SINGAPORE - They have been friends of tennis for the past 41 years.
So there was little surprise on Tuesday when BNP Paribas and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced that the French financial institution will continue as title sponsors of the WTA Championships, which will be held in Singapore from 2014 to 2018.
The prestigious women's tournament will feature the world's top eight singles and doubles players doing battle at the $1.33 billion Singapore Sports Hub's Indoor Stadium, and this year's event will be held from Oct 17 to 26.
With Singapore the first city in the Asia-Pacific to stage the 44-year-old tournament, event promoter World Sports Group revealed on Tuesday that its target is to hit 100,000 spectators across the 10-day event.
Capacity at the Indoor Stadium is 12,000, but the tournament, which is the WTA Tour's season finale, will also incorporate support events like the "Rising Stars" challenge and "Legends" event, along with business forums and concerts around the venue.
Said World Sport Group CEO Andrew Georgiou: "In terms of promotional campaigns, there's no one better than BNP Paribas to help us; they have been a partner of tennis for over 40 years.
"This tournament guarantees the top eight women players competing here, every year... We are going to position it as the biggest women's event outside of the Grand Slams.
"This won't just be a tennis event, it's also (leveraged) on lifestyle, business and entertainment levels.
"The new Sports Hub is a key part, especially during the build-up, when we will have fan fests for the public to experience the new Hub and tennis."
Georgiou added that a series of announcements will be made in the coming months, including the acquisition of local sponsors for the event.
For the last three editions of the event, held in Istanbul, BNP Paribas sponsored the tournament along with Turkish partners Turk Ekonomi Bankasi.
The bank also has a long association with the French Open and the ongoing Indian Wells tournament in California.
"The WTA Championships is the most important event of the Tour, and it showcases our biggest stars," said Melissa Pine, the WTA's vice-president and tournament director for Asia-Pacific.
"With BNP on board, I have no doubt that this could be the best WTA Championships."
Pierre Veyres, CEO of BNP Paribas Singapore Branch and Regional Head for Southeast Asia, added: "We are excited to bring tennis to a whole new level with Singapore positioned as a world- class sports hub.
"Our title sponsorship reflects our continued commitment to the sports community across continents with the hope to connect the region with the rest of the tennis world."
The BNP Paribas WTA Championships corporate-hospitality packages will go on sale later this month and interested parties can register their details at www.wtachampionships.com.
Tickets for the public will be available in stages from next month.
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