|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
August 12, 2013
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â Good afternoon, everyone.Â Welcome to the Western and Southern Open, one of the WTA's premier tournaments.Â We're here with very exciting news.Â Allow me to introduce everybody on stage, starting with WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster.
STACEY ALLASTER:Â Good morning, everyone.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â SAP senior vice president of strategic global initiative, Steve Peck.
And we are lucky to have the two best players in the world on the WTA, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
So without further ado, Stacey Allaster has very exciting news to share.
STACEY ALLASTER:Â Here we are.Â Can you see me?
We all know 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the WTA.Â As I've traveled the world, I've often been asked, Why is women's tennis the number one sport for women?Â And my response has been the following:Â We have had the world's best female athletes for 40 years.Â And each generation keeps taking it to the next level, just like Serena and Vika are.
It's hard not to be number one when you have players like Serena and Vika.
We've also had incredibly visionary promoters, like the great Paul Flory.Â I know he is smiling today down at all of us, and so excited about the success of the Western and Southern Open and how this women's event has grown into being such a success here in Cincinnati.
So along with great promoters like Paul, we've also had innovative sponsors who believe in the return on investment in women's tennis, and sponsors who want to push us a little bit to make us a really compelling sports entertainment experience, not only for our players, but for our fans.
And so it's fitting on this 40th anniversary that we welcome the world's largest software provider, SAP, to the WTA family.
It's been a year in the making, and I know that we are all set to join this journey with this incredible company, SAP, setting to fundamentally change the game of women's tennis.
Through the use of SAP's analytics, we will be able to provide greater statistical and data insight, and through SAP's technology our athletes will gain a competitive edge.Â Media and fans will have greater access to richer and faster data across multiple platforms.
For years, Steve, I've been walking through airports, and I would see these large billboards, SAP runs NBA, SAP runs sailing.Â I can't tell you how excited I am today to know that our two brands are now aligned and SAP will run women's tennis.
STEVE PECK:Â Awesome, yeah.
STACEY ALLASTER:Â So it's been an incredibly exciting time for women's tennis.Â On court has never been better.Â Thank you, ladies.
We've got one player in particular who's kind of focused on breaking records and making history, and it's a joy for all of us to watch.
We have her doubles partner today on stage with us who might have a few things to say about those records.Â But they are playing great ball, together with all of the athletes on tour.
And we've been winning off the court.Â We have signed more than $200 million of contracted revenues in the past three years, our largest TV deal in our history, with Perform.Â The largest Championships deal in our history.Â And when you think about 1973, we had 14 events, predominantly in the United States, and the athletes were competing for $1 million.
Billie's dream has come true.Â We are a commercially successful global tour with 54 events in 33 countries, and our athletes are competing for more than $118 million in prize money, and we are announcing partnerships with premium brands like SAP.
They say it takes a village to raise a child.Â I can tell you it took a village to bring this partnership to fruition.Â So I would like to just take a moment and thank so many people that allowed us the opportunity to come on stage today.
First start with my WTA team, led by Andrew Walker and Kirsten Fisher.Â They did an incredible job.
I'd like to thank IMG, our global sales agency, who brought us together.Â Usually, it takes one champion inside a company for a partnership to happen.Â Boy, were we lucky.Â We had three at SAP.Â Chris Burton, Jenni Lewis‑‑ where's Jenni?Â She is so passionate, not only about SAP, but women's tennis.Â Thank you.
And to Alycia De Avila.Â Did I do okay?Â Work on my Spanish.Â Two women who really believed in this partnership.
Thank you, ladies.
And also, I'd like to give a special thank you to Justin Gimelstob, who has been consulting with SAP.Â He did a great job at sharing with SAP on how tennis as a platform would reach diversity, touch generations, and really provide a compelling opportunity to build SAP's business.
So thank you to Justin.
Steve, we are incredibly proud of SAP's commitment to women's sport.Â We thank you for recognizing the value of women's tennis.Â We will deliver.Â You know those two ladies beside you will day in, day out deliver for you, and we can't wait to get started, to create some really innovative and cool solutions to grow our business and to enhance the experience for tennis.
STEVE PECK:Â We feel the same way, Stacey.
STACEY ALLASTER:Â So over to you, my friend.Â Steve Peck, senior vice president, global strategic initiatives.
STEVE PECK:Â All right.Â We knew we weren't going to be able to leave the mic in the same position.Â Just sayin'.
It is a big day, though.
STACEY ALLASTER:Â I got to get bigger heels.
STEVE PECK:Â We'll work on that.Â I have my elevator shoes on.Â Only 5'3" without them.
We too are extremely excited.Â SAP is only a year older than the WTA, so this is a match made in heaven in that regard.
Really, we're so proud to partner with the WTA.Â It's just an incredible organization from the top right on through the organization.Â Truly a leader in global women's sport and an innovator.
So we're really excited about being able to take the technologies that we've learned over 41 years as a leading enterprise application and cloud provider in the world, 230,000 customers around the globe, and we treat everyone with the same desire to win and run better and be great.
But when we can put a partnership together like this where we can truly collaborate and take the knowledge we have with the innovation you're providing to help make the sport better and advance, it's really exciting.
As part of my role at SAP, I get to head up all of our sports initiatives around the world.Â So I get to deal with some really great organizations:Â NBA, NFL, McLaren Sport, and so on.
But I love the passion for innovation here.Â It's a great sport.Â To see how we can use data to better engage the fans, to help better coach the players, to help better provide analytics that help make in‑game coaching better.
These are all the same kind of things that other sports are looking at doing, but you had the courage to do it and to make the change, and we're excited about where that's going to take players and extend careers.
Most importantly, the fans out there are just thirsty for data.Â I've got a 13‑ and 15‑year‑old.Â I know, even when they're in the house, if I want them for dinner I just text them.Â (Laughter.)
So everybody, while they're going back and forth watching the live tennis, wants to see data right in the palm of their hand.Â This is the world we have today.Â It's about the second screen.Â It's about getting the data and engaging fans, and we have to compete with all the other sports and all the other outlets out there.
The more you engage the fans, the happier they're going to be.Â And then once you engage them, the more you can get to know them.Â And there's fans all over the world.Â As a truly global sport, it's so great to be able to partner with you in Istanbul this year and Singapore next year.
We've had a long commitment to tennis over the years, but this is really a crowning moment for us with the WTA.
So we're really happy for it.Â We're looking forward to the collaboration and innovation for very many, many years to come, and we're just excited about where it's going to take us.
With that, I'll kick it back over to Mary Joe.Â Thank you.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â Thank you, Steve.Â This is such an exciting day really for the WTA and SAP.
I believe SAP Analytics is really going to add tremendous value, and it's going to transform the sport of tennis in all areas.
As a former player, I wish I had this when I played.Â This would have helped me out a lot to be able to perform better with all the strategy and patterns and tendencies that you can follow.
But I am going to benefit from it because, as a commentator, I think we're going to be able to tell the story that you're watching on TV better and better connect with the fans.
A lot of what Stacey and Steve touched on is so true.Â The fans are going to be able to get closer to the action on a daily basis.Â And I think the players are really going to benefit from the on‑court coaching that they get during the year on the WTA Tour.
The coaches are going to be able to look all these stats up, all these patterns, not just from the match, but from the season.Â So it's a cumulative thing, and it's a win‑win really for everybody involved.Â So I'm really excited about this new partnership.
So I'm going to have Vika and Serena come up and talk a little bit about this partnership.Â Both Vika and Serena's coaches have actually looked at some of the analytics throughout the season.
I'm going to introduce the winner of 16 WTA titles.Â She defended her Australian Open title this year, No.2 in the world right now, Victoria Azarenka.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:Â Hello, everybody.Â I actually thought Serena was going to go first, so give me a second to prepare my speech.
Thank you so much.Â It is a very exciting day for the WTA and for us players.Â Being in collaboration with SAP, it's something that I think everybody was looking forward to to expand our sport, to really take it to the next level, to educate not only fans but also players, you know, young players who can get more excited about it.
I know my coach looked through it and he's very excited.Â He was just there talking.Â You know, Can we please go and move forward and get some more information?
So on my behalf and on behalf of all the players, I just want to thank you, everybody who worked on this project to happen.Â Stacey, you know, you always have our back and always watch how we can take women's tennis and bring it to a better level.
Over 40 years, from where everybody started, today we are here with such a great partnerships and so much technology that we can look forward in the future.Â I'm really happy to be a part of this generation.Â Thank you all for coming.
I can't wait to have this collaboration in place and for everybody to be engaged.Â Thank you very much.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â Thank you, Vika.
And now, just coming off a win yesterday in Toronto, winner of 16 majors, this year's French Open champion, Miss Serena Williams.
SERENA WILLIAMS:Â Thank you very much for having us.Â We are so honored to be standing here today and to make this great announcement with SAP.
And being a part of the WTA for a few generations, it is so exciting to see partners like SAP come on just to add so much analytics, like we were talking about, that can just bring so much to the game.
My coach was actually in Turkey, and he came up to me and was telling me all these statistics and all these facts.Â And I'm like, Where did you get all this information from?Â And they're like, Well, the WTA is working on something to get more stats and to get more this.Â And I was like, Wow, this sounds really cool.
So I think in the day and age where technology is just at literally everyone's fingertips, it's going to be so exciting not only for the players, not only for the competitors, not only for the coaches, but most of all for the fans, for the viewers, to have an opportunity to just be that much closer and that much more involved into tennis.
We are really so excited to be a part of the WTA to now have SAP as a WTA partner.Â So we would like to thank you, SAP, for joining us.Â We won't let you down.Â As women, we are strong, we are powerful, and 40 years later we still hope to be here and to be doing just what‑‑ well, I hope not to be here, but you never know.
Yes, thank you very much.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â I think this partnership might keep Serena in for another generation to come.Â Anyway, thank you, Serena.
We have a little bit of time left, so if anybody has a question for anybody up here.
Q.Â Whoever wants to field this is good.Â I know tennis for a long time hasn't had sort of accessible data archives like a lot of other sports, like baseball has had, that people can use to make advanced stats and things like that.Â How sort of open and accessible to academic researchers and fans is all this new data going to be?
STACEY ALLASTER:Â I think we're known to be an accessible sport.Â If the data is available, then we absolutely want to share it.Â I think, Ben, you're right.Â We haven't had a rich database of analytics historically.
I think we'll have that opportunity, but more importantly, going forward also there will be so much more depth with SAP software to be able to analyze it, record it, and make it historical for generations to come.
STEVE PECK:Â I think just from a technology perspective, the technology today really allows it to scale, because if you have millions of fans hitting a database on a website, that can create its own challenges.
Just recently with the NBA, we announced their stat site where every stat ever in the history of the NBA is online available to all the fans around the world now.Â We can do a very similar thing here too.
Every piece of data that comes our way, we've got a database called HANA that can crunch it real fast and make it a way where the fans are engaged and they come back.
And you know what?Â They hang around the websites longer and are really into it.Â It's exciting for in‑game and after game to be able to see what we're doing.
Q.Â This one is for Serena and Vika.Â You guys were talking about some of the stats that you're seeing that your coaches are bringing back that they're getting from SAP.Â Can you be a little bit more specific?Â What kind of stats are we talking about so that fans might know what might be coming down the pipeline that they can get excited about?
SERENA WILLIAMS:Â Just down right to every shot that's hit and where I hit it.Â To me it's important, also for Vika, so we can‑‑ just as a player, you know how to play better, how to mix up your game.Â We've never had access to that before.
This is actually a way that technology can improve one's game.Â You would think five years ago, How can technology improve a game?Â Well, here's your answer.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:Â I agree with Serena.Â I think it really just takes you to a place that‑‑ when you're on the court you don't visually see everything, the game, the way you see it on TV.
And with the stats, that kind of makes you more aware of what you do on the court and can help you to develop your game better.
I think for fans it is very exciting to see about all the players, but for me personally, as a player, I feel like it can take me and make me a better player to know how I play actually, because you never have a chance to play against yourself.Â So that's kind of a learning process.
Q.Â Were there any stats that you saw that surprised you?Â For both of you.
VICTORIA AZARENKA:Â Yeah, that I hit my serve faster than I think.Â I'm sure it didn't surprise Serena.
Q.Â I do a lot of analytics writing for "The New York Times", the ATP, and Tennis Magazine.Â Wonderful partnership here, and something that I think is going to be great for the game.Â Is there any view to look at different kind of stats and look at some areas and say, Well, this really isn't telling the best story, and to come up with some new developments in statistical areas?
STEVE PECK:Â Yeah, that's a great point.Â This announcement is not a destination; it's the beginning of a journey.Â And as you learn to track stats that are meaningful, that impact the game, as we say, either from a media perspective where you can gain better insights to deliver more quality media time, or to the fans who want to see certain things, and to the coaches and players.
You mentioned baseball.Â Other sports have been using analytics in‑game for a while that are adapting along the line, and I expect this to be a journey too.Â We're going to find some really meaningful things.
The big one is going to be insight in a mountain of data.Â I imagine you guys hit a lot of shots in any one game, much less a season, right?Â There will be actionable insights.Â We can spot patterns and trends, and as you start to look at other key factors, I'm sure that will be added as we go down this journey and collaborate together on it.
Q.Â I know SAP has been really good about listening to the fans and their input and what they want to see.Â Is that going to continue with tennis here?Â Have you already talked to tennis fans or had conferences or focus groups with tennis fans seeing what actually's important to them and what they want to see?
STEVE PECK:Â Great question.Â We employ a methodology called design thinking in all we do with our development, so that's really getting the developers in the room with the target.
So whether it's scouting and player performance, whether it's fan engagement, we do that, and we're going to continue to do that in tennis.Â We've done it in other sports.
It's interesting because the feedback you get in sports isn't always just technology related.Â It's just you learn so much about what the fans are really looking for to make the day better and then follow the sport more closely when you're coming down the road.
So we fully intend to do that here.
Q.Â With respect to baseball and football stadiums changing names every two, three years, you had mentioned this deal was about a year in the process.Â How long is this partnership?
STEVE PECK:Â The initial one is committed through 2016, but...
STACEY ALLASTER:Â You told me forever.Â And once you get us in, we never leave you.Â No pressure.
STEVE PECK:Â Surrounded by women.Â Just dig in.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â It's forever.
STEVE PECK:Â Right now through 2016, but forever.Â We didn't look at this as short term at all, and our history is thinking in the long term.Â Just the fact we're an independent brand 41 years later in a technology space is pretty stunning in and of itself.
We also don't pick partnerships just because they may look good or be trendy.Â This was about being able to make a strategic impact on the business, and in turn, getting so much more in return and strategic impact on the brand.
So we take the long view in what we do, and this is going to be a great showcase for us and our other 24 industries outside of sport.
I expect it to be a very long‑term relationship.Â Is that good?
STACEY ALLASTER:Â Good answer.
Q.Â Just basic data collection question.Â Is this all going to be coming off matches that are televised, or do you have new statistics keepers on site?
STEVE PECK:Â All the matches.
Q.Â All matches?
STEVE PECK:Â Every shot.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Â A lot of info.
Q.Â And how fast is that going to be available for the fans?Â Like you're watching a match, and then I don't know if I missed a part, but is that right away after the match?
STEVE PECK:Â That's awesome.Â That's part of it.Â Everybody wants things instantaneously, right?
Q.Â That's social media.
STEVE PECK:Â As we've already showcased at several matches, and we've been proud to be the mobile app sponsor with the Sony Open for years where we've helped showcase this, that it's coming in realtime instantaneously.
You see a shot, you can see what that play was, see how the setup was to where it goes.
But it's all meant to be done in realtime and lightning fast.Â Nobody wants to know a minute later, right?Â You want to know at the time.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â If you're watching a match and not watching it on TV, it's great you'll be able to see the replay, which you're not usually allowed to see.
STEVE PECK:Â The game is so fast too.Â I can't imagine without technology supporting it.Â I don't know exactly where it goes.Â Jenni does a good job of saying everybody knows eyes lie, but the shot tracker won't.Â You can see exactly where things go.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ:Â All right.Â Thank you very much for your questions.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports