SBJ/20100308/This Week's News

Virgin Mobile signs Oudin to 4-year deal

Melanie Oudin, the surprising 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist, has agreed to an endorsement deal with cellular phone service provider Virgin Mobile. The deal is scheduled to be announced Tuesday.

The four-year agreement could be worth as much as $2 million depending on how Oudin performs. It guarantees her at least around $500,000.

Virgin Mobile will contribute $1 million to homeless-youth organizations if 18-year-old Oudin wins this year’s U.S. Open. Virgin Mobile’s The RE*Generation program raises awareness on the issue in the United States.

Virgin Mobile joins BackOffice Associates and AirTran in having reached deals with Oudin after her U.S. Open run last year, said John Tobias, head of tennis at BEST, Oudin’s agency,

Because the deal is for cellular phone service, as opposed to hardware, it does not conflict with the WTA’s sponsor relationship with Sony Ericsson, even though WTA players, as independent contractors, are free to sign conflicting deals. Nevertheless, Tobias said Virgin Mobile and Oudin held off announcing the deal until Sony Ericsson and the WTA had reached an extension of their agreement.

— Daniel Kaplan

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