The WTA is the world's leading professional sport for women with over 2,200 players representing 96 nations competing for over $86 million in prize money at 53 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. More than 4.8 million people attended women's tennis events in 2008 with millions more watching events on television networks around the world.
The 2010 season finishes with the WTA Championships - Istanbul 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 25 to 30, and the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia, from November 3 to 6.
THE WTA STORY
Billy Jean King and her group of eight other renegades were revolutionary by 1970s standards. A full two years ahead of the passage of Title IX in the United States, they envisioned a better future for women's tennis.
In September 1970, the birth of women's professional tennis was launched when nine players signed $1 contracts with World Tennis publications publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in a newly created Virginia Slims Series. The Original 9, as they were called, included King, Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss and Julie Heldman.
Heldman, along with her friend Joe Cullman from Philip Morris and several others, provided women's professional tennis the opportunity the Original 9 and so many others sought. The inaugural $7,500 Virginia Slims of Houston was established on September 23, 1970 and it was the event that became the groundbreaker for all others.
1971 - The Virginia Slims Series debuted with 19 tournaments, with a total purse of $309,100 on offer in the United States and Billie Jean King the first female athlete to cross the six-figure mark in season earnings
1973 - King founded the Women's Tennis Association, uniting all of women's professional tennis in one tour. The WTA was borne out of a meeting held in a room at the Gloucester Hotel in London the week before Wimbledon; the US Open, for the first time, offered equal prize money to the men and women.
1974 - The WTA signed the first television broadcast contract in the history of the Association (with CBS).
1975 - The Virginia Slims Series was streamlined to an 11-week Tour of the US, concluding at the end of March. The first official rankings appeared and were used to determine acceptance into tournaments.
1976 - Colgate assumed sponsorship of the Tour events from April to November for four years; at the Palm Springs event, Chris Evert became the first female athlete to cross $1 million in career earnings.
1977 - New York's Madison Square Garden hosted the season-ending Championships for the first time.
1979 - Avon, replacing Virginia Slims as winter circuit sponsor, offered a record $100,000 to the winner of the season-ending Avon Championship.
1980 - By now over 250 women were playing professionally all over the world in a Tour consisting of 47 global events, offering a total of $7.2 million in prize money.
1982 - Martina Navratilova became the first woman to earn over $1 million in a season.
1983 - Virginia Slims returned, replacing Avon and Toyota to sponsor the first unified Circuit of more than $10 million.
1984 - Navratilova received a $1-million bonus from the ITF for winning Roland Garros and thus holding all four Grand Slam singles crowns at the same time, having won Wimbledon and the US and Australian Opens in 1983 (Steffi Graf would later do so in 1988 and 1993-94); Navratilova crossed the $2-million mark in season earnings, more than men's No.1 John McEnroe; the Australian Open joined the US Open in offering the women's event equal prize money (temporarily did not between 1996-2000).
1986 - Navratilova passed $10 million in career earnings by winning the US Indoors.
1988 - Graf became the second woman in the Open Era to complete a calendar year Grand Slam, and made it a 'Golden Grand Slam' by winning the Olympic title in Seoul.
1990 - Another Philip Morris company, Kraft General Foods, replaced Slims after 15 years of loyal sponsorship; the Tour's prize purse increased to $23 million and concluded the season at Madison Square Garden, in New York, with the first-ever $1-million tournament in women's sports; Navratilova won a record ninth Wimbledon singles title.
1991 - Monica Seles became only the second player to pass the $2-million mark in season earnings and would better men's leader Stefan Edberg in '91 and '92.
1995 - The WTA Players Association merged with the Women's Tennis Council to form the WTA Tour, and after Seles' inspiring return to the sport in the summer, the Corel software corporation came on as title sponsor at the end of the year; prize money of the season-ending Championships doubled to $2 million.
1997 - On March 30, Martina Hingis became the fastest player ever to win $1 million in a season and a day later became the youngest-ever world No. 1, ending Graf's record reign (for men and women) of 377 total weeks.
1998 - By winning Leipzig, Graf eclipsed Navratilova's all-time prize money record of $20.3 million.
1999 - After 17 years, Graf retired from the Tour with 22 Grand Slam singles titles and a record $21,895,277 in career earnings.
2000 - Sanex bodycare products came on board as the Tour's title sponsor for three years; after 22 consecutive years, Madison Square Garden hosted its last season-ending Championships.
2001 - The Australian Open returned to equal prize money and overall Tour prize money increased to $50 million in 63 events, including the first-ever Middle Eastern Tour events in Doha, Qatar, and Dubai, UAE; Munich hosted the season-ending Championships; Jennifer Capriati a fairytale return to the sport by winning her first two career Grand Slam titles and rising to No.1 in October.
2002 - The Williams sisters fulfilled their father's prophecy by becoming the No.1 players in the world, first Venus in February, then Serena in July. Serena won three majors, defeating her older sister in each final; Los Angeles hosted the season-ending Championships for the first time since 1976.
2003 - The "Get In Touch With Your Feminine Side" marketing campaign was launched, the Tour's most significant branding effort in its history; Serena Williams won the Australian Open to complete the "Serena Slam" while Kim Clijsters became the first female athlete to earn $4 million in season earnings.
2004 - Dubai Duty Free became Presenting Sponsor of the Middle East/Asia-Pacific region, while Whirlpool came on board as European Premier Sponsor; the season will be remembered as the year of the Russian emergence, with Anastasia Myskjna, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova their nation's first Grand Slam singles titles.
2005 - Sony Ericsson became the Tour's worldwide title sponsor in a landmark $88-million, six-year deal, the largest and most comprehensive sponsorship in the history of tennis and of women's professional sport. As winner of the US Open Series, Clijsters earns double prize money for winning the US Open; her $2.2 million prize cheque was the single biggest payday in women's sports and in any official tennis event, men's or women's.
2006 - Worldwide title sponsor Sony Ericsson unveiled several game-changing innovations designed to make the sport more fan-friendly and interactive (such as electronic line-calling and on-court coaching); a landmark partnership with USANA Health Sciences and Travelex were announced, along with the extension of the Tour's partnership with Eurosport/Regency into 2011, becoming the largest TV deal in the history of women's tennis; European Premier Sponsor Whirlpool extended its agreement for three years; Navratilova ended her 32-year career in which she amassed more titles than any other female or male player; a global partnership with UNESCO was announced to advance gender equality and promote women's leadership in society.
2007 - The Board of Directors approved the Roadmap circuit reform, the most sweeping changes in our history which will include a shorter season, fan-friendly structure and 40 percent increase in Tour prize money (from 2009); the historic achievement of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon meant that following a 30-year campaign that began with King, all four majors offered parity for the first time; after two successful years in Madrid, the Tour announced the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships would move to Doha, Qatar, for 2008-2010 and to Istanbul, Turkey, from 2011-13; Justine Henin became the first woman to earn $5 million in a single season.
2008 - Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the WTA unveiled the largest advertising campaign in its history, with the Looking For A Hero? campaign launched on the eve of Wimbledon. The WTA's Asia-Pacific headquarters opened in Beijing, China, complementing offices in St Petersburg, FL-USA and London, England. Dubai Duty Free announced an extension of its sponsorship through 2011. Henin became the first player to retire while ranked world No.1, saying goodbye to tennis at the age of 25. A record five women held the No.1 ranking during the season (Henin, Sharapova, Ivanovic, Jankovic, S.Williams), while Doha, Qatar, made a successful debut as host of the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.
2009 - Off the court, Stacey Allaster succeeded Larry Scott as chairman and CEO of the WTA Tour, while on court the historic Roadmap circuit reforms became a reality. Serena Williams secured the year-end No.1 during the WTA Championships - Doha, while she became the first player in history to earn more than $6 million in prize money in a single season. Carolin Wozniacki reached a Tour-leading eight finals, winning three of them. The 53 titles were won by 34 different players, producing 13 first-time champions and proving the depth of women's tennis. Clijsters stormed out of retirement and won the US Open in only her third tournament back.
2010 - The WTA celebrated the 40th anniversary of women's professional tennis, marking four decades of unprecedented growth and an increase in annual prize money from $309,100 to $85 million. Serena Williams collected two more Grand Slam titles but it was Wozniacki who secured the year-end No.1 ranking after picking up six titles. Clijsters was crowned champion at the WTA Championships - Doha after picking up her third, and second consecutive, US Open singles crown. Henin made a comeback from retirement and soared to No.12, while Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian to win a Grand Slam title with victory at Roland Garros. Sony Ericsson renewed its sponsorship with a two-year extension, while new sponsorship deals were signed with Oriflame, as official cosmetics partner, Jetstar airlines and Peak as tennis apparel provider in Asia-Pacific.
Chairman and CEO: Stacey Allaster
Chief Administrative Officer: Matthew Cenedella
General Counsel: Diana Myers
Chief Marketing Officer: Andrew Walker
Senior Vice President: Peter Johnston
Managing Director: Fabrice Chouquet
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Tournament Class Directors:
Player Class Directors:
Federation Class Director:
Grand Slams (4)
WTA Tour Championship (1)
Premier Mandatory (4)
Premier 5 (5)
Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions (1)