WTA may have to find a new sponsor

July 3rd, 2008 - 6:36 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 3 (IANS) The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which became the richest association in women’s sport three years ago with Sony Ericsson as its title sponsor, is waging a losing battle to convince the mobile telephone company to renew its contract. The joint-venture company, which had signed a $93.3 million deal with the WTA, has two more years of its contract to run, and it is highly unlikely to go beyond 2010, reports The Guardian.

The WTA sources say that there has been changes at the top of the Sony Ericcson with its chief executive Miles Flint leaving the company and Dee Dutta, the architect of the deal to support women’s tennis, also set to quit as global head of marketing.

Although the company is expected to maintain its links with the tour championships finals in Doha and the Sony Ericsson Open tournament, the WTA will have to go to market for a major new sponsor amid a worsening global economic downturn.

What will make the task harder for the WTA’s commercial team is the lukewarm approach to tour events of its most marketable stars. Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, the Williams sisters and Jelena Jankovic all pulled out of the pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournaments in Eastbourne and Birmingham.

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