SINGAPORE, Singapore - Ai Sugiyama, who won six singles titles and 38 doubles titles in her illustrious Sony Ericsson WTA Tour career, will represent tennis as an Athlete Role Model at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, to be held from August 14 to 26 this year in Singapore. The Youth Olympic Tennis Event, for ages 18 and under, will take place at the Kallang Tennis Centre.
Sugiyama, who retired from the Tour at the end of last season, was a four-time Olympian (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) and played Fed Cup for Japan for 12 years, more than any Japanese player in history. She was also named ITF Women's Doubles World Champion with Julie Halard-Decugis in 2000, and was the No.1-ranked junior in the world in May 1991.
Athlete Role Models are Olympians who exemplify Olympic values, both on and off the field of play. During the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, they will connect and talk to the athletes and other young people to share their life stories.
"Ai Sugiyama is the perfect choice to serve as an Athlete Role Model," ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said. "She is the consummate professional who took great pride in playing for Japan. I know that she will be an outstanding representative of tennis and of her country and continent in Singapore."
"I am honored to be selected as an Athlete Role Model," Sugiyama said. "I believe the Youth Olympic Games will be a great event for the young athletes to compete at a grand stage. This should be a great opportunity for the athletes to prepare for their athletic careers. I am looking forward to spending time with the athletes and the other Athlete Role Models to promote the event for the youth."
Singapore will welcome around 5,000 athletes and officials from the 205 National Olympic Committees. Young athletes - aged between 14 and 18 years - will compete in 26 sports. The Youth Olympic Tennis Event will comprise boys' and girls' singles events of 32 players, and boys' and girls' doubles for 16 pairs.