St Petersburg, Fla. -- The WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) announced Tuesday a strategic partnership with CVC (CVC Capital Partners). This exciting new partnership will build upon the strong legacy the WTA has established over the past 50 years, with the objective to further elevate the profile of women’s tennis and to accelerate commercial growth for the benefit of the fans, players, tournaments and other stakeholders in the game.
Founded by Billie Jean King in 1973 on the principle of equal opportunity, the WTA has built tennis to be the global leader in women’s professional sports with a worldwide audience of nearly 900 million. The Hologic WTA Tour consists of players representing approximately 80 nations, competing in over 70 tournaments across six continents every year. Players compete to earn WTA ranking points, prestigious tournament titles and to reach the WTA Finals and the four Grand Slams. It is one of the few sports today in which women and men compete on the same stage.
CVC brings 25 years of experience investing in sports to this new partnership, with former and current investments in Formula One, Moto GP, Rugby, the French Football League, La Liga, Volleyball and IPL Cricket. CVC also brings access to a broad international network of 25 local offices across Europe, Australasia and the Americas, which will be available to support the accelerated commercial growth of the sport.
Commencing in 2023, CVC will be WTA’s commercial partner, investing capital indirectly via its managed funds and acting as a catalyst to drive growth of the sport. Key focus areas include providing fans with more access to the sport, investing behind the tour brands, building player and tournament profiles and investing in digital platforms and commercial capabilities. The WTA will continue to own the majority interest in the partnership and retain full regulatory and sporting responsibility for the women’s game.
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 favorite players through the year. 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.
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO said: “I am excited for the next chapter of the WTA whose future will continue to push the growth of women’s professional tennis. 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.”
Iga Swiatek, WTA World No.1 stated: “I am proud to be a part of the WTA, as they are committed to innovating the sport, investing in the players, and promoting us all over the world. I’m inspired to be a part of the evolution of women’s tennis and building out the next 50 years of the WTA.”
Jessica Pegula, WTA World No.4 and member of the WTA Players’ Council said: “This is exactly what women’s tennis needs and I’m excited for what’s to come. For so long, we’ve been championing the sport for women across the world and it’s great to have the investment and belief in the players and WTA product.”
Gavin Ziv, WTA Board Member and Chief Tournaments Officer at Tennis Canada said: “This is great news for all of us committed to women’s tennis. The WTA is constantly expanding, and this investment means the opportunity for further global reach than ever before. We also want to make it easier for the fans to follow the players they love, and we believe we can bring in the necessary changes to make this all a possibility. It’s a win-win for all involved.”
Gemma Wright, Senior Managing Director in the Media & Entertainment team at CVC added: “Tennis is the number one professional women’s sport in the world, with a huge fan base and commercial opportunity. WTA and CVC will work together to innovate, grow fan engagement, and the revenues of the WTA, which we can then reinvest back into the game. We could not be more excited to be supporting women’s tennis and look forward to working closely together with the WTA to grow the sport globally, in collaboration with the players, tournaments and other stakeholders in the sport.”
Private investment bank Allen & Company LLC and international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP advised the WTA. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP advised CVC Capital Partners.