SBD/January 27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Allaster Says Aussie Open Winner Li Na Playing Key Role In WTA's Asia Boom

Li garnered the most social media attention among Aussie Open women's players
WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said that it is "no coincidence" that women's tennis has experienced rapid growth in Asia since Li Na, who just won the Australian Open, "started to reach the business end of Grand Slam tournaments," according to Will Davies of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Allaster said, "Li is the most influential player this decade for the growth of women’s tennis." Australian Open organizers said that the Chinese player was "the most popular female player during the tournament in terms of social media attention." The WTA in an effort to "capitalize on the growing popularity of the sport in Asia ... is moving its biggest event to the region for the first time" in October. Singapore won the rights to host the event "ahead of Tianjin" in China. Allaster said, "The good news about Singapore is the five-year approach. In Istanbul it was just three ... we were only just getting in the groove and then we had to leave." Allaster added that Singapore was "chosen because of its record in hosting major sporting events, including the Formula One grand prix, and high standard of hotels, transport and other infrastructure." Allaster: "No doubt that Li Na has helped take the foundation of the strategy and escalate it and move it far faster than I ever imagined." The Championships also "will include doubles, a 'legends' event and, for the first time, a junior’s event." In an effort to promote the WTA’s Singapore campaign, the organization has signed Tennis HOFer Chris Evert "as its ambassador" (WSJ.com, 1/27). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Hite & Li noted Li Na on Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo "shot to the top ranks of trending items" (WSJ.com, 1/25).
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