Thursday, August 21, 2008

ATP Boss Etienne de Villiers To Step Down

London, U.K. – Etienne de Villiers, Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, governing body of the men's professional tennis circuit, today announced that he will not be renewing his contract at the end of the 2008 season. Executive Chairman since June 2005, Mr de Villiers has overseen the most extensive set of changes to the ATP Tour since its inception in 1990.

The changes, which will see $1 billion of new investment into the ATP Tour, include record breaking levels of prize money for players, new, world class tournaments, an enhanced, healthier calendar structure, unprecedented levels of promotional spend and a new brand look and identity based on extensive consumer research, designed to make the Tour more fan friendly.

Etienne de Villiers said:

"I was tasked by the ATP Board, three years ago, to create a vision that would involve bold changes for our sport. I believe that has now been achieved. I believe we have delivered the biggest modernisation of the ATP Tour since its inception, have attracted unprecedented levels of investment into men's tennis and have begun to feed the growing appetite for men's tennis globally, both in established and emerging markets. I am incredibly proud of what the Board and my dedicated team have achieved for men's tennis and I am honoured to have played a part in taking our great sport to the next level. Now that this much needed change has been realised I believe this is the right time for someone new to build on this strong platform. I leave knowing, without doubt, that finally our players, tournaments and above all our fans have the foundations of a world class sport they truly deserve."

Heineken Auckland Open Chief Executive and ATP Board member Graham Pearce said:

"Etienne has been an outstanding leader for our sport over his three year term, not least in the past months as we were forced to defend ourselves, successfully, in a Delaware court of law. He was asked to instigate change to our sport and he has done that and more. The levels of investment into facilities and promotion, as well as rises in prize money, are unprecedented for our sport and are set to take men's tennis to the next stage of global popularity. Etienne has put in place a programme of change that is far reaching and exciting, and the end result is a sport that will be reinvigorated and ready to fulfil its true potential. Men's tennis owes him a huge debt."

Etienne de Villiers joined the ATP in June 2005 as Chairman and became Executive Chairman and President in November 2005. As well as overhauling the management structure of the ATP, Mr de Villiers undertook for the first time, extensive, global research to understand the fan's perspective of the sport. The result was the overhauling of the doubles format to create a more popular version of the team game; fan friendly initiatives such as Hawkeye being introduced to the ATP Tour; a series of measures designed to improve player health including the end of 5 set finals and byes for seeded players at Masters tournaments resulting in substantial increases in player turn out and the first increases of player prize money in over five years.

Mr de Villiers, working with the tennis industry, has also put in place a series of changes designed to unlock the potential of men's tennis, not least the creation of a new ATP World Tour calendar with key tournaments strategically placed to ensure 'swings' of events leading into the sport's five 'pillars' - the four Grand Slams and the ‘Barclays ATP World Tour Finals’ (formerly known as the Tennis Masters Cup). Working together with the Sony Ericcson WTA, in 2011 five of the nine ‘Masters 1000s’, the ATP’s top tier, will be major mandatory combined events - a format that fans acknowledge is one of the sport’s major attractions and mirrors the success of the Grand Slams.

In addition, post US Open, the calendar will now be strengthened by an Asian swing of three weeks that will showcase the world's best players at new tournaments - Shanghai "Masters 1000", and the Tokyo and Beijing "500s". This will be followed by an enhanced European indoor swing concluding at the new look Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London's iconic O2 Arena. The new Tour calendar ensures a healthier schedule for players, with less travel across continents and less congested sections of the season.

Mr de Villiers will fulfil his current three year term as ATP Executive Chairman, a term that ends in December 2008 and will now assist the ATP Board in their recruitment of a successor.


SarooQ said...

I am a huge Federer Fan, but after reading this article on Nadal, i would't mind so much if he won the US Open. It has great insight on how normal, humble and basically well mannered well raised kind of guy he is! i want to applaud his parents.

Savannah said...

Rafa's father, and his uncle, tell him to stay humble and hungry. Not much to say after that is there?

Early in his career they told him not to get into private jets and La Dolce Vita because it's all transitory.

tristann said...

Bodo has a post up discussing John McEnroe Sr.'s interest in being considered for the position that EdeV is vacating.

I do not know enough about him to know if he is the best guy, but he has something which is sorely needed. Someone who understand the insides and outsides of the tour and who can also see the players' concerns.

What do you think of him, Craig? and others?

Helen W said...

It irks me that now that ET is stepping down, all the news articles about him are filled with his praises. They don't mention his temper tantrums, walking out of meetings, etc, nor his arrogance.

I'm glad he's gone.

I think Johnny Mac would be an interesting choice.

brooklyn1006 said... had a very good article on the deVilliers situation. And, they mentioned his personality problems and conflicts with the players.

I am waiting for an interview with Rafa, Fed, and even Davydenko on their feelings about his stepping down as they were in the anti-deV camp.