An Interview with CEO of the WTA, Stacey Allaster: “It’s exciting to note how global tennis has become” - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

WTA

An Interview with CEO of the WTA, Stacey Allaster: “It’s exciting to note how global tennis has become”

Published

on

TENNIS – On Wednesday the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix was visited by Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, who found her way to Stuttgart once again this year. Porsche Tennis Grand Prix media spoke to the Canadian about women’s tennis today and in the future, WTA’s responsibility towards the players and the importance of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix for the WTA. From Stuttgart, Simone Kemler

Ms Allaster, the Board of Directors are accompanying you to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. What’s the importance of the tournament for the WTA?

The Porsche Tennis Grand Prix is very important to the WTA. Each year the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix event exhibits the vision of the WTA “to be the most inspirational and exciting sport entertainment experience on earth”. I’ve been fortunate to attend the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix a number of times over the years, and I think it sets an extremely high standard. Furthermore, and most importantly, this is a tournament the athletes love to play. The tournament’s honor roll features many of the sport’s legends – and they’ve come back year after year. It has always been a pleasure to attend the tournament.”

 

The WTA represents over 2,500 players from 92 nations. How important is player welfare for you and where in particular do you see the WTA’s responsibility as being?

The health and welfare of our athletes is our number one priority. We have a world class Sports Science and Medicine team that focuses on prevention, triage and rehabilitation in and out of competition. Our Director of Athlete Assistance travels to support the athletes, their coaches and parents. And we have a dedicated team that focuses on professional development programs. These programs include: (i) WTA Rookies that provides services and professional advice to help young players transition from the juniors to professional tennis; and (ii) WTA Transitions that provides professional development for those athletes who are nearing the end of their on-court careers. The type of programs offered include university undergraduate and masters degrees, coaching certification, public speaking, real estate, financial management and media training.”

 

Women’s tennis has developed rapidly in the past years. What in your opinion were the pivotal strategic changes?

The introduction of Roadmap circuit reform in 2007 was a pivotal moment for the WTA. Our vision was to build a tournament structure that increased the participation rates of the WTA’s top players, while elongating the off-season in order to help cut down on injuries and prolong careers. As of February, we have 15 players aged 30 or older in the Top 100, including our World No.1 Serena Williams, who is still reigning supreme and breaking records at 32-years old.”

 

Where does women’s tennis stand in 2014 and what are your plans for the near future?

With the tennis markets in Europe and the Americas at a mature stage, it was important to seek to establish women’s tennis in emerging markets, such as China, South East Asia and Brazil. In 2008, in conjunction with the WTA’s 35th anniversary, we opened an office in Beijing, China and upgraded the China Open to a Premier Mandatory event. This year our players could compete in a two-week swing in Brazil, with a tournament in Rio de Janeiro joining the Florianopolis event, which made its debut on the calendar in 2013. We’ll have a record number of tournaments in the Asia-Pacific region in 2014, culminating in our crown jewel event – the season-ending WTA Championships – to be hosted in Singapore for the next five years.”

 

The expansion in recent years has come above all in Asia. Is the rest of the world maybe getting a bit of raw deal?

Europe and the Americas have been great success stories for women’s tennis. Tennis is very popular there and many of our players come from Europe. It’s exciting to note how global tennis has become and that’s why we’re also identifying growth opportunities for women’s tennis in emerging markets. But don’t worry Europe continues to host 23 tournaments – more than any other region on the 2014 WTA calendar. And when you include Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Europe continues to be a key foundation of the WTA’s global calendar. Additionally, with an extra week between Roland Garros and Wimbledon confirmed for 2015, tennis fans can look forward to an extended European grass court swing.”

 

Two players in particular are presently inspiring fans all over the world: Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. How important are such superstars for women’s tennis and who do you feel can follow in their footsteps?

There’s no doubt that players such as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Li Na are global superstars of our sport. They not only continue to inspire us all with their on-court performance, but they transcend the sport: whether it is building schools in Africa like Serena has done; becoming the CEO of a multi-million dollar, international company like Maria has done; or being named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people as Li Na has been. These players are standing on the shoulders of the women who came before them and living the dream that resulted in the formation of the WTA.”

 

Who can replace the superstars in the future?

As for the future, it’s looking bright. We have 10 different nations represented in our Top 10, and a host of young players rising through the ranks and looking to make their mark on the sport. Keep an eye on players such as Eugenie Bouchard (Canada), Madison Keys (USA), Garbine Muguruza (Spain), Laura Robson (UK), Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) and Elina Svitolina (Ukraine), along with Germany’s own Annika Beck, who just turned 20 and already has a career-high of No. 46 in the world.”

 

What do you think about the rise of women’s tennis in Germany and just how far do you feel the top German players can go?

I think German tennis fans should be immensely proud of the women representing them on the WTA. Outside of the US, Germany has more players ranked in the Top 100 than any other nation. To have seven women ranked inside the Top 100 (as of February) is a fantastic achievement in a global sport such as tennis. Angelique Kerber has become a fixture in the Top 10; we saw Sabine Lisicki reach her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon last year; and Andrea Petkovic and Julia Görges have broken into the Top 10 and Top 15 respectively over the last few years. These players not only compete hard, but are some of the most popular players on tour too. It is wonderful to see the camaraderie the German girls share, the encouragement and support they give each other, and I think the sky is the limit for what they could achieve in the future.”

 

Back to the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix: Why do you believe the players have voted it so often as their favourite tournament?

The WTA has 22 premier tournaments and to be named the players’ favourite Premier-level tournament five times is a credit to Porsche, Markus and Anke’s leadership. Like the Porsche brand, Markus and Anke are committed each year to providing the athletes with a world class experience that ultimately enhances their performance. Each year the Tournament Directors and Operating Tournament Director are focused on the fine details that make such a difference and they are always asking themselves, despite the high standards, how they can evolve and improve the players’ experience for next year.”

 

What makes the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix different to other tournaments?

Many tournaments provide all the important services for the athletes yet what makes the difference is the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix’s commitment to precision in all of these key areas. Along with world class services, each year the tournament staff rolls out the “911” red carpet for all the athletes and their guests. There are never any problems for the tournament team, just solutions to help the athletes, and it is the passion of the fans that really shines through and lifts this event to a high performance level.” (Porsche Tennis Grand Prix)

Latest news

Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

Published

on

image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Continue Reading

WTA

Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

Published

on

After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

Published

on

Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

Continue Reading

Trending