October 5, 2015 / 7:35 PM / 2 years ago

Indian Wells executive Simon appointed WTA chief

(Reuters) - Steve Simon has been named CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) after Stacey Allaster stepped down for personal reasons, the governing body’s board of directors said on Monday.

Mar 20, 2015; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Serena Williams (USA) is followed by tournament director Steve Simon as she walks onto the court to talk to the crowd announcing her withdrawal due to knee injury.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Simon has been tournament director and chief operating officer of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells since 2004 and during his tenure oversaw the growth of the event into the largest outside the four majors.

“I am humbled, and at the same time very excited, about the opportunity that has been presented to me by the board,” Simon said in a statement released by the WTA.

“I will be focused on building upon the successful platforms that have been put in place by my predecessors, Stacey Allaster and Larry Scott, with a sole focus on driving excellence and innovation, while creating a premium experience for the fans.”

During her six-year tenure, Allaster secured a record number of new sponsors, enhanced the health and well-being of athletes by streamlining the calendar and saw a jump in TV viewership and attendance at the sport’s biggest events.

The 52-year-old Canadian also played an instrumental role in securing equal prize money for women tennis players at six WTA events and all four grand slams.

Simon’s appointment was endorsed by the big names in women’s tennis.

“Steve Simon is the right person for the job. His track record is marked by success. He is thoughtful, respectful and he has excellent business judgment,” American great and WTA founder Billie Jean King said.

World number one Serena Williams added: “I know how much he cares about the opinions of the players. He’s a good listener and he has our best interests in mind.”

Simon is expected to take up his appointment with the WTA full time from Nov. 30.

Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris

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