SBD/May 4, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ATP, WTA Enjoying Success In Sponsors, Attendance Despite Economic Downturn

ATP execs cite leaders like Federer and Nadal in helping drive interest in tennis
The ATP World Tour and WTA Tour "both have ridden the economic downturn of the past few years with aplomb," according to Charles Morris of the FINANCIAL TIMES. ATP Europe CEO & Commercial Dir Laurent Delanney said, “A huge point (in countering the downturn) is the incredible generation of players who are driving interest in our game. This has made us very attractive to fans and corporate partners alike through difficult economic times.” Just four different men -- Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Petro -- have won the 17 Grand Slam singles titles that have been held "since the financial crisis began" in late '07, while the "corresponding women's figure is 11." WTA CMO Andrew Walker said, "There is no question that having a consistent champion and rivalries is a key ingredient of success." Walker is "optimistic that might soon be remedied," with players such as Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki, Li Na and others "battling for Grand Slam wins." Walker: "If you look at it from that perspective, I feel good about our pipeline. I also like the mix of markets these players are from." Tennis' "global reach has also been crucial to its resilience during hard times." The sport's "international mix of players and tournaments has helped attract sponsors seeking to extend their brands as recession has bitten many markets." The ATP in '10 "secured a new global premier partner in Corona Extra," while in the past two years, it has also signed agreements with FedEx, Moet & Chandon and the city of Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, the WTA is "seeking a new principal sponsor," as its deal with Sony Ericsson ends this year. BNP Paribas, Rolex, Oriflame and Jetstar "have also signed in the past 18 months." Attendance is "also good, with ATP attendances holding steady" at about 4.4 million, while about 785 million viewers in more than 180 countries also watched ATP tournaments on TV last year, up almost 45% increase compared to '10. The '11-13 broadcast agreements "increased TV revenue" more than 60% (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/4).

ORDER ON THE COURT: SI.com's Courtney Nguyen wrote of the WTA, "After four years of talk about volatility and unpredictability, which critics considered symptomatic of a tour that was weak in talent and commitment, we’ve now had four months of extreme stability." Since Azarenka and Sharapova played "for the No. 1 ranking in the Australian Open final in January, the top two have met in two finals since, which is more than we can say about the men." SI.com's C.W. Sesno added, "I do think the stability is here to stay, but let me start by making one thing clear: Serena [Williams] is an anomaly." Sesno: "Would anyone really be more surprised if she bulldozed the field to hoist some hardware than if she stalled out in the early rounds?" (SI.com, 5/3).
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