As the next milestone its ongoing resurgence, World TeamTennis has announced that tennis champions and global sports icons Venus Williams and Andy Roddick have become part owners of the business and of the professional team tennis league co-founded by Billie Jean King. Both longtime Mylan WTT players, Williams and Roddick will help lead the organization forward and have an active voice in shaping its direction and expansion roadmap in both U.S. and international markets in the coming years. As global ambassadors for sport, the pair will have an important role in broadening visibility for World TeamTennis internationally, while helping attract new business partners and players to become part of the league. In addition, they will continue to compete in Mylan WTT, with Roddick taking the court for the Springfield Lasers and Williams returning to the Washington Kastles.
Billie Jean King, the majority owner of World TeamTennis, said, “I’m thrilled to have Venus and Andy become part of our leadership. They have always been more than amazing athletes - they are champions in life who have inspired so many and who I’m sure will bring an exciting perspective and valuable ideas to how we expand WTT both domestically and internationally.”
Williams’ connection to Mylan WTT goes back more than 20 years when she and her sister Serena attended a World TeamTennis youth clinic in Long Beach, Calif., when they were young children and met King. It was a moment that Williams never forgot and has spurred her to consistently play Mylan WTT throughout the years for both the competition and the opportunity to give back. Williams also played a pivotal role in getting equal prize money at the four majors and has been active in a number of charitable efforts.
Commenting on her new commitment to WTT, Venus Williams said, “I am very excited to join the ownership group for the organization that Billie Jean co-founded almost 40 years ago and for which I have played for over a decade. It’s no secret that she has been a great mentor and inspiration to me and this new ownership role is an opportunity to give back while also having an active hand in shaping the future direction of the league in a much more substantial way. WTT is on a great path and I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”
Roddick has been a longtime supporter of Mylan WTT, dating back to his start on the professional tour at age 17. He returns for his 7th season this July, his first with the Springfield Lasers. Roddick has also participated for most of the past decade in Mylan WTT Smash Hits, the annual charity event co-hosted by Sir Elton John and King. Roddick has raised millions through the Andy Roddick Foundation (ARF) to develop and inspire underserved youth through education and sports-based mentoring.
Roddick said, “I’ve always been a big supporter of Billie Jean’s and of WTT over the years. In my time playing in the league, I’ve seen firsthand not only the way it engages fans, but also what I see is a big opportunity to bring this type of competition to a broader audience in innovative new ways. I’m excited to have a seat at the table in helping guide where we take the league next.”
King concluded, "Venus and Andy also understand the connection that Mylan WTT teams make with local communities and can inspire so many young children to take up the sport and dream of one day playing for their hometown team."
This announcement follows on a number of important developments with WTT in recent months including a new multi-year title sponsorship with Mylan Pharmaceuticals and multi-year renewals with GEICO as presenting sponsor and Wilson as the official tennis brand of Mylan World TeamTennis, and the addition of a new sponsorship partner, Adecco. Earlier this year, WTT added a presence in another major U.S. market with the relocation of a franchise to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex where the Texas Wild will make their Mylan WTT debut this July in Irving, Texas.
The 2013 season will start out with an opportunity to make sports history as the defending Mylan WTT champion Washington Kastles, led by Venus Williams, put their 32-match win streak on the line on July 8 in Washington, D.C. The Kastles are only one win away from tying the major U.S. pro sports team record of 33 wins by the NBA's 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The 2013 season of Mylan World TeamTennis presented by GEICO runs July 7-28 in eight U.S. markets. The regular season is July 7-24 with the top two teams from both the Western and Eastern Conference advancing to the 2013 Mylan WTT Conference Championships on Thursday, July 25. The 2013 Mylan WTT Finals will be contested on Sunday, July 28, on the home court of the Eastern Conference Champions.