't see that in professional sport today. She is a class act, she really is.

MIKE DAVIES: I haven't seen anybody get a standing ovation like that for I can't remember when. It was terrific.

ANNE WORCESTER: Again, it wasn't the beginning of the match. It was after a great week of tennis. It was after a great first set. You know, under different circumstances, maybe the situation would have been different.

Q. Considering the uncertainty in the field you had to face for a long time, considering the heat and all the other aspects, are you satisfied with 80,000? Are you disappointed with 80,000? How do you look at the attendance numbers for the week?

ANNE WORCESTER: You know, I'm not disappointed in anything at all. I think this is the best tournament we've had in six years.

Q. Why?

ANNE WORCESTER: It's all about quality, not quantity. As I've always said to you guys, my personal litmus test is to hear more and more of, "I'm not really a tennis fan. I don't really play tennis. Don't really follow tennis. But I love going to the Pilot Pen." Every time I went on the upper site, people I've never seen before in my life really just overwhelmingly positive and overwhelmingly complimentary. Even if someone wants to share a constructive criticism, they do it in the nicest way. I just was looking at our numbers. What's interesting is we're 13% down in the overall attendance number, but we did fine with our series. We did well with sponsorship. You saw our back wall. We have new sponsors this year. We did well with our series box seats, somebody buys a box seat for 12 sessions. We did well with the packages. Where we really got hit was the individual middle tier tickets. We're something like 40% down. It's the person who just comes for a session or three. So maybe those were Venus followers, you know. I don't know. But I'm relieved to find out that our core supporters, our core, loyal fans came back. The 13, I guess it's a combination of the economy. I don't know how much the Venus factor weighs in.

Q. Are we spoiled by it? I know it was written the other day, 80,000 is pretty good, one of the second highest attended tournaments throughout the country, but we're used to higher numbers.

MIKE DAVIES: We may be the third or fourth highest-attended women's tennis tournament in the world, women only.

ANNE WORCESTER: Within a couple of hundred tickets, we're basically tied for fourth overall in 60 tournaments in 25 countries. You know, after six years on the tour, compared to tournaments which have been in much larger cities for upwards of 20, 25 years, we'll take that. To your point, the other night I was looking at it, we have a new communications manager here for the first time. Very professional, competent guy, Roger. He said, "I can't believe how pig your stadium is one of the largest stadium in the world for a women's only tennis event. I've never seen a tournament get 6,000 spectators for opening day. I've never seen a tournament draw between 6,000 and 8,000 every single session, regardless of who is playing. You need to have a little bit of a reality check." He basically reminded me that we experienced meteoric growth in five short years. In four years' time we became the best attended in our class. 6,000 fans for opening day is what most other women's tennis tournaments attract to their final.

MIKE DAVIES: On a Sunday.

ANNE WORCESTER: On a Sunday, yeah. Other tournaments have the luxury of a Saturday day semi, a Saturday night semi, and a Sunday final, and a Friday night quarter. You have four bonanza weekend sessions where we're only allowed to have two because of the US Open. I think that we all need to get in touch with reality and our feminine side. I couldn't resist. So I'm not disappointed in a thing. I think this is the best tournament we've had in six years.

Q. Mike mentioned going after the non-tennis fans. What do you look to build on, to try to get more of those non-tennis fans for next year and the year after?

ANNE WORCESTER: You know, I don't know. We have the best marketing staff of any tournament in the world. Our consumer promotions are creative, our sponsor promotions are creative, our consumer marketing relationships, partnerships, are creative. We have more full-time marketing expertise than really any other tournament other than the majors. It will be very interesting to sit down and debrief this year. If you have any suggestions, let us know.

Q. Are there a lot more challenges for next year, not just with the conflict with the golf, but the Olympics, getting people from Greece?

MIKE DAVIES: I think it's going to be interesting to see what the situation is coming from Athens. We're feeling that there are going to be a lot of players who are needing to get back to the time zone they're going to be playing in at the US Open. You have a six-hour time zone difference with New Haven and Athens where they're playing the tennis. I think we may be surprised in terms of the field. But there's no doubt about it, at the moment I'm sure the Williams sisters are planning to play the Olympics. Are they going to be in the finals? Who knows. I would think the Belgians are going to play there, too, unless they have a row with their National Federation or the Olympic Committee. It will be interesting. I'm sort of keeping an open mind as to what kind of field we're going to have with the Olympics being right before us next year. Also the GHO. It's a matter of fact, and we're going to try to make that into as positive a thing as we can. I've already met with the people that come down here and have seen what we're doing. I think they're suitably impressed with what we're doing, too. We're going to get together and see if we can put together some marketing and some promotional tools that will help both of us. It's going to be a fact of life. Sort of hard to think about it. But people are going to have to be in two places at one time, spread around.

Q. Will you do market research on the overlap?

MIKE DAVIES: Yes. We've done some of it already as far as the fan base. There's a lot to be said. We're not sure how many people from the Fairfield area and this side go up to the GHO, whereas I know we get quite a few people from the Hartford area come down here. We'll see. It will be a learning experience because it's never happened before.

Q. When do you crack open the Ultra Light and start drinking?

ANNE WORCESTER: Very soon (laughter).

MIKE DAVIES: How about that on the court? That was pretty good with Jennifer. You staged that one really well.

ANNE WORCESTER: I can take no credit.

MIKE DAVIES: I know you had that one.

Q. It was not staged?

ANNE WORCESTER: No. Are you kidding? I would never have suggested that to a tennis player.

MIKE DAVIES: Something a little bit risque for sports.

ANNE WORCESTER: We're always very careful with endorsements.

MIKE DAVIES: That was her. We'll have a great event next year. Thanks for helping us.

ANNE WORCESTER: Thanks for all you're undying support.

MIKE DAVIES: You really have supported us tremendously, especially getting that word out. Without you, we would be a failure.

ANNE WORCESTER: The WTA could not get over how strong our local media is, how many people attended the all-access area. The other tournaments in LA and San Diego and Stanford had 15 to 20 members of the media for the all-access. We had 25 to 30. It's fantastic. So thanks.

End of FastScripts….

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