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Venus aces Auckland with shock approach <br />Source: Sunday Star-Times - Wellington <br />Publication date: 2001-12-02 <br />Arrival time: 2001-12-04

TENNIS <br />Andrew Sanders

THE power act of women's tennis, Venus Williams, was offered to New Zealand's major pro tournament 48 hours after it signed darling of the courts Anna Kournikova.

The ASB Bank Classic has courted the superstars of the WTA tour for years but never landed a big name. Suddenly tournament director Richard Palmer found himself going from rags to riches.

Williams is arguably the best player in women's tennis. The 21- year-old is the Wimbledon and US Open champion and was a semifinalist at the Australian Open. Her ranking of No 3 in the world, behind Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati, is a reflection of an anorexic tournament schedule rather than her talent.

Palmer was stunned when he walked into Auckland Tennis, which runs the ASB Bank Classic, and among emails from players wanting visas was one from the American's managers.

"We got an email from IMG who look after her and it was: `Are you interested?'," he said.

"I looked at it and went `wow'."

It sparked a series of meetings at Auckland Tennis and hurried calls to the commercial sector but the cost of having both Kournikova and Williams at the Classic in the same year proved prohibitive.

"We reluctantly had to say we would love to have her here but it's not possible because we have just secured Kournikova," Palmer said.

In women's tennis, where appearance fees are a no-no but everyone knows they occur, Williams is one of the most expensive.

At bigger overseas tournaments, she commands fees of $US200,000 to $US250,000 ($NZ470,000 to $600,000). Even a discounted Williams fee for Auckland would likely have been higher than the total prizemoney of $US140,000.

Given that Kournikova's price tag would have been in the $150,000- $200,000 range, it is no wonder the Classic had to back off.

However, the signing of Kournikova and the approach from Williams signals the Classic is stepping up. If the books at least break even on the Kournikova trip, and the tournament's prebookings are the best they have ever been, Auckland Tennis is likely to have the confidence to chase even harder after the big names.

The appearance of such players will increase the tournament's credibility and help secure sponsorship. The latest three-year sponsorship by the ASB Bank ends at the completion of the Classic on January 5.

Palmer was told Williams wanted to play a tournament in the first week of the year, thus her interest in Auckland. She was obviously serious because a week after the Auckland approach she was confirmed as an entrant at the rival Gold Coast tournament.

The Williams expression of interest, if it had come earlier when Kournikova hadn't been signed, could have sparked a massive decision for Auckland Tennis.

It would have been able to chose only one of the players and yet both are huge drawcards. Kournikova's pulling power extends beyond the tennis courts while Williams is one of the most athletic players to have played the game.

However, Williams has a history of pulling out of tournaments.

Auckland Tennis, having had one approach from Williams, would almost certainly approach her agents ahead of the 2003 event.
 

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Well after this, there best be not one person have ago at martina for playing Dubai last year again <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> .

The facts and Greed speak for themselves.

At least Martina was doing something useful for the sport, by spreading it's profile to middle-east countries. All Venus seems to have wanted was a bit of match play and a heap of appearance money. Shame.

[ December 07, 2001: Message edited by: Adrian ]</p>
 

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Venus is really serious about OZ. I hope one warm-up is enough.
 

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Everyone gets paid for playing Adrian.

I LOVE Martina and all, but I don;t think she played in the middle-east because she was trying to spread tennis. Although playing in Dubai was a really good trip for her, she won, and wore that princess outfit which was really nice to see.

[ December 07, 2001: Message edited by: Sam_Forever ]</p>
 

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Well Imho Venus really wants to play an OZ warm-up so this is a very good sign for her fans and for tennis.

Adrian I am still laughing at Hingis entering Doha and Dubai .. lmao <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> You know it is funny.. and her get up that she wore.. I also remenber many people saying that she did it for no money at all. yeah right!! <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 

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Venus is serious about her tennis this year. She is going to win the Aussie Open after this warm-up tourny <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">

And her appearance money, 10% goes to charity. So it is good for her to recieve more <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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Dawn, I posted that for one reason and one reason only, to get you lot to wake up and and go and for Venus before she loses. <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">
 

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Yeah... get the hint?? *nudge nudge*!!!
 

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Do you think they have got it yet Williams_Rulez? <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
 

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Pffft... they are being dense.
 

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Venus is doomed... <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" />
 

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Yep, Lindsay won. Do I still get to keep the 2nd porsche? <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
 

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Sure...have them all if you want <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">
 

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I would have thought that Venus could have asked for a smaller fee if she really wanted the match practice ahead of the Aussie Open. She is not exactly strapped for cash is she!
 

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Just out of curiosity, how was she going to play 2 warm up events before the Oz if she played here??

Especially when Auckland and the Gold Coast are played the same week <img src="confused.gif" border="0">

So if she wanted to play 2 warm up events, she still can..
 

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good point ajayares......

c. Two New Tournaments<br />Gold Exempt Players must commit to two (2) Tournaments in which they have not participated during the previous two (2) years.

<br /> Thats why Martina Hingis played Doha/Dubai.

<br /> For Venus to play here she will need the approval of the WTA Tour as a Gold Exempt Player.

This tourn will not count towards her Player Commitment Contract regarding Bonus Pool Payments as its only a Tier IV

e. Tier III/IV/V Playdown Rules <br />1) In a week where there is no Tier I or II Tournament scheduled opposite a Tier III, IV or V Tournament:<br />a. Gold Exempt Players listed 1-6 may play down provided that the player appeals in writing at least 14 days in advance of the Tournament and receives approval from the Sanex WTA Tour Senior Vice President of Tour Operations & Player Operations and Player Relations. If a Gold Exempt Player listed 1-6 plays down in a Tier III Tournament, it may count as one of her Tournaments on her minimum commitment schedule if approved by the Senior Vice President of Tour Operations & Player Operations and Player Relations.

2) In a week when there is no Tier I or II Tournament scheduled and a Tier III, IV or V event is scheduled the same week:<br />a. Gold Exempt Players may not play down in the Tier IV or V event unless <br />Player Commitment has been met at the Tier III event by the end of the preceding year’s Championships
 

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Well after this, there best be not one person have ago at martina for playing Dubai last year again .<br />The facts and Greed speak for themselves.

At least Martina was doing something useful for the sport, by spreading it's profile to middle-east countries. All Venus seems to have wanted was a bit of match play and a heap of appearance money. Shame.<hr></blockquote>

<br />Are you for real Adrian??? Do you actually believe that outside of Egypt ,women in any of the other middle eastern states would be allowed to play tennis?? Heck, the tennis world knows that Martina only went to dubai and doha for the massive appearance fees she was offered and also to protect her ranking . So don't pretend that she went to spread her tennis sunshine to that part of the world...

Let's face it, women's tennis will never grow in the middle east unless the sexist men change their attitudes... I bet there were no women in the crowd watching the matches-- and none of the Sheiks rushed out to buy racquets and tennis outfits for their daughters....

If you think that Venus is the only player getting the big fees , you are seriously mistaken <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">
 

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Infiniti:

Regarding Middle-Eastern players playing tennis, Mouhtassine is from Morocco (Casablanca hosted a tournament!), and Sfar is from Tunisia.

Sam:

A minor nitpick -- Hingis got to ride in on the horse and wear the dress at Doha. It was a classy title ceremony, however. <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 
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