Interesting Q&A with WTA CEO Stacy Allaster. And props to TW buddy and former FD commenter, Master Ace:
4. The road map was indeed a success especially after Wimbledon. However, I have heard that players and fans complained that the Premier 5 and Mandatory events were too close together. Will the WTA consider separating them by putting a Premier tournament or have an off week between them?
--Master Ace, Birmingham, Ala.
Thanks for your question, Master Ace. The 2009 calendar was the result of a collaborative effort between the Tour and our players. We worked closely with the Players' Council and our players and reviewed more than five years of Top 10 player playing patterns. Together with the players we determined that the athletes want to play two to three weeks prior to a Grand Slam and because of that, we scheduled our commitment tournaments (such as Mandatory and Premier 5 events) with context to the athletes' competitive needs. During our discussions with the Players' Council, we brought the back-to-back scheduling of Indian Wells and Miami tournaments up for discussion. Our players decided that they wanted to play those two tournaments back-to-back without a break in between.
The Tour also examined two back-to-back scenarios at Rome/Madrid and Tokyo/Beijing. In order to provide sufficient rest and travel time for those players that go deep at Rome or Tokyo, the Tour introduced "performance byes", meaning that the semifinalists of the first tournament (Rome and Tokyo) receive a first round "bye" for the second week (Madrid and Beijing). This gives our players additional time for travel and rest.
Finally, as we move forward, we will continue to closely track the data to ensure that we stage the right events during the right dates. The Tour is committed to maximizing our players' health and well-being in order to ensure that we consistently deliver our top player fields to our top tournament. I can also tell you that in 2011, we will flip the schedules of Rome and Madrid, so that Madrid comes first. This will make a difference as Madrid's draw is larger, at 64 players, vs. Rome's 56. Having a bigger tournament such as Madrid precede Rome will give our athletes additional days to rest and recover in between these events, particularly as they prepare for Roland Garros.
6. What other sports executives do you admire most?
I greatly admire the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, because he was one of the first people in sports to understand the value of entertainment. The NBA has taken on a role of a leader in being a fan-centric brand worldwide. David is a great visionary and a trailblazer who has changed how we view sports in general.