WTA aiming for higher prize money, better commercial rights, calendar change after investment announcement

CVC Capital Partners are taking a 20 percent stake for a reported $150 million

Steve Simon © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

On Tuesday, the WTA announced it had sold a 20 percent stake to CVC Capital Partners, an investment company with a long history in sport.

According to the New York Times, the stake is worth $150 million and WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon said it would enable the WTA to boost its commercial growth, including sponsorship, data and broadcasting rights.

“I am excited for the next chapter of the WTA whose future will continue to push the growth of women’s professional tennis,” Simon said, in a statement on the WTA Tour website. “It is truly fitting that we are celebrating 50 years of the WTA alongside the introduction of this landmark and historic opportunity.

“This partnership with CVC brings experience, a network and capital to move our sport to the next level, embracing the ambition of our founding members, urging women’s tennis beyond its barriers and pioneering new standards for a more equitable and valuable sport.”

Increased prize money on the cards

Buried in the statement were some hints about the calendar, a subject likely to be in the news in the coming weeks as the WTA tries to replace its China swing, with the Peng Shuai situation still not rectified.

“This WTA and CVC partnership has the backing of the players and tournaments, with critical changes to the tour calendar planned that will make it easier for fans to follow their favourite players through the year,” the statement read. “The ambition is to materially grow women’s tennis — its profile, value and prize money, for the benefit of the players, tournaments and its fans.”

Simon told The New York Times he expected to see prize money increases quickly.

“You certainly will see a plan with respect to that, which will be forthcoming,” he said.

“To tell the story and to build the brand and to get directly to the consumer, which are some of the key things I think we have to do a better job of than we do today to enhance the commercial results,” he said. “As we improve the commercial results, things like player compensation become a lot easier discussion.”

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