For decades, the ATP and WTA have done their business very independently. Although the two tours often are hosting tournaments in the same place at the same time, behind the scenes operations could not be much more disjointed. Many have criticized both organizations for failing to find common ground and work together to help grow the sport. There have even been calls by current and former top tennis players that the ATP and WTA should merge and form one all-encompassing body.
While that hasn’t happened yet, there are signs of major progress. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly shifted priorities for many, including the tours, as nearly three months of tournaments were cancelled in 2020. During this time, they created a digital show called Tennis United. Hosted by Vasek Pospisil and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the show aimed at educating viewers on the common ground and unique differences between the men’s and women’s game. This was a start.
Heading into 2021, the ATP and WTA decided that Tennis United should continue, and this time, they were going to put some real support behind it. In January of 2021, the ATP and WTA transitioned to an integrated marketing operation, building on unprecedented collaboration between the tours. Under the alignment, key leadership roles across social media, digital and branding were now responsible for maximizing engagement through joint storytelling and creating efficiencies on key projects.
“Few professional sports have the opportunity that tennis does, to tell an authentic story of male and female athletes united,” said Dan Ginger, SVP of Brand and Marketing. “This has always been our vision for Tennis United. Creating a centralized marketing team across the Tours allows us to further reduce fragmentation within the sport and focus on positioning tennis as a leading global entertainment property.”
“This is an exciting time for professional tennis,” said Micky Lawler, President of the WTA. “This past year, we gave the WTA a new visual identity while we simultaneously built a more formal collaboration with the ATP. Both initiatives have resonated with our audience. We’re extremely pleased to announce our marketing alignment with the ATP and look forward to delivering a new era of story-telling that celebrates the best of our sport.”
Tennis United: CrossCourt goes behind the scenes of life on Tour through a series of intimate one-on-one conversations between ATP and WTA stars. Spanning eight captivating, short-format episodes, players explored a range of largely untouched subjects from within and beyond sport, offering fans a raw perspective on the experiences, pressures and privileges that make up life in professional tennis. 2021 topics included relationships, coaching, mental health, doubles, travel and much more.
Let’s be honest, this was a pretty obvious partnership, and one that is clearly benefiting both tours as they are marketing each other’s stars. However, there are so many opportunities out there for the two operations to work together and make tennis easier to understand for the common fan.
The Tours deserve credit for putting in the effort to work together, and hopefully this will show them that the more tennis comes together, the stronger we are as a sport.