Interview with Larry Scott
June 25, 2009
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: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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