As many of you who read this little blog know I have been advocating for years for the WTA to not only produce its own content but to actually have its own network that would deal exclusively with women’s tennis. As a fan of the women’s game, I believe I have been tireless in my efforts to have the WTA and indeed even players think about what it would mean if the women had their own broadcast network. It would mean greater accessibility for fans of the game and it would grow the sport in a way not seen since the ATP had its Masters Series TV.
News broke today that the WTA has signed a US$525M contract with Perform to produce and air its content on all matches that are featured on the WTA Tour. This is being hailed as an historic achievement for women’s tennis and for women’s sports in particular.
While I have for many years been touting the WTA product as being exceptionally better than the men (even though it is my own biased opinion), I am glad to see that a media giant like Perform has also seen the benefits of partnering with an organisation that has only an upside to it. The new faces on the women’s tour, coupled with the strength of its current top 10 has assured us that Perform will, for many years, get more bang for its buck than many other sports.
Credit needs to be given to Stacey Allaster for brokering this deal. I am sure that there were many out there who were calling for her resignation after the debacle of not being able to see many marquee women’s matches, and this accomplishment is a significant milestone for Ms. Allaster and her team.
Not bad for an organisation without a named sponsor.
I am a strong believer that the more people who are exposed to women’s tennis, either via social media (and the women are doing a great job at this by the way), the more people will turn up to tournaments that feature the women. As the old adage goes, if you sell it, they will buy it. If fans of the sport are unable to see the matches being played by the women on the regular Tour, then when the sport gets to mainstream media, i.e. via the Grand Slams, then the casual viewer who tunes in will not only have an idea as to who the player with the terrific serve blasting her way to a title is, but they will start rooting for said player.
Thank you Stacey for listening to the voices of the masses. Well done.
The off season coaching changes continue. To recap the most recent coaching changes:
Nick Saviano is no longer coaching Eugenie Bouchard. Rumour has it that Sloane Stephens will be partnering with Saviano. As of today (9 December) this has not been confirmed, except that there have been pictures circulating in social media showing Stephens hitting at Saviano’s academy.
Agnieszka Radwanska has partnered with Martina Navratilova for the upcoming season. My instincts tell me that this is not a good hire. If it is that Radwanska has developed the mind set that she needs to be more aggressive during match play, then it will be, but as we have seen during last season, even though Radwanska has done something about her serve, a lot more needs to be done if she expects to bag that elusive Grand Slam title, or indeed to be able to compete with the top tier of women’s tennis.
Simona Halep has parted ways with Wim Fissette and is now working with a Romanian coach as well as Thomas Hogstedt as consultant.
Madison Keys is working along with Lindsay Davenport in relation to local tournaments (North America), but will be travelling with Wim Fissette (Halep’s former coach) on international assignments.
As of today’s writing, Eugenie Bouchard has not announced a new coach.