WTA: From outcasts to inspiration for women

WTA: From outcasts to inspiration for women
(From left): WTA founder Billie Jean King and WTA chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster joined Belarus tennis star Victoria Azarenka in visiting the Empire State Building in New York City in August as part of activities to celebrate the WTA's 40th anniversary.

Earlier this year, Women's Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive officer and chairman Stacey Allaster handed a young Chinese woman in Beijing her business card.

"She looked at the card, looked up at me, then told me she's never been handed a card by a woman CEO before," Allaster recalled.

Indeed, even as the WTA looks in prime shape as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, it continues to actively engage its players, fans and stakeholders, making them feel connected to this global community of women's tennis.

As a former collegiate player and someone who has worked in tennis throughout her career, Allaster understands that the WTA has grown into a symbol of how far women athletes have come, and plays an important role in making a statement about women's talent.

She recalls the times when, as a teenager from Welland in Ontario, she would drive two hours to watch tournaments in Toronto.

The 50-year-old told The Sunday Times: "I grew up watching great champions like Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert on the same stage as the men and I thought I could do the same.

"I never once felt, as I played as a junior, that it was tough to have the opportunity (to play)."

Yet, the WTA was formed amid outcries of rebellion and threats of suspension.

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