SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Game Changers

Game Changers: Anne Worcester

VICTORIA WORCESTER
While in Spain in the ’80s, Worcester entered a local amateur tennis event, borrowed a racket and promptly won the championship trophy, which she holds in the photo.
Anne Worcester
New Haven Open
Tournament Director

When Anne Worcester took over running what’s now the New Haven Open at Yale after years in senior management within women’s tennis, she recalls then-ATP Properties President Larry Scott telling her she would be the world’s most overqualified tournament director. Such was the reaction when the former WTA Tour CEO, director of worldwide operations for the Virginia Slims Tour, and managing director of the Women’s Tennis Council headed one tourney instead of 60. Worcester was at the forefront of many fundamental issues in women’s tennis, including the fight for equal prize money, and she helped make women’s tennis economically viable by significantly expanding sponsorship and TV revenue.

Worcester these days would much prefer to talk about the 5,000 New Haven kids the tourney has helped channel through grassroots tennis programs, and she is helping to market the city as CMO of Market New Haven. Overqualified? Few tournament directors of either gender have as much experience with players, events, TV and sales on a domestic and global scale as Worcester. If all that talent has accrued to one tourney and city, so be it.

— Terry Lefton
  • Crowning professional achievement: Re-establishing the viability of women’s tennis, but I’m just as proud, if not more so, of the grassroots program we have that’s put 5,000 inner-city kids through tennis programs.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: February 1997: Women’s tennis was increasingly strong and competitive, yet the chairman of Wimbledon called me to officially decline the WTA Tour’s request for equal prize money.
  • What is the best advice you've ever received?: Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. My father gave me that, but I think it came from Confucius.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Usually I would say it is the ups and downs of the economy, but this year, we had an earthquake and a hurricane during the week of the tournament.
  • Ten years from now, I hope to be …: Healthy. [Worcester is recovering from breast cancer.]

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Anne has a big heart and a big work ethic. It’s never just business to her; she really cares and it shows.”

  • Stephanie Tolleson, former IMG senior corporate vice president
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