The Hologic WTA Tour has come a long way from its inception in 1973 to becoming the leading women's professional sport in the world. As the WTA and Hologic embark on a landmark partnership introducing Hologic as the global title sponsor of the WTA Tour, the multiyear alliance aims to achieve significant progress through a shared vision of greater wellness and equality for women.
"At Hologic, we care so deeply about championing for the health and equality of women, and when we began our conversations, it just made perfect sense," said Lisa Hellmann, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Communications for Hologic, at a media breakfast at the BNP Paribas Open. "There is so much that we can do together and I am so excited to be doing instead of just planning now."
Based in Massachusetts, Hologic is a women's health company and medical technology company that has pioneered 3-D mammography and developed market-leading tests for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.
"Our whole reason for being is early detection and prevention of disease," Hellmann said. "We are thrilled to be able to get the message of early detection and prevention out to the globe, especially now after COVID, when so many women have let their annual screening slide. And we're seeing now a significant uptick in breast cancer diagnoses and cervical cancer diagnoses because those tests have gone undone for two years. That we've got this amazing platform and all of these amazing voices to tell our story is just such, we're very, very grateful for that.
The theme of the importance of early detection was hammered home by WTA Legend and doubles champion Pam Shriver, who spoke of her good friends and competitors Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
"Where we've come a long way is taking our health much more seriously," Shriver said. "Chris Evert delivered an incredibly powerful message on ESPN.com right before the Australian Open, that thanks to some genetic testing of her late sister, Jeannie, who also played the WTA Tour and who'd passed away of ovarian cancer a couple of years ago, they did some further genetic testing on her cells in her blood and realized that in fact, the siblings could be vulnerable to the BRCA gene.
"So Chrissy immediately went in and did all of the tests, all of the screening, and as a result found out that she had Stage One ovarian cancer. Our great champion is in the middle of a six-session chemotherapy, and she's taking care of herself like the champion that she is.
"Also my partner of 10 years. Martina Navratilova, quite a few years ago, went through breast cancer because of early detection. I think it's over 10 years post-diagnosis and she's living a healthy life."
WTA Player Council representatives Jessica Pegula and Christina McHale also highlighted the seamless nature of the partnership and the excitement from the current player group.
"First, I thought it was a perfect fit and made sense," Pegula said. "It's been such a big conversation in recent years of championing women's health and just their well-being. Everyone in the room was super, super excited, just how awesome of a fit it was and how excited we are to have something that we all truly believe in. Just to keep putting a spotlight on women's health and trying to figure out ways where we, the athletes, can help out as well.
"I think we were all just beyond excited. And I can say on behalf of the whole council and the board and everything, everyone thought it was a perfect fit and I think I can't wait to get it going into what we can do."
Hologic has worked with the WTA at the BNP Paribas Open to provide full physicals and screenings for the players. Over 100 players have taken part in the four-hour physicals, which include internal medicine, skeletal exams, cardiac exams and dermatology exams. The partnership with Hologic will allow the screenings to be held on an annual basis.
"This is it would have been impossible without Hologic and we did it every other year," WTA President Micky Lawler said. "Now we can do it every year and we can do a very thorough job. Our players put their bodies to the test day in, day out. They travel a lot and that has an impact as well.
"So we think that this is a business case that we can take to market, that we can take to other countries where one athlete moves a lot of audience and really reaches a lot of people. It can be very impactful."
Hellman agreed: "As a global sport and as an organization that has players and legends, you can tell great stories," she said. "That's how people learn. So the more people we can read with the stories, with the experiences, that's what's going to connect and get somebody else to say, 'I should take care of my health too.'"