Wimbledon Champion Sharapova Coming to Seoul in September
JULY 27, 2004 22:04
by Jong-Seok Kim (email@example.com)
Wimbledon Champion Maria Sharapova (17, Russia) will be visiting Korea for the first time this year.
She will be participating in the country’s first Women’s Professional Tennis Association (WTA) Tour, the Hansol Korea Open Championships, opening at the Seoul Olympic Park tennis court on September 27.
The title sponsor Hansol Group announced at a press conference on July 27, “Sharapova’s participation is confirmed, and we have acquired the final approval from the WTA Tour.”
Sharapova, who has become popular enough to be ranked first on internet search rankings among Web users, will be holding a tennis clinic for junior players, an autograph session, and a professional-amateur tournament, as well as her participation in the championships.
The cost to invite Sharapova, who ranks eighth worldwide, was not exposed but is known to be close to $200,000, greatly exceeding the total prize money of the event ($140,000).
Besides, she will be receiving the red carpet treatment, with three first-class round-trip tickets, a suite room at a special-class hotel, an exclusive limousine, and bodyguards.
However, the sponsoring side is hardly showing reluctance at all of this cost. It is expected that the stature of the tournament, which is rated a level-four WTA tour event, will be greatly enhanced and that the TV relay broadcast cost will bring a profit worth close to 200 million won. Side profits from sub-sponsors and equipping publicity booths for companies will also be profitable. Admission fees will be collected, somewhat different from former tournaments held in Korea, which may help the event to be a success as well.
With her win at Wimbledon and her striking maximum price, Sharapova had turned down the invitation to this tournament, but her schedule for tournaments in China and Japan, which will be held right before and after the Hansol Open Championships, were a favorable influence on her final decision to attend. Sharapova told of her wish to visit Korea someday after eating kalbi (Korean Barbecue) with Director Ju Won-hong and Lee Hyeong-taek of Samsung Securities in Los Angeles last year.
Sharapova was born in Siberia and first held a tennis racket at the age of four. She left to attend a tennis academy in the U.S. at the age of seven and won her first major championship title 10 years later. She is lovely and fit enough to be a model with blonde hair, a weight of 59 kilograms, and a height of 183cm.
Meanwhile, Sharapova will return to the tour for the first time at the Acura Classic, which opens this week after Wimbledon.
Why would she want to play in lower Tier IV level tournament??