When World TeamTennis returns to action in July 2015, the innovative leader in professional team tennis competition co-founded by Billie Jean King will become only the fifth major professional team sports league in the United States to reach the 40th season milestone, joining an elite list that includes Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL. WTT will be commemorating the 40th season with a yearlong marketing and promotional program that includes a series of special events, advertising, digital and social media content, fan engagement initiatives and 40thanniversary logo and merchandise. The 40th season of Mylan World TeamTennis will run July 12-August 2, league officials announced today.
The regular season is July 12-29 with the Conference Championships set for Thursday, July 30. The WTT Finals, which will air live on ESPN 2, will be contested on the home court of the Eastern Conference champion on Sunday, August 2. ESPN 3 will also broadcast a number of matches throughout the summer. Schedules for the seven WTT teams will be released in early 2015.
“As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, Mylan World TeamTennis maintains its pioneering spirit and commitment to push the boundaries of our sport in the name of fan entertainment. Throughout our rich history, Mylan WTT has been a showcase for world-class competition as well as the fundamental values of gender equity, access and community,” said King. WTT CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss said, “The 40th season of Mylan WTT will serve as a launching pad for the next phase of growth. We are excited to explore opportunities for expansion of our league in the United States and internationally, the creation of new event assets and the further development of our media platform across both linear and digital channels”. Kloss, who started with the league in 1974 as a player and has been involved as a player, coach and executive since the inaugural season.
Plans for the 40th season include a kick-off celebration and player draft on March 16 in Indian Wells and an all-star event in New York in August. The 2015 WTT Player Draft will be one of the league’s major events next year with teams putting their line-ups together on Monday, March 16 in Indian Wells. The event will combine the marquee and roster player drafts for the first time in more than a decade. A 40th season celebration will follow the draft with some of the legends of the league expected to attend.
A special 40th season logo, which will be unveiled later this year, will be used throughout the campaign on player uniforms and on court. The league will also introduce a retro version of the logo that recognizes the inaugural 1974 season for use on merchandise next spring. Players will share their favorite WTT memories in a series of video vignettes that will be featured on WTT.com in 2015. With a fascinating history of firsts, innovations and an emphasis on gender equity, World Team Tennis stands out among all professional sports leagues.
Since its inception in the early 70s, WTT has been an innovator in the sports world with many of the league’s modernizations recognized and adopted by others in the industry. WTT was the first professional sports league to feature men and women competing equally on a team. Other advancements of the past 40 seasons include:
- Introduction of multi-color courts
- Players’ names on back of their shirts
- On-court coaching
- Introduction of instant replay to pro tennis competition
- No-ad and cumulative scoring
- Overtime and Supertiebreakers
- Playing let serves
The league has also taken engagement to new levels with fan-friendly initiatives that include playing music between points, encouraging fans to keep balls hit into the stands and post-match, on-court autographs for children. WTT has also distributed more than 300,000 racquets in the past decade to youth groups. Since the League’s debut, many of the sport’s greatest stars have played World Team Tennis including King, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Stefanie Graf, Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport.