Women's tour shines during tough times, chief says

Mon Sep 7, 2009 6:40pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The women's tennis circuit lost only one title sponsor in 2009 despite the woes of the global economy, WTA Tour chief executive Stacey Allaster said on Monday.

Allaster, head of the 36-year-old organization that runs the professional women's tour, also said that three new tournaments have been added for 2010.

"Our players are delivering, the fans and sponsors, and what a time for it to come particularly during these tough economic times," Allaster told reporters at the U.S. Open.

Under the WTA "Roadmap" banner, a streamlined calendar was introduced this year to ensure more top names attend the key events. With the players now having to compete in fewer tournaments, Allaster said player withdrawals were down by 36 percent from 2008 to 2009.

"The Roadmap was about changing the culture and being committed to play," she said. "If you enter, you're committed to play.

"The bottom line is we want to be a credible product, consistently delivering to fans and sponsors and in 2009 our athletes have done that."

Allaster, who has been on the job for only two months, said of the tour's 51 title sponsors only one has dropped out, and that is "an incredible success story for women's tennis."

Tournaments have been added in Copenhagen and Kuala Lumpur, and the event in Los Angeles has moved to San Diego.   Continued...

<p>Melanie Oudin of the U.S. wears shoes bearing the message "BELIEVE" while serving to Nadia Petrova of Russia during their match at the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York, September 7, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray</p>