FROM TENNIS AUSTRALIA WEBSITE
Mondial Womens Hardcourts
The poster girl of world tennis and soon to be crowned World No.1 Maria Sharapova
has signed to play the 2006 Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts on the Gold Coast in January next year in what is a major coup for the international tennis tournament.
"I look forward to coming down to Australia in January for the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts," said Sharapova, who next week will overtake Lindsay Davenport to become the fifth youngest World No.1 in ranking points history.
"The tournament and the Gold Coast have a great reputation among the players on the tour and I’m sure the facilities and fans will provide the ideal environment to begin the new year and my preparations for the Australian Open a few weeks later," she added.
The announcement comes on the same day that a new title sponsor was announced for the popular preparation event for the Australian Open, with Mondial coming on board in a three-year deal. Mondial is part of the Mondial Assistance global network, the world’s largest provider of travel insurance, medical assistance for travellers, health insurance for students and automotive assistance services.
In a further boost, Queensland Government through Queensland Events has also announced today an extension of its association with the tournament with a new three year agreement.
The re-named Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts
will take place at the Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast from 1-7 January 2006. "We are delighted to be able to welcome on board Mondial as the event’s naming rights sponsor on the same day as being able to confirm such a major drawcard as Maria Sharapova and renewed support from the Queensland Government." said Steve Wood, the new CEO of Tennis Australia.
Mondial Managing Director Peter Edwards at today's announcement.
"This tournament is renowned among the players as one of the best on the worldwide tour which is a major accolade. This reflects the financial and emotional investment put in by Tennis Australia and the event’s major supporters including the Queensland Government through Queensland Events Corporation, Gold Coast Tourism, Gold Coast City Council and Royal Pines Resort, to make it such a success year on year.
"As the opening event of the WTA tour, and a great first step on the ‘Road to the Australian Open’ for all the top name players taking part, the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts promises to be a treat for fans and players alike in 2006."
Peter Edwards, managing director of Mondial said, "The Queensland Government’s renewed commitment to the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts is especially welcome news. We are proud to be involved in bringing the star of international women’s tennis to the Gold Coast, and supporting what has clearly become one of the premier events on the Australian professional tennis championship calendar."
Tournament director Liz Smylie celebrates the announcement of Maria Sharapova's inclusion in the 2006 tournament with a new sponsor on board.
Liz Smylie, tournament director of the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourts said, "This tournament continues to attract big name stars as it provides an ideal environment to prepare for the first Grand Slam of the new tennis season.
"Every tournament in the world would love to have Maria Sharapova play in their event and I’m thrilled she has chosen the Gold Coast to begin her 2006 Grand Slam campaign. It underlines the tournament’s status on the WTA Tour as a first class event."
The Gold Coast tournament has been very successful in attracting big name players including former World No.1s Justine Henin-Hardenne and Venus Williams, Grand Slam legend Martina Navratilova and Anna Kournikova. 2005 saw one of the hottest fields ever assembled for a Tier III event with six of the world’s top 20 and four former tournament winners including two time champion Ai Sugiyama and rising Russians Nadia Petrova and Dinara Safina.
Despite the strength of the field, it was local star and Australian No.2 Sam Stosur who very nearly took the honours narrowly losing in the final to Swiss star and 1999 champion Patty Schnyder.