Ilana Kloss, CEO/commissioner, Mylan World TeamTennis
Ilana Kloss is CEO/commissioner of the newly branded Mylan World TeamTennis, which she runs with co-founder Billie Jean King. The former world No. 1 doubles player (she reached a high of No. 19 in singles) will additionally be inducted next month into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel. The WTT season lasts only three weeks, but those weeks are in July, so Kloss will be making just a quick, one-day trip to Israel for the July 17 induction. With Wimbledon about to start and the WTT season around the corner, Kloss shares some thoughts about her sport, including the nascent International Premier Tennis League and Mylan coming aboard as WTT’s lead sponsor.
We have had some informal discussions with [the new IPTL] and we hope that they are successful. It really for us verifies what we have been saying for a long time: that there is space in tennis for team competition.”
New for Mylan WTT in 2013: The title sponsorship, which is huge for any sports property; bringing in Venus [Williams] and Andy Roddick as equity owners of the league; and the Washington Kastles have won 32 straight matches. They are hoping to break the L.A. Lakers’ record [for consecutive wins in pro sports] of 33 straight. That is phenomenal in any pro sport; that is hard to do: being undefeated in two seasons.
Discussion points with IPTL?: Certainly having a discussion about a potential relationship. … Potential ways for us to be involved include licensing our format, which is proven and tried. We have a lot of experience in what doesn’t work. We could certainly help shorten any learning curve.
Favorite Wimbledon memory: I was part of the group at the Gloucester Hotel 40 years ago, about 40 players, at Wimbledon, that created the WTA. Billie said, “This is it. We are going to have an association when we walk out of here,” and we all basically signed a document, and that really was the birth of the WTA. That was a pretty historical moment to be in that room.
On the court: For me growing up in South Africa, we used to listen to Wimbledon on the radio; Wimbledon was the mecca. … In 1972, I actually went to Wimbledon and played in the junior event, and in those days they didn’t have any practice courts for juniors. Billie Jean was playing in the finals of singles and asked me to warm up with her before the finals — so I got to warm up [on] sacred ground. I won the juniors, and she won the singles.