WTA'S MCGUIRE POLITELY DECLINES ATP OFFER OF JOINT EVENTS
WTA Tour CEO Bart McGuire said yesterday that while the
ATP Tour has proposed joint men's and women's tennis events
which pool sponsorship and TV revenue, his "priority" is to
obtain a new long-term title sponsorship deal and a new TV
deal for the women's tour. Speaking with the media at the
Lipton Championships, McGuire said he has "philosophic
concerns, economic concerns, and some very practical
concerns about the joint venture concept." McGuire: "I
really doubt that the WTA Tour and the ATP Tour can agree on
prize money, revenue sharing, television exposure, to say
nothing of issues like practice and locker room facilities."
McGuire said he had not "quite shut the door on the joint
venture concept," but added that it is "not likely to happen
in the near future." McGuire will "consider the creation of
new combined events on an individual basis" (WTA Tour). In
Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, ATP Tour CEO Mark Miles said he was
"enormously frustrated" by the WTA Tour's perception that
any merger would undermine its position as the No. 1 women's
sport in the world. Miles: "I'm absolutely convinced that
nothing they can do on their own would generate as much
revenue as they would receive if they did collaborate with
us, and I also don't think the combined tour would impair
the ATP Tour's identity or that of the women." The TIMES'
Robin Finn: "Is tennis at a gender crossroads just in time
for the millennium? It looks that way" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
THAT'S RIGHT, THE WOMEN ARE STRONGER? In Miami, Edwin
Pope wrote on the crowds at the Lipton and called it the
"biggest sports-spectator event in South Florida history."
He added that "male professionals are trying to get back up
to speed with the females since Martina Hingis, Venus and
Serena Williams and Anna Kournikova ... arrived. Women are
coming on stronger than ever while the men's game is headed
for a crowd-appeal crisis" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/22).
OTHER WTA NEWS: McGuire said the Tour's Board of
Directors ratified the settlement to the players' dispute
announced in February. The Board also voted to add three
"independent, senior business executives, with no financial
interest in tennis," and agreed to eliminate the requirement
that matters be unanimously agreed upon." Finally, the Tour
will also open a European office in London to be headed by
its Dir of European Operations Georgina Clark (WTA Tour).