Following Success In China, WTA Sets Sights On Growth In Singapore, Southeast Asia
WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster "hailed Li Na's rise as a key factor behind the growth of women's tennis in Asia as the next generation of Chinese players follow in the Grand Slam winner's footsteps and make their mark on the game," according to Patrick Johnston of REUTERS. Li's '11 French Open victory made her the "first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles title and spiked interest" in China. Allaster yesterday praised Li "for her continued efforts in building the sport." She said Li is "the athlete that will make the greatest impact on the growth of women's tennis in this decade." Allaster added, "You can have a strategy with multi-thronged pillars but you need the stars and Li is obviously our star here in Asia." Johnston wrote China's appetite for tennis "seems only growing." Allaster said that a "huge chunk of their fans were coming from the country where the WTA will have eight events next year, up from two in 2008, as other sports continue to struggle to make an impact." Johnston noted the WTA based on the success in China now has its "eyes on Singapore and Southeast Asia as the next market for growth as their tournament portfolio in Asia-Pacific continues to increase." Singapore will host the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships for five years beginning in '14, and the WTA is "in the process of setting up an office in the wealthy citystate to help with their plans." Allaster was "cautious about predicting a repeat success of their China venture in a market known for corruption in sports." But she said that Li's success "had meant anything was possible" (REUTERS, 9/24).
THE BEST IS YET TO COME: ESPN.com's Kamakshi Tendon wrote under the header, "Asia New Hotspot For WTA Tour." The post-US Open season, "once dominated by European indoor events, has become a full-fledged Asian swing." Next year, "six of the seven tournament weeks after the US Open will contain events in South East Asia, including all but one (Moscow) of the high-level Premier tournaments." Asian events "now outnumber North American ones," as the Asia-Pacific region "as a whole will account for 23 of the tour's events" in '14. Allaster said, "We just made a strategic decision to nurture our mature markets and make them successful, (plus) look at where an opportunity is -- one market. And we chose Asia in 2008. And we're only starting. We haven't even begun to realize the opportunity of China and Southeast Asia" (ESPN.com, 9/24).