SBD/Issue 46/Leagues & Governing Bodies

WTA Final Draws Large Crowd, Boosts L.A. Market

Sharapova’s Win Comes In
Front Of Record Crowd

The WTA Tour Championships final Monday between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova drew 11,397, the largest single-session crowd since the tournament moved to Staples Center three years ago. The six-day event drew an average of 8,890 fans per session, up 19% from last year’s six-day average of 7,448. Last year’s final between Kim Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo drew 8,925 (THE DAILY). WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott said during a state of the game address before the final, “We’re pleased with the job our partners at AEG and Octagon have done. In terms of marketing and promotion the event has really gotten some traction [in L.A.].” In L.A., Lauren Gustus noted the tone of the address “was decidedly different than that of last year’s, during which Scott announced the tournament would not be returning” to L.A. The event will return to L.A. in ’05, but the location is undetermined after that (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/15).

ROCK & ROLL ATMOSPHERE: In L.A., Bill Dwyre writes Monday’s final “had sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” Sharapova, who was featured in racy ads for the event, “made the marketing guys look smart” by winning the tournament. Dwyre: “There were those in the media who ... objected strongly and publicly to the use of a 17-year old as a sex symbol.” Sharapova earned $1M for the victory and told the crowd that the Porsche that she also won would be donated to benefit the families of children who were victims in the Russian school shootings in September. Dwyre notes AEG “rolled the dice on this event and not only got Monday night’s tennis thriller/soap opera, but also got big-league entertainment Sunday from the Amelie Mauresmo-Williams semifinal” (L.A. TIMES, 11/16). In San Diego, Jerry Magee writes “decorum took a thrashing” at last night’s final. The PA announcer attempted “to rouse a crowd” before the match by asking, “Who’s got some energy?” The announcer also asked “at the top of his lungs ‘Are you ready for some tennis?’” Despite an increase in attendance this year, the tournament “wasn’t going to [recoup the $3M in purse money] drawing” less than 9,000 until last night (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/16).

THE LADY IS A CHAMP: In Tampa, Eduardo Encina writes Sharapova “gave Hollywood and the WTA the glamour girl it wanted to revive what had become a season finale dud the past two years” (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/16).

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