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IMG GUARANTEES WTA A SPONSOR IN MARKETING DEAL
Published February 17, 1995
One day after rejecting a bid for title sponsorship from Tambrands, the WTA Tour signed a deal with IMG that will give IMG exclusive rights to the WTA's marketing and television rights (WTA Tour). The four-year deal could be worth as much as $17M according to the USA TODAY. IMG currently owns six of the sixty events on the WTA Tour and represents a "substantial" number of the top stars, including Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce and former players Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. IMG currently has a similar deal with the men's ATP Tour, which raised questions in "tennis circles" of a potential conflict of interest. IMG spokesperson Linda Dozoretz: "IMG has a vested interest in tennis, not a conflict. ... They have no interest in taking over women's tennis so their clients will profit from it" (Sal Ruibal, USA TODAY, 2/17). According to the WTA Tour's Ana Leaird, IMG will have responsibility for selling the title sponsorship to the tour, for which IMG will receive a commission. The WTA has been looking for a tour title-sponsor since the tour's association with Virginia Slims ended last year (THE DAILY). The agreement runs through 1999 and also includes international television, and licencing rights. WTA CEO Anne Person Worcester: "By drawing on IMG's resources and long-term investment in the game, this new alliance will help further our goals of strengthening the global popularity and stature of women's tennis as the preeminent sport for women worldwide" (WTA). REACTION: The Tambrands deal rejected by the WTA was put together by Advantage International, which previously held tour marketing rights. The "timing" of the two deals led to speculation that rejection of Tampax was "tied to the signing of the more lucrative IMG deal." WTA Tour CEO Person Worcester: "The Tampax decision was based on the tour's long-term goals, not short term financial gain." IMG Spokesperson Dozoretz also said, "They were two separate deals" (USA TODAY, 2/17). One U.S. TV exec, on the possible Tambrands sponsorship: "Tampax would give all other potential tournament sponsors an excuse not to invest in women's tennis" (Steve Wilstein, AP/DETROIT NEWS, 2/16).