View Full Version : Has the WTA burnt itself out?

Nov 9th, 2002, 12:50 AM
1997-2001 was a golden age in women's tennis. Graf showed a bit of magic. Seles proved she could compete with anyone. Hingis played superb tennis that belied her age. Venus Williams toned down the errors to bring a devastatingly tough brand of tennis to the courts. Serena brought energy, effervescence and a winning smile to the tour. Anna K made a splash on the magazine covers. Jana, Arantxa, Conchi and Nathalie gave the veterans something to cheer. Two Belgians added refreshing personalities. Amelie Mauresmo brought character. And Jen Cap was making her comeback on the backcourts.

Women's tennis had never been rosier. So many personalities and styles to capture the imagination. And where was men's tennis?

So what's gone wrong? The LA championships really appear to be bringing a new message home. Munich had its excuses. First time in Europe, no Venus, Martina or Monica, Lindsay withdrawing from the final. Bad luck one might say. But what excuses are there for LA? Serena is there. Venus is there. Jen, Lindsay and Monica are there. Then there's the Belgians, Daniela, and Jelena.

Is it the lack of rivalry at the top? The sisters are doing their bit for the tour. They're playing strong, hard and thoughtful tennis. Their games are continually improving. Kim is playing better again. But everyone else seems really jaded or injured.

Of the five main components of the WTA revival (Venus, Serena, Martina, Anna K and Jen Cap) three are here, but only two look like taking the title. Only two look happy to be out there. Only two seem to really believe in themselves, that they can win the big ones. Kudos to them, but the gap is getting wider, and the look of hopelessness is written deep on the faces of the principal challengers -Jen, Lindsay, Martina, Kim and Justine.

I really think that the WTA overpushed the tour in 97-01. They changed the rankings system to encourage overplaying - quantity not quality. This caused players to be injured for weeks and months despite being 18-22 years old. Matches often come down to who is most hungry and least tired. Not who is the most skilled at tennis.

Basically, they exploited the short-term golden age of womens tennis at a longer term cost. The improved depth around 97-01 appears to have fallen away to a situation close to 93-96 RIGHT NOW. I really have doubts for the next 2-3 years.

So what do you think? Is the low attendance and media interest in this year's LA Championships indicative of a wider malaise affecting women's tennis right now, and do you think it's gonna get worse? Or do you think LA is a freak blip and not representative of any downturn in women's tennis.

Over to you!

Brian Stewart
Nov 9th, 2002, 01:13 AM
What's happening in LA is a sign of the most inept job of tournament promotion I have ever seen. I put the blame entirely on event "organizers" (for lack of a better term). Last I heard, over a dozen WTA tourneys set attendance records this year. So it is no reflection of the popularity of the tour or its players.

I say, if there aren't sell-out crowds over the weekend, then take the tournament away from them and move it back to MSG. It's obvious from the attendance numbers elsewhere that it's not reflective of the WTA, nor the fans in LA, who come out readily for other WTA events. No one expected the early round day sessions to be sold out by any stretch, but a couple of hundred fans is a friggin' joke.

Nov 9th, 2002, 01:30 AM
It is difficult for me to say that WTA tour is slowing down when many places has achieved record attendance. I personally thought that the year 1999 is a year where the women tennis really reach its peak, and it is true that this eyar I was dissappointed with the tennis in general. However, when the Williams sister final continue to outdraw their rivals, Williams playing dubs outdrew people watchign Lleydon in wimbly final in US, I don't feel it is justified for me to say WTA is burnt out because of LA.

One thing is for sure though, and that is WTA have focus on who they are targeting for when they are promoting a big event, are they gonna aim at coporate people? (evidence by the expensiveness of the tickets) if it is the case, then day session, would not even exist. If they are reaching for young people and general public in general? in that case they should slash all the prices by more than 50%. It is clear from the marketing point of view that they don't have a target audience, and that is what fundamentally wrong in LA

Nov 9th, 2002, 01:33 AM
The tour is fine, but LA has been VERY poorly organised :rolleyes:

Nov 9th, 2002, 01:42 PM
organised or promoted? which do you mean?

Nov 9th, 2002, 01:48 PM
"They changed the rankings system to encourage overplaying"

I always said that rankingthing was a shame, especially the reason behind it. Martina who is the first victim of it should sue them!

Nov 9th, 2002, 01:55 PM
yes, in the period 1989-1996, most top-20 players would play between 10 and 17 tournaments per year, with the very top players tending to go for 12-15. then suddenly, players are now playing 18-25 as the norm, with some going for up to 30. only serena and venus avoided the temptation to play so much at a young age, choosing 10-14 for their first few pro years. and they're still around.

i think WTA saw it had a great product in 97-01, and decided to promote it to the hilt, to the detriment of players' health.

Nov 9th, 2002, 03:13 PM
I live in the LA arae and saw not even one add for the event! They rather have empty seats than bring the price down....

Nov 9th, 2002, 04:35 PM
1999,and 2000 were the golden years what we need is more scandals like Stevenson's mom at Wimbledon in 1999. Damir needs to get drunk again. Hingis needs to throw a tamper tantrum . Someone needs to come out of the closet. A young minority woman needs to win her first slam. What I 'm saying is not that we need the things mentioned but that is what made the tour so popular 1999-2000

Nov 9th, 2002, 05:03 PM
First, ditto Brian Stewart. I've directed and produced rock shows, musicals, plays and I could have gotten bigger crowds than that there by myself with one phone and no money.

However, the players have to take some of the heat. Somebody's head needs to roll, and the players need to step up their commitment to the actual business of the tour. The top players have to realize that the whole SHOW of the season ending chamipionship means a lot every year. In sponsorships and TV revenue. They have to be more media savvy. If Serena had dropped $100,000 on free tickets to poor kids for her first ropund match, the place would have been filled, and Serena looks good on TV to any potential advertisers. The $100,000 comes back in higher endorsement fees. Every college program in America should get freee tickets. The players left this to the management agency, which is IMG or Octagon. And they dropped the ball bad.

And the problem is here in the States, so the American players are the one's who need to step up. Being an elite women's tennis player is respected as long as women's tennis is respected. The Tour Championships in an empty arena doesn't generate respect. The players have to realize that THEY are the WTA, and THEY are responsible. That means they have to schedule so they can do outreach the month before L.A. If that means not playing Zurich or Moscow, that what it means. Serena, Venus, Lindsay, Monica, and Jenn are the people who really need to extend themselves. Especially the California girls.

Two years in a row of crowds like this? In two cities half a world apart? Despite TV ratings that only increase? Despite your stars signing record endorsement deals? Add it up guys. This is betting the rent money on four aces then folding. They had to WORK to fuck up a hand like that.

Please, Richard, buy the fucking tour get this thing moving!

Nov 9th, 2002, 07:35 PM
It's a combination of two things: 1) the season is too long - no one cares about a women's tournament this time of year, including the players, and 2) the L.A. event was poorly promoted, organized, overpriced., etc.

Serendy Willick
Nov 9th, 2002, 08:07 PM
Piss poor management and high ticket prices. Somebody in the WTA needs to do a little economics reasearch and realize that with the economy in America not doing so hot,that noone is gonna pay that much to see tennis, even if they have Anna K playing butt naked to the title.;)

Nov 9th, 2002, 08:11 PM
"...Anna K playing butt naked to the title."


Nov 9th, 2002, 10:02 PM
one reason that make the LA is not as interesting as it should be, usually the last tournament of the year is the decisive tournament who's going to end the year as #1. But this year we all already knows that Serena will end the year at the top of the ranking before it started and even if she didn't play the LA she still be the number 1. So some(most) people does't bother to care and come to see!!!!