WTA event may benefit local tennis

WTA event may benefit local tennis
(From left) Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tournament director Melissa Pine, BNP Paribas’ Pierre Veyres and World Sport Group’s Andrew Georgiou holding aloft a mock version of the Billie Jean King trophy on 11 March 2014, which will be awarded to the singles winner at the WTA Championships in October 2014.

SINGAPORE - The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Championships in October is not only a coup for Singapore's aspirations to be a regional sports hub but may also deliver a positive spin-off for the game here.

French financial institution BNP Paribas, which was yesterday announced as the title sponsor of the US$6.5 million (S$8.2 million) tournament for the next five years, is open to giving the sport a boost here.

Said Pierre Veyres, its regional head for South-east Asia and Singapore chief executive: "We plan to remain focused on tennis and don't plan to diversify. But, when it comes to tennis, why not?

"We didn't consider (supporting local tennis) yet but possibly."

The Paris-based bank's sponsorship continues its partnership with the prestigious WTA Championships season-finale.

The Frenchman declined to reveal the worth of the sponsorship but said it was comparable with what was invested over the last three years when the year-ender was held in Istanbul - reportedly around US$2 million a year.

BNP Paribas is one of the biggest corporate supporters of tennis and has been associated with the sport for more than four decades - spending over €30 million (S$52.8 million) every year.

It has backed the French Open since 1973 and also an ongoing tournament in Indian Wells in California, one of the biggest ATP and WTA events.

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