MELBOURNE (Reuters Life!) - Women's professional tennis will create its own interactive reality television series to be streamed online and onto mobile phones in an effort to win new fans for the sport among the tech-savvy.
The "Xperia Hot Shots" series will feature six young Women's Tennis Association (WTA) players when it goes live in March, following the on and off court trials and tribulations of the players over more than 50 tournaments on the WTA tour.
The players will film themselves using mobile phones, share their experiences online by streaming them on YouTube and interact with fans through Facebook and other social media.
The public will also be able to vote on their favorite players, whose names will be chosen and announced in March.
"It's really going to help us to attract a whole new group of fans to the sport," Andrew Walkers, Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications at the WTA, said in a telephone interview from Melbourne.
"Younger fans, consumers who are living on line, consumers who are following our athletes not just because they're the world's greatest female athletes, but because they're interested in their off-court lives."
Maria Sharapova, the former world number one who took part in the launch, said by phone that by being online, the series could become a valuable networking tool for the sport.
"I think it also gives fans a perspective to see what we athletes have to go through, not just on the court but away from the court," she said.
Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Paul Casciato