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  Topic Review (Newest First)
Mar 17th, 2003 05:37 PM
Williams Sisters Reach Record-Setting Racquet Deal With Wilson

Williams Sisters Reach Record-Setting Racquet Deal With Wilson

By Richard Pagliaro

The Williams sisters have surpassed Pete Sampras for a tennis top spot. Serena and Venus have agreed to a new three year racquet endorsement contract with Wilson that will make them the highest-paid Wilson racquet endorsers in history, eclipsing 14-time Grand Slam champion Sampras, who has played with a Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 since he was a teenager.

It is a racquet deal well worth framing for the Williams sisters, who have met in four consecutive Grand Slam finals with Serena winning all four of those meetings.

According to a published report in the current SportsBusiness Journal, written by Daniel Kaplan, the new pact will pay both Venus and Serena between $900,000 and $1 million annually, which makes them the highest paid female racquet endorsers in history (according to the SportsBusiness Journal, Anna Kournikova earns about $750,000 annually from her racquet deal with Yonnex) and the second-highest paid racquet endorsers in tennis, trailing only Andre Agassi.

"The deal is just about finished," Williams sisters' attorney Keven Davis told Kaplan.

It is a significant signing for Wilson and represents a sizeable salary increase for the sisters, whose previous three-year deal with Wilson paid them about $190,000 a year. That contract expired shortly before the start of the 2002 U.S. Open. As reports surfaced that Wilson's initial offer presented a modest monetary increase there was growing speculation that the sisters would sign with Head, which features Agassi, Gustavo Kuerten, Marat Safin and Jelena Dokic among its roster of player endorsers, but lacks a female player with the prominent presence of either Venus or Serena.

With many major racquet companies reporting declining sales, Wilson's re-signing of the Williamses represents a coup for the company.

"(The signing) is great news for us and important to our entire company on a worldwide basis," Wilson vice president Jon Embree told Kaplan. Embree did not disclose details of the contract, but confirmed it would make the Grand Slam sisters the highest-paid racquet endorsers in Wilson history.

Jon Embree, a Wilson vice president, described the signings as "great news for us and important to our entire company on a worldwide basis."

Both Venus and Serena currently play with the Wilson Hyper Hammer, but will be encouraged to demo and switch to the H-Series racquet that the company plans to launch later this year, Embree told the SportsBusiness Journal.

Top-ranked Serena Williams may soon be cashing in on a new clothing endorsement deal. Her existing contract with Puma expired on Friday and her representatives are reportedly negotiating a new deal.

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