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Larry Scott, Final Press Conference, June 25, 2009
   

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Interview with Larry Scott
June 25, 2009
Wimbledon, England

Final Press Conference as CEO of Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

THE MODERATOR:  Good morning.  We have the chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Larry Scott.

            LARRY SCOTT:  Thank you.  Good morning, everyone.  Pleased to be here with you for what will be my final press conference as chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

            I know this fortnight is about star tennis players playing on one of our sport's greatest stages, so I appreciate you indulging me for a few minutes as I'm preparing to leave our sport to reflect a little bit on the milestones, trends in women's tennis, and for the tour looking back, but also looking forward.

            Pleased to be doing this at Wimbledon, given that Wimbledon has been a very special place, not just for the sport, but for me personally, not only as a player, but also as an executive.  Got a lot of great memories and friends here at the club.

            This interview room in particular has been the site of many player meetings over the years where there have been interesting discussions.  But I'll also remember November 2006.  It was here that I was invited to present to the All England Club Committee of Management the case for equal prize money.  Took place in this room.  Met with their board here in this room, so it's got a special place in history of women's tennis as well.

            Before I begin, share some thoughts and then take your questions, I just want to also thank the media for your support over the years.  The media have always felt ‑‑ played such a critical role in terms of promoting the sport and will play a critical role for the sport going forward.  I want to thank you for your support of me, and support of the tour over the years.

            Really want to share some reflections on three areas as I look back on where women's tennis has had its greatest impact and achievement over the years, the areas that lead me to believe that women's tennis is in the strongest position it's been in and is poised for growth in the future.

            When I look back, I'm particularly proud of how women's tennis has on the one hand broken barriers, increased the popularity of the sport, and enjoyed great financial growth and is in the strongest financial position that it's been in.

            Breaking barriers.  The history of women's tennis is very much founded on a pioneering spirit and a challenger mentality led by Billie Jean King when she started the tour.  There's always been a challenge of the status quo and historic milestones during the history of women's tennis.  I'm proud to talk about several barriers that have been broken the last few years.

            As we're aware, in 2007, Wimbledon made the historic decision to pay equal prize money to the women.  Roland Garros followed shortly thereafter, ending an over 30‑year campaign.  Started at the outset of women's tennis.  I'm humbled and honored to have finished off a campaign started by Billie Jean King in that regard.

            I'm proud to say that this year, not only will the four Grand Slams award equal prize money, but the six major tour events after that.  So in total, the 10 biggest events in professional tennis are equal prize money.  That's something that I think our sport can be quite proud of.

            But the barrier‑breaking spirit of the tour doesn't stop there in terms of our global expansion.  You'll be aware that we have our end‑of‑year World Championship in the Middle East.  We had the first Israeli player ever play in the country of Qatar.  As many of you would have read about and reported about this past February, that sort of status of equal opportunity in sport above politics was challenged by the government of the United Arab Emirates.  The same brave player that played in Qatar, Shahar Peer, challenged the discriminatory policies of the UAE government.  Shahar earned the right to play in Dubai based on her ranking, but was denied a visa, and the WTA led the way, with Shahar, to generate international pressure and condemnation of those discriminatory policies, which resulted in the government changing their policy so that never again will a player, tennis player, be denied the ability to play their sport in the UAE for such reasons.

            Politics and sport should not mix.  Pleased that that principle was so well‑embraced by the international community, and it won out at the end of the day in this event.

            Additionally, the tour has furthered its position as pioneer and leader for gender equity around the world with the formation of a unique partnership with UNESCO.  This program supported by Billie Jean King, by Venus Williams, a lot of our other players who feel passionately about this mission and are hoping to make a difference in girls' lives around the world, even beyond the tennis court.  This program has currently got programs happening in Liberia, Cameroon, China, Jordan, Dominican Republic, United States, helping girls and women achieve leadership positions and helping educate them so they can be successful.

            Second area I'm very proud of is the increased popularity of our sport over the years.  The appeal of women's tennis is broader today than it's ever been, thanks in part to innovative steps taken by the tour and the sport over the last few years to try to present our sport in a more entertaining manner and more compelling and followable to our fans around the world.

            We've been able to bring the sport to more places globally around the world than ever before.

            The tour's Roadmap plan, launched perhaps in controversy but ultimately agreed in consensus, has formed the framework for the future of growth of our sport.  Provides for a healthier calendar for our players and a system where fans can see their favorite players playing more consistently and against each other, more often on the tennis world's biggest stages.

            Players are benefitting from a longer off‑season.  Reduced player commitment, more in‑season breaks, which are the cornerstone Roadmap for the players, as well as significantly increased prize money, an increase of 40% prize money.  And the tournaments are getting more dependable and reliable product.

            Prize money will tip the scales at over $86 million this year.  The early data indicates that the main goals of the Roadmap are, in fact, working so far this year.  In the first six months, withdrawals are down; player commitment is being met for tournaments better than it's been; and prize money is up significantly.

            The appeal of the sport has also been broadened with several innovations designed to enhance the entertainment quotient of the sport.  I'd say in the last three years, there's probably been more innovation in tennis than we've seen in any similar period before.  Between electronic line calling, on‑court coaching, prematch player interviews, in‑match coach interviews, and double scoring format changes, all of these things have contributed to an enhanced fan and TV viewer experience, and they've allowed women's tennis to capture a greater share of the sports and entertainment marketplace.

            In terms of viewers through our television agreements, women's tennis is now seen more broadly around the world than it's ever been before.  Over three thousand hours of women's tennis is broadcast on TV throughout the year, which is a 30% increase over where we were six years ago.

            And, of course, for a sport like ours, so widespread, the enhanced use of digital media and the Internet is something that's helping reach more fans around the world.

            I also want to make a special point to mention the cooperation with tennis' other governing bodies, which has been essential, and I think will be essential in the future, to tennis reaching its full potential.  There has been more cooperation amongst tennis governing bodies than ever before.

            From the US Open Series to electronic line calling to tennisTV.com and cooperation on critical governance issues like the fight against doping and the creation of the tennis integrity unit to fight against improper wagering in the sport are essential programs where the governing bodies have come together successfully and are working together.  These are all great examples of cooperation that are benefitting our members and our fans.

            The tour also has taken, I feel, some giant leaps forward in the way the sport is marketed and presented.  Last year here, we launched the largest ever marketing campaign in the tour's history, Looking For a Hero across television, digital and print platforms.  The players are also doing more, not just with the sports media, but also fashion and lifestyle media.

            And with the support of our partners, I think it's safe to say that women's tennis is being marketed more consistently and aggressively than it's ever been in the past.

            The final area I want to touch upon before taking your questions is the financial health of the tour and the sport.

            On the business side, women's tennis is in the strongest position that it's ever been before.  On the sponsorship side, there's been an increase of 500% in our sponsorship revenues, led by the $88 million, six‑year deal with Sony Ericsson, which still stands today as the largest sponsorship in the history of women's sports.  $84 million in agreements with Doha and Istanbul as hosts of our end‑of‑year World Championships through 2013.  And $750 million in stadium investments in support of the Roadmap and the changes that we've made over the years.  I think, as I mentioned, this has also resulted in a 40% increase in what's players are playing for, prize money.

            It's not simply the dollars that I'm proud of, but also the marketing and the support that's gone with that and the buzz that that's created for the sport as well.  As someone that's always loved the game as a player and as an executive, I'm honored to have been in the position to have led the organization during these exciting six years.

            It's really been an amazing narrative on the court as well.  I certainly won't forget my first Wimbledon as chairman and CEO of the WTA six years ago when Venus and Serena were in the final.  I remember taking many media questions about the state of the women's game, and wasn't I concerned that two players were dominating the way they were.  It's heartening to be here six years later and see Venus and Serena still playing and competing and perhaps being favorites for the title here.

            I don't think too many people would have predicted six years ago they'd still be playing and still be favorites here.  They've really been amazing athletes and an amazing story.

            But, boy, has the game been dynamic in those six years as well.  We've seen the emergence of Maria Sharapova, a star is born, and she's done wonders for the sport as well.  Other Russian stars at the top, Anastasia Myskina, now Dinara Safina.  We saw the compelling rivalry between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.  Justine Henin really emerges as a champion and leader for the sport.  The emergence of the Serbian players, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.  There's been thrilling competition on the court.  It's been very dynamic.  No one has been able to predict the next twist and turn in this story.

            As I look to the future and look to the pipeline of the next generation of talent, and see players like Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, as I see some of the Chinese players coming along.  I am sitting in front of with you a tremendous amount of optimism about the on‑court product, and off‑court continued business success I'm confident the WTA is going to enjoy.

            It's been amazing 20 years for me in the sport as a player and then as an executive with the ATP and the WTA.  I'll miss the sport and miss working with you all day in and day out.  As a professional, certainly didn't have as many wins as possible, but I had the rare privilege of being able to play the game, including here, as an amateur, as a pro, and feel like I've had a chance to lead the WTA during a very dynamic time.  I will look back and be proud of what we've achieved together.

            Pleased to have been able to make a career out of a sport that I love.  But while tennis is an individual sport, certainly leading the tour is not an individual effort.  It's been a team effort along the way.  I do want to recognize some of the people that have made a critical difference to my leadership and tenure at the tour.

            I want to start with Billie Jean King for her inspiring vision, commitment and courage that's very much been a beacon of light for me, and being a steward of women's tennis over the last six years.

            All the players that have a tremendous passion, talent and dedicated and sacrificed so much in their lives to be successful on the court, but they've also made the sacrifices required to help us grow the sport and market it in a different way.  Women's tennis players today remain the greatest female athletes in the world and are inspiring role models.

            I want to signal Venus Williams as well.  She has provided instrumental leadership on a view key occasions over the years, and someone I've worked with as a doubles partner on some of the most important things that we've done.  She's been a very selfless leader on key occasions.

            Our tournament promoters, for their commitment and all they do in our local communities around the world to be champions in our great sport and promote it.  We talk about tennis as a global sport, but it's really local, worldwide.  The efforts in the many markets we play in around the world are led on a 52‑week basis by our tournament promoters.

            The tour's partners and sponsors who have had a belief that women's tennis could be a tremendous marketing platform that not only invests dollars, but their image in our sport.  And the leaders of the Grand Slams, ITF and ATP, who have been friends and partners, helped us realize our potential, which can only be done in certain areas by working closely together.

            And to my team, I leave a team that's certainly amongst the most talented and deep in our sport, and I know the tour is going to be in great hands going forward.  To my board that's also provided great support for us.

            And I want to also give special recognition to Tim Phillips and Ian Ritchie, not only for making the interview room available today during the championships, but also for the special relationship I've had and the tour has had with Wimbledon over the years.  They are in their own inimitable fashion amazing leaders for the sport.  I've always marveled at how they balance the tradition, the heritage of this great event with a march on modernization that's very consistent with the brand.  It's very unique in the world of sports as I look at what Wimbledon has achieved in terms of being a leader, but still being true to its brand.

            A few days from now I'll be leaving tennis and off to something called the PAC‑10, which I know the American media understand what that is, but I know many of my friends and colleagues outside the U.S. don't fully understand it.

            My long distance travel will go from being about 20 hours for some of the trips I take in tennis to about two hours, based on the West Coast of the United States.  I'll be responsible not just for marketing and promoting one sport, but about a dozen sports in the U.S.‑collegiate landscape.

            When my European, Asian and Middle Eastern friends come and visit, I'll show you what a football with laces looks like.

            While I may be moving on and tennis will still be part of my portfolio in college sports, I'll certainly be following closely from afar and cheering the sport on.

            So thank you again for indulging me for a few minutes to share some reflections about the past six years, but also some about the future.  I'd be happy to take any questions that you have.

 

            Q.  You mentioned six years ago there was this perception that the Williams sisters were dominating everything.  Now we have the opposite situation where no one is really leading the game.  There's a perception that the game is just floundering at the moment.  What are your comments on that?

            LARRY SCOTT:  I guess I'll answer that from the perspective of having been in leadership positions in sports for 20 years.  I've seen so many different cycles of rivalries at the top and parity and jockeying for position in the men's game as well as the women's game.

            As I've been in a reflective mode over the last week thinking back on all the leadership changes at the top of the game in women's tennis, it's been amazing to me how many twists and turns there have been in the story and how many No. 1s that we've had.  So certainly we're going through a period right now, since Justine's retirement, where there is a jockeying for position.  There is a parity.  But there's a depth in the women's game that doesn't come close to what it was six years ago.

            Six years ago people weren't really talking about the depth of women's tennis, and there's a tremendous depth of women's tennis today.  If history is any guide for the future, I'm sure a year from now there will be a completely different story, and I believe we will have a player or players emerging at the top.

 

            Q.  The key market for any sport that's global is your own in the U.S.  There's only one player, apart from the Williams sisters, in the top 60 from the U.S.  How are you going to be able to monetize that when your title sponsor has just made a $325 million pound loss?  Going forward and getting people to replace Sony Ericsson is going to be well nigh impossible at the levels you've reached.

            LARRY SCOTT:  Well, first of all, the women's tennis proposition is that it's global.  Tennis is the most global sports circuit in the world.  That's what's unique about it compared to other sports.  So women's tennis is not being marketed or sold on the basis of any country.  And certainly the rationale for Sony Ericsson's investment is not based on a U.S. strategy, it's based on a global strategy.

            People have wanted to write off women's tennis.  Well, Venus and Serena are still there and are planning to be there for some time, from what I can tell.  Women's tennis is very popular in the United States.  It may not be clear who their next successors are yet.

            I certainly remember times in the men's game and women's game where people talked about that, but I think it would be a mistake to write off women's tennis.  I'm sure there will be stars that do emerge.

            Moreover, tennis being a global sport, we do have global sports icons and superstars.  Players like Roger Federer on the men's tournament, Rafael Nadal, players like Maria Sharapova, may not carry a U.S. passport, but they certainly resonate on Madison Avenue where sponsors are based and make decisions.  They certainly drive TV ratings.

            So the nature of our sport is such where global stars can drive real interest and following in the U.S.  So I'm not pessimistic at all.  Clearly there are spikes in countries where you have national stars.  There's no doubt about that.  But the base of tennis is incredibly strong in the U.S., regardless of whether they're stars or not.

 

            Q.  One of the debates is about a possible lack of personalities at the top end of women's tennis.  Is there more you can do to build those personalities, do you think?

            LARRY SCOTT:  Well, I actually feel that's one of the great strengths of the tour, is the personalities off the court twined with these great athletes on the court.  And in terms of trying to draw that out and trying to amplify that, that's really the purpose of the Looking For a Hero campaign that we created last year.

            It was really meant to draw out that duality that these are amazing athletes on the court and amazing feminine and glamorous women off the court.  Our players are very comfortable with that positioning, and I think are great role models for women showing that, you know, you can be gritty and determined on the court and go to win, and still be a feminine celebrity off the court and enjoy events and parties like we had last week with Richard Branson.

            So I think that image of the sport and that duality is emerging.  I think it's clear, and investing in marketing programs like we have is meant to continue to reinforce that.

 

            Q.  If you read fan blogs, they take exception or don't understand how a Dinara Safina or Jelena Jankovic can get to world No. 1, which we understand is because they play a lot more.  Is that a flaw in the ranking?  Fans have a problem with that.

            LARRY SCOTT:  I've certainly seen that over the years.  There have been several occasions where the sport has had No. 1s that hadn't won a Grand Slam at any time.  I know that does stir a debate amongst fans, because the world's focus is greatest around the Grand Slams, those events players do prioritize and focus on.

            But the ranking system really is designed sort of around king or queen of the hill, who is the strongest, most consistent performer over the years.  There are a lot of factors that go into the ranking system.

            While I know it does stir debate, I think I said to someone recently, The one place it doesn't stir a debate is in the locker room.  The players believe in that ranking system.  They believe the ranking is right.  And I have not had one player come up to me and say, How can Dinara Safina be No. 1 in the world?  They believe in it.  That's the ultimate test.

 

            Q.  You mentioned at the start of your introduction Dubai in February.  I ask this question on behalf of my newspaper in Abu Dhabi.  In your six years in charge, was that the most difficult issue you had to resolve?  How realistic was the threat to remove Dubai from the tour calendar?

            LARRY SCOTT:  It was in many respects one of the more challenging and stressful moments from a few different perspectives.  One, on a human level we had 80 players in Dubai when we got the news that Shahar Peer was not going to be allowed to play.  Completely blindsided us and caught us by surprise.  Didn't expect it.

            Immediately it created an international firestorm.  So events played out very much in the global public spotlight.  Didn't get a lot of sleep that week, but I was pleased with the way we marshaled support and there was this international uprising and fury over what had happened, really rallying behind the principle that sports should rise above politics.

            I felt that was very heartening and it was very powerful, because just a few short days later the government changed their policy and allowed Andy Ram in to play.

            The threat was very real that if the UAE had not changed their policies or complied with the subsequent conditions that we've placed on them to guarantee us this can't happen again, to post a financial bond and do other things, that they wouldn't be on the calendar next year.

            I'm happy we worked it out, because Dubai has been a fantastic tournament and it's been a great place for our players to play.  Sport plays an important role in society and politics and culture there.  I think there's a very bright future for sports.

            On a personal level, I'm very pleased that things worked out, changes were made.  I think the future for tennis can be very bright in the UAE.

 

            Q.  Was it a compromising position for you religiously, if I can ask that question?

            LARRY SCOTT:  Not at all.  For me, I'm representing the players in this case.  I've been going to Dubai and the UAE since, let's see, 1993 I think it was.  I was the one at the ATP that started the first professional tournaments in Dubai as well as in Doha.

            So on a personal level, I've taken great pride in the fact that tennis has opened up the Middle East, and particularly the Gulf.  I've always taken the view that tennis can be a real leader in terms of social progress and political progress.  I know people have questioned that over the years.  I have a deep belief in that, and I've seen it happen.

            When I saw players play in Doha, the crowds they play in front of, mostly male, women couldn't be seen in the crowds in the early days, to now when I see young girls out there watching, there's been a tremendous amount of social progress.  I'm very proud that women's tennis has played a leadership role.

 

            Q.  You talked about the strength of the tour now.  We're sitting on a time bomb.  Nearly every business is suffering.  When the contracts run out, what's going to happen?

            LARRY SCOTT:  No doubt this economic crisis we're going through is having major impacts on global sport.  Tennis is certainly not immune.  Tennis is in the fortunate position, however, of being global on the one hand, and secondly being very diversified now in terms of our revenue streams.

            The globality is important, because we're not a sport completely dependent on the U.S. financial sector or U.S. auto sector for sponsors.  The diversity of revenue is a very important point in that, while six years ago sponsorship, title sponsorship, was a make‑or‑break issue for the WTA, it isn't today.

            We've been able to diversify our revenue stream so that we're generating as much money out off our end‑of‑year championship deals as we are from Sony Ericsson.

            Plus major streams of revenue coming in from China with a development deal that has our office now based in Beijing, plus TV.  So we've now got multiple sources and long‑term deals.  Some agreements are through 2013, some through 2011.  We're very hopeful that Sony Ericsson continues.  Hopeful that they will.  I was pleased to see they recently extended their title sponsorship of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami for another year in 2011.

            But no one has their head in the sand.  Everyone is realistic that these are tough times.  I'll essentially be inheriting some of those issues when I go to the PAC‑10 as well.  No one is immune to it, but I feel very confident that the base for women's tennis is very strong because of the multiple major revenue streams we have and the fact that our revenues aren't just coming from one country or region.

 

            Q.  I'm concerned with if individual tournaments will be suffering.

            LARRY SCOTT:  Okay.  So far what we've seen has been heartening.  When I visited tournaments and I've seen their results, we haven't had tournaments that have had to go without title sponsors.  Attendance number have held up well.  I mean, everyone's business is off.  I won't sit here and suggest that tennis is immune or that our tournaments are immune in any way.

            But I think if I look back on the first six months of 2009, our tournaments are genuinely pleased with how tennis has held up, how their fans have held up, how their sponsors have held up.  I think the big question is what's going to happen in the next six months.  Are we seeing light at the end the tunnel?  Are companies going to become more optimistic and bullish about the future and start opening up investment again, or is it going to be tough to renew deals?

            But tennis is also a sport where there tend to be long‑ish commitments on sponsorship.  They tend to be two‑, three‑, four‑year deals.  I've been pleased there haven't been too many immediate effects.

            Let me make one other point.  We are taking this very seriously.  We have commissioned a big accounting firm, Deloitte Touche, to do a study we commissioned a few months ago.  They are looking at the books of all of our tournaments.  We are monitoring it very carefully.

            Our board is going to be looking at some numbers here at Wimbledon, then at our meetings at the US Open.  We are paying careful attention so we stay out in front of any possible issues.  But knock wood, so far we aren't seeing major impacts.

 

            Q.  What would you say is the biggest on‑court problem that needs to be dealt with, if anything, that either you didn't have a chance to do or as you look in your crystal ball you think this is a change that must be made to help the sport?

            LARRY SCOTT:  Uhm, in terms of the on‑court product, we've obviously thought about innovations over the years.  But I think we have the conclusion that when tennis has presented its best and the players are playing and healthy, the sport itself is fantastic.  It does well.  It does not need tinkering.

            Where we've tried to innovate is around the presentation and packaging.  So on‑court coaching, scoring in doubles to make more predictable the length of matches allow us to schedule it better, mic'ing coaches, things like that.  I mean, minor adjustments like reducing the number of toilet breaks and things like that.

            But these are all around the periphery.  I have a belief that the sport itself, when presented well on the biggest stages, is fantastic and doesn't need to be changed.

 

            Q.  What do you make of the controversy over the last couple of weeks about the shrieking or grunting issue?

            LARRY SCOTT:  Well, I've been used to hearing that controversy this fortnight over 20 years.  That hasn't changed.  The other 50 weeks of the year I would not say it's been a significant issue.  It has been a particular issue here in the UK.

 

            Q.  It was at Roland Garros.

            LARRY SCOTT:  I'm saying historically.  This year it's expanded beyond that.  At Roland Garros, I agree, we started hearing about this and reading about it in a way we hadn't before outside Wimbledon.

            Based on that we are looking at it, have started a process of looking at it more carefully.  There are rules in place.  Nothing needs to be reinvented if you wanted to start doing something.  There are hindrance rules.  Chair umpires are empowered to issue warnings, point penalties if there is a feeling that it's gamesmanship affecting play, et cetera.

            But I don't think we're at that point of sort of changing the instructions to the chair umpires.  It's just being monitored a little bit more closely right now.

            I will tell you that, you know, again, I haven't had players come to me in my six years as head of the WTA to say this is a competition issue.  So at least up till now ‑ this may change ‑ but at least up till now, I'd say it's been more of an issue about the presentation of the sport, and it hasn't really been a competition issue.

 

            Q.  You appeared to have been a proponent of having both tours under one umbrella, feeling it would be stronger.  Is it a bit of a disappointment to you that did not happen?

            LARRY SCOTT:  I don't leave with any regrets.  I feel great about the progress that's been made, including cooperation.  You all know well my feelings about increased cooperation.  I have grand aspirations for the sport.

 

            Q.  If the men's final last year here had been played under three sets, it would all have been over 6‑4, 6‑4, gone home after 94 minutes, and missed out on the best men's match ever.  Any thoughts at all on whether the five‑set format might be helpful for the women's game?

            LARRY SCOTT:  Well, it's something I have discussed with players.  We discussed it over the years during the equal prize money debate.  Always said that if it's determined that the women should play five sets or are asked to play five sets, the players would support that.

            I don't personally believe that's the direction that the sport is going in or that that's the best formats for television or for fans going forward.  I think it would present all kinds of scheduling issues.  But our position's been players are willing to do that.

 

            Q.  When you mention about the triumph of the tennis integrity unit, it came as a result of the review of the threats to the sport.  They recommended it have nine employees, investigators, analysts, administrators.  Currently there are only two.  Both of them are very senior.  It does appear as though they've got their eye off the ball.  How would you answer the charge that tennis is actually using this as a fig leaf to cover up the real problem, and saying, We're just referring these things to the tennis integrity unit and we can't talk about it?  There haven't been any formal prosecutions of any player on either tour, and particularly that you're conflicted because your players are also the stakeholders.

            LARRY SCOTT:  I certainly wouldn't agree with those premises.  Maybe the last point first.

            One of the reasons the Independent Tennis Integrity Unit was formed was to avoid any possible perception of there being a concept of a Players Association or individual or a Grand Slam group that's overseeing particular tournaments is in charge themselves of prosecuting this.

            I think the sport can be very proud of the speed and the way in which it's gone about trying to react to this threat.  I mean, I don't think anyone would dispute we've brought in one of the world's leading experts and most respected people in the world, Jeff Rees, who has dealt with this in cricket, of all sports, which has dealt with some of these challenges.

            The fact that we've reached out and got Ben Gunn and Jeff Rees to do an independent study.  For those of you that know them from this country, you know any report they give is going to be independent.  The fact we got Jeff to sort of take this on was I think a real coup.

            What I can say right now, I think he's very comfortable with the way the unit is set up.  Two other points I'd make:  Jeff is absolutely empowered to use outside resources, and where he deems necessary, to pursue any investigations.  Resources are not limited by full‑time head count, number one.

            Number two, there is a board set up, and annually Jeff can come with recommendations to that board about additional resource they may need.

            But this is still at the beginning stages.  It hasn't been long since it's been set up.  I think he's learning as we're going.  They're at speed.  They're working.  To the extent the unit needs to evolve, Jeff will come and recommend it, and I think he'll get great support from the ITF, ATP and WTA.

 

            Q.  Can you confirm for the record when the independent review was written, did you as an organization at any stage recommend or request that that wasn't published?  The idea that the authorities might be covering up because there's no transparency and there's no detail on any cases, is there a single fact that you can give in terms of women's matches, how many women's matches have been looked at in the last five years, and of those that have, how many have been cleared or are still under investigation?

            LARRY SCOTT:  On the first point, one of the cornerstones of the review was transparency.  I as the leader of one of the four organizations that commissioned the study was on calls with my peers at the Grand Slams, ATP, and ITF, where we discussed that point.  And we were unanimous:  It should be published.  That's why it was published.

            It's certainly my belief that when you go about this, you have to be open, you have to be transparent.  Yes, some could argue you're kind of airing the fact that the sport could potentially have a problem.  But the start of addressing anything like that and getting out in front of it is being transparent about it.

 

            Q.  So it was unanimous?

            LARRY SCOTT:  Absolutely.

            In terms of pointing to number of cases, I don't have that off the top of my head that I can point to, but I'm happy to get you that information.

 

            Q.  You're leaving this week.  How close are we to finding who takes your place?

            LARRY SCOTT:  We've got a search committee.  I've been participating on that search committee with some board members.  We've hired a world leading executive recruiting unit Korn/Ferry to lead the process.  They're at speed.  It's going well.  Our board doesn't feel in a particular rush in that even though I'm leaving at the end of this month, we have a very strong and solid management team in place.

            David Schumacher and Stacey Allaster, my two top deputies, are going to be co‑heads of the tour for this interim period.  I don't expect for it to last very long.  Everyone is working hard.  No one is going to rush the process.  But you'll hear news when there's news to announce.  There's no defined timetable we're working against.

 

            Q.  When you're talking about the presentation and trying to get the glamour and everything else, Pat Cash recently said basically sexiness is all that women's tennis has got.  How do you deal with those attitudes?  Do they come up more than just through Pat Cash's rather outspoken mouth?

            LARRY SCOTT:  They've come up from Pat many times over the years.  I guess I'm not surprised to hear it coming from Pat again.

            Well, that's it.  It's a cheap shot.  Certainly not what our fans think.  Certainly not what our partners think.  I think, you know, when you look at where women's tennis is at in terms of its popularity and the following that it's got from fans, from our commercial partners and TV, I think that answers that question.

 

            Q.  You singled out of all the current players Venus Williams.  Can you elaborate on the key things she was involved in?

            LARRY SCOTT:  From the day I started, Venus has been one player on the Player Council the whole way through.  It's tremendously helpful to have a top player that's taking the time to sit in meetings and understand the issues.

            Even outside those meetings, Venus has been very giving when I needed to consult with her on some key strategic decisions or ask her to get involved, whether it's meeting with sponsors.

            Some of you may remember in 2005, 2006, she came with me to meet with the Grand Slam Committee here the day before she was gonna contest the final.  She was the first player to raise her hand and say ‑‑ she actually called me and said she wanted to do more for gender equality.  That led to the creation of the UNESCO Gender Equality Program.  She's taken initiative with me and whenever I've gone back to her, she's always been there on the key issues.

            She's also got a tremendous amount of influence in the locker room with other players.  She's really emerged as a tremendous leader, and I very much valued the relationship I had with her.

 

            Q.  Is she the successor to Billie Jean in that respect?

            LARRY SCOTT:  I don't think she'd compare herself to Billie Jean King.  She's certainly the most effective modern player leader we've had.

            Thank you.



 

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