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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 11:11 PM   #1
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Post STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradition

many interesting insights in this interview, including why there are less $125k in China in 2015 than there were in 2014

basically she says she only killed off Suzhou and Ningbo to allow other Chinese ITFs to upgrade to $125k

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/904923.shtml



Since Li Na's retirement last year, rumors have swirled around the number of women's tennis fans declining in China, but WTA chief Stacey Allaster believes the sport is still growing due to its solid 42-year-old history as well as the benefits Li brings.

Over the past season, ticket sales for the Wuhan Open, a WTA Premier 5 event, and the China Open, a WTA's Premier Mandatory event, reportedly suffered hits after Li *suddenly retired.

"WTA has been a business for 42 years, and it has a solid foundation not built on one player. Players wouldn't be competing for the $130 million prize money if the entire foundation was just on one player," Allaster said of the Li's retirement in an exclusive interview with the Global Times.

"But there will never be another Li Na. She's truly special, and has inspired thousands of young girls to play."

The two-time Grand Slam winner announced at the Australian Open that she is pregnant.

Allaster, who has served as WTA chairperson since 2009, believes Li's achievements have brought more success to the sport.

"I have a lot of confidence, over the horizon, there'll be more young girls stepping into her shoes," *Allaster said.

Currently, there are four Chinese players in the top 100 of the WTA rankings.

Peng Shuai leads the list at 22nd, followed by Zhang Shuai (63), Zheng Saisai (79) and Zheng Jie (100).

Zheng Jie reached the Australian Open women's doubles final, pairing with Chinese Taipei's Chan Yung-jan.

Greater flexibility

The number of WTA events to be held in China remains at 10, but there are signs of further progress.

China's southern city of Zhuhai is set to host the inaugural $2.15 *million WTA Elite Trophy tournament, which features a 12-player singles field consisting of players ranked between No.9 and No.20 along with one wild card, after the WTA Finals.

After opening a Beijing office in 2008 as its headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region, the WTA struck up a close partnership with the *Chinese government and tennis associations, allowing the sport to thrive in the region with audience numbers and participation levels soaring.

Back in 2011, only two WTA events were held in China, but this year Chinese fans can expect eight on the mainland, with Hong Kong and Taipei ones bringing the number to 10.

"We're always considering opportunities for more events in China where it fits with our *calendar, but we are always careful about adding more," Allaster said.

"I don't think I'd have forecast we'd have eight events [on the Chinese mainland] a few years ago."

Romanian Simona Halep won the Shenzhen Open at the start of the season, with the other three WTA International events - in Guangzhou, Tianjin and Hong Kong - waiting for new champions to be crowned.

In 2014, four WTA 125K *Series events - the second highest level of women's tennis below the *top-tier WTA Tour, and just above the ITF Women's Circuit *tournaments - were also held in China: in *Nanchang, Suzhou, Ningbo and Taipei.

Suzhou and Ningbo will not host the 125K events this year as the WTA is seeking more flexibility for the series.

"It's down on an annual basis to provide flexibility to the local tennis association, government, *promoters," Allaster told the Global Times.

"Some of the ITF events want to upgrade. There's always an opportunity for those tournaments to upgrade."


She added that the WTA's target for the 125K Series is to have 10 events in 2020.

Strategic priority

In 2014, 17 WTA tournaments out of 58 took place in the Asia-*Pacific region. The region has become the WTA's strategic priority.

"Our history is very deep in North America, a lot of tradition in Europe, and those events are doing *incredibly well, they are the foundation of the WTA, but we are looking for growth," Allaster said.

"Look at the GDP growth of many countries in this region, you can't ignore China, you have to be here, and other countries in the Asia Pacific."

The WTA had relocated its year-end WTA Championship from *Istanbul to Singapore and rebranded it as the WTA Finals, noting the *significance of the Asia-Pacific region.

Though the region just lost an active star in women's tennis, *Japanese male athlete Kei Nishikori is expected to be the new flag-bearer of tennis in the region.

Nishikori reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park but was knocked out by 2014 Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori now ranks fifth in the ATP rankings.

"Men's success helps women's tennis, and women's tennis' successfully helps men's tennis," *Allaster said.

"It's great in this region to have Asian stars ... It is exciting for Kei to be an ambassador for tennis."

For the majority of fans, watching every single tennis match seems unlikely. But the WTA is working on ways to improve the fan experience.

In December, the WTA announced a ground-breaking 10-year broadcast agreement of more than $525 million with Perform Group, one of the world's leading digital sports content group.

From 2017, all main-draw singles matches and the semifinals and finals of all doubles matches will be live-streamed by the group, Allaster said.

A multi-platform distribution app for WTA is also expected to come to fans next year, she added.
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 11:14 PM   #2
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Superstar Na Li


blablablabla

Stacey, just give a walkover
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 11:17 PM   #3
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Superstar Na Li

Chris Kermode is having a real laugh.
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 11:18 PM   #4
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Superstar Na Li

Of course the tour will survive just like it survived when King, Court, Navratilova, Evert, Seles Graf all retired. It will survive without the Williams sisters as well. Let's be brutally honest outside of Asia I'm not sure you can classified Li Na as a superstar.
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 11:20 PM   #5
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Basically Ningbo and Suzhou said bye after Li Na retired.
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 11:23 PM   #6
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Sounds like she is quickly changing her tune on China. The thing about the Chinese $125ks is political BS, they didn't work having so many in China and that is why there is less of them. No current $75k or $100k is going to want to upgrade to waste an extra 50 or 25k to get the same field.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 12:52 AM   #7
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

125k's are irrelevant. If China gov wants to develop young players, they need tournaments. Those players need WCs, they need points and experience.
Its the same as what the US does. You have to get your young players into WTA level tournaments.
The WTA could use young stars from China or India. There is incredible upside there.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 12:57 AM   #8
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Zheng Jie is still in the top 100??
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 01:54 AM   #9
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sammy01 View Post
Sounds like she is quickly changing her tune on China. The thing about the Chinese $125ks is political BS, they didn't work having so many in China and that is why there is less of them. No current $75k or $100k is going to want to upgrade to waste an extra 50 or 25k to get the same field.


what was her old tune
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:08 AM   #10
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Although I did not think LI Na retirement would have a negative impact on the WTA, I agree with the the below statement

Quote:
In 2014, 17 WTA tournaments out of 58 took place in the Asia-*Pacific region. The region has become the WTA's strategic priority.

"Our history is very deep in North America, a lot of tradition in Europe, and those events are doing *incredibly well, they are the foundation of the WTA, but we are looking for growth," Allaster said.

A lot of posters who have thought that the expansion of the sport outside of Europe and North America is misguided because those other areas, read Asia (China) do not have a tradition of tennis.
The question to them is.
Would they rather see the sport die than expand to new markets?

I do think giving too much weight to tradition can become counter productive by slowing progress.

When it started, Australia Open was not respected because it did not have tradition behind it.
But credit to Tennis Australia, they went to work and did every thing possible to win the respect of fans and tennis establishment.
Incidentally, if Tennis Australia was as deferential to traditions as RG and Wimbledon are , they would not have made the positive changes they have: change surface when they got feedback from the players that the combination of surface and the heat were hurting the tournament.
Aussie open also did not hesitate to go ahead with plans to cover more than 1 court.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 11:36 AM   #11
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Allaster
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 11:50 AM   #12
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaisons View Post
Basically Ningbo and Suzhou said bye after Li Na retired.
It's not like Li Na was ever going to play those events.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 12:16 PM   #13
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Star Na Li,Look For Growth Over Tradi

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Originally Posted by njnetswill View Post
It's not like Li Na was ever going to play those events.
But without her, no Chinese will be interested in tennis to show up and watch.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 12:53 PM   #14
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Old Feb 22nd, 2015, 02:55 PM   #15
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Re: STACEY Interview: XWTA Will Survive Without Superstar Na Li

Quote:
Originally Posted by Newlander View Post
Chris Kermode is having a real laugh.
He has recently announced that the ATP has received offers from four different regions that are interested in hosting the ATP finals after the contract with London expires.
Canada, China, Japan and South East Asia...
I bet he will choose either Canada or Tokyo, especially if Nishikori and Raonic continue to do so well.
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