Ten­nis Time:

This month marks the fi­nal edi­tion of one of the world’s most pres­ti­gious ten­nis events in Sin­ga­pore – and it’s set to be bet­ter than ever!

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Contents -

Our look at the BNP Paribas WTA Fi­nals

Since 2014, the BNP Paribas WTA Fi­nals Sin­ga­pore pre­sented by SC Global has been a key high­light in the city’s an­nual sport­ing calendar. From next year on­wards, it will be mak­ing a new home in Shen­zhen, China. We chat with SARAH CLE­MENTS, Vice Pres­i­dent, Ten­nis – Asia, La­gardère Sports, about the tour­na­ment and what we can look for­ward to in this month’s farewell in­stal­ment.

Tell us a bit about your­self.

It’s of­ten said that ten­nis is a sport for life, and it’s so true for me – I’ve been in­volved with ten­nis all my life, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. My ear­li­est mem­o­ries of ten­nis were in Malawi in Africa where I spent my child­hood years play­ing each week­end at the Blan­tyre Sports Club. I then moved to Mel­bourne in the 80s, where I played ten­nis ev­ery sin­gle day – rain or shine. Although I had no pro­fes­sional train­ing in ten­nis, I ab­so­lutely loved the sport. My first job was in an editorial role at Vogue mag­a­zine, be­fore join­ing Ten­nis Aus­tralia as an ad­min­is­tra­tor. Over the course of 19 years, I’ve had a wild and won­der­ful ride through the or­gan­i­sa­tion, even­tu­ally be­com­ing the GM for Op­er­a­tions and Events, fo­cus­ing on the Aus­tralian Open. After that, I joined the Mel­bourne Fash­ion Fes­ti­val, fol­lowed by my cur­rent role at La­gardère Sports.

It’s the tour­na­ment’s last year in Sin­ga­pore; how do you feel about that?

It’s in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing know­ing that the event has grown stronger each year. Last year, we wel­comed 133,000 fans, set­ting a record in Sin­ga­pore! We set our sights

on tak­ing it from a ten­nis tour­na­ment to a world-class sport­ing and life­style event. We wanted to give in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal fans some­thing to look for­ward to with each edi­tion.

Look­ing back now, there’s no ques­tion that it’s been a suc­cess. Sin­ga­pore has trans­formed the WTA Fi­nals from a sports tour­na­ment into a top sports, life­style and en­ter­tain­ment fes­ti­val over the past four years. We look for­ward to smash­ing these records again in 2018 to give the event a fit­ting farewell.

How have you found the job of or­gan­is­ing the Fi­nals?

I wanted to im­plant as much of my ex­pe­ri­ence from Ten­nis Aus­tralia and other ma­jor events into Sin­ga­pore and give the city a ma­jor global event that it could be in­cred­i­bly proud of, but also some­thing that has a mean­ing­ful im­pact on the com­mu­nity.

The fan vil­lage is one of the many com­po­nents that we built as part of the life­style pro­gramme around the WTA Fi­nals Sin­ga­pore to en­gage peo­ple from dif­fer­ent walks of life; it’s cer­tainly one of my per­sonal favourites. I have two young boys; they are my lit­mus test and they ab­so­lutely love it – they come down early be­fore the tour­na­ment starts to en­joy the fan vil­lage. Most ses­sions, they ac­tu­ally want to skip out on the ten­nis and go back to the fan vil­lage, so that’s my chal­lenge! But I hope ev­ery par­ent who brings their child to the tour­na­ment has the same ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause if they do, we’ve suc­ceeded in what we set out to do.

How has the tour­na­ment con­trib­uted to the women’s ten­nis scene?

Right from the begin­ning, we wanted the WTA Fi­nals Sin­ga­pore to con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to the de­vel­op­ment and aware­ness of ten­nis in Sin­ga­pore and around the re­gion. We’ve man­aged to strengthen the ten­nis com­mu­nity across Sin­ga­pore. From Sport Sin­ga­pore which es­tab­lished the Sin­ga­pore Ten­nis Fes­ti­val to the Sin­ga­pore Tourism Board that helped us send the mes­sage of this event be­yond Sin­ga­pore, we’ve worked hard to build the love of ten­nis.

We’ve also worked closely with the Sin­ga­pore Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion to make ten­nis an ac­ces­si­ble sport to stu­dents. To­gether with the Women’s Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion ( WTA), we were able to raise the pro­file of women’s ten­nis to an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence through their global net­work and tell in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries through their play­ers. Bring­ing the sport closer to home, we have rolled out pro­grammes that in­clude ten­nis-themed ac­tiv­i­ties at Car Free Sun­days and the Sin­ga­pore Sports Hub. We also host Com­mu­nity Play Days to make ten­nis more ac­ces­si­ble.

What can we ex­pect dur­ing this year’s tour­na­ment?

Be­sides watch­ing top play­ers in women’s ten­nis in ac­tion, guests can en­joy the Rac­quet Club – an in­ti­mate venue to net­work over good food and free-flow wine.

Fam­i­lies and fans alike can have fun at ten­nis-themed booths and games at the fan vil­lage at the OCBC Square – WTA Fi­nals Sin­ga­pore mer­chan­dise are also up for grabs! There’ll also be meet-and-greet ses­sions with play­ers and WTA leg­ends, player prac­tice ses­sions and pub­lic draw cer­e­monies.

“My two young boys ab­so­lutely love the fan vil­lage – they come down early be­fore the tour­na­ment starts to en­joy it.”

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