ITF and TWG Global form Billie Jean King Cup Limited03/08/2023 00:00
The International Tennis Federation has signed a partnership agreement with?the Sports, Media, and Entertainment arm of TWG Global, the holding company led by businessman and philanthropist Mark Walter
The International Tennis Federation has signed a partnership agreement with the Sports, Media, and Entertainment arm of TWG Global, the holding company led by businessman and philanthropist Mark Walter.
This joint venture will create a new business model for the Billie Jean King Cup, the women’s World Cup of Tennis.
The ITF will hold a 51% majority share of the new entity. TWG Global will invest a substantial sum in the endeavour as well as provide expertise and infrastructure for the marketing and promotion of the Billie Jean King Cup, led by Ilana Kloss, of Billie Jean King Enterprises (BJKE).
Billie Jean King Cup Limited will work to source new sponsorships, broadcast, and commercial partnerships. In 2020, the women’s World Cup of Tennis, formerly known as the Fed Cup, was re-branded as the Billie Jean King Cup and is now in its 60th year. The new business venture will leverage the premier women’s tennis team competition as a platform for women’s professional development programmes in leadership, officiating and coaching.
All parties involved in this deal have a deep, passionate and long commitment to women’s sports. Both the ITF and TWG Global have longstanding relationships with BJKE and its co-founders Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss.
Billie Jean King is one of the world’s leading advocates for sports equity and female empowerment. Ilana Kloss is the CEO of BJKE and former Commissioner of World Team Tennis. King and Kloss are partners in business and in life, working together to foster gender parity in sports and business.
TWG Global’s leader, Mark Walter, is the controlling owner of the LA Dodgers and an owner of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, co-general partner of the Chelsea Football Club and holder of a significant interest in the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. Walter and TWG Global are committed to fostering equity in sports and to advancing women’s professional athletics. To that end, in the last year, TWG Global made a substantial investment to form a new women’s professional ice hockey league, which it did working alongside King, Kloss and BJKE.
"We now have a significant opportunity to elevate the Billie Jean King Cup with this investment and a team of people working on this property every single day" - Ilana Kloss
The ITF is committed to equality and inclusion in sports. In 2018 the ITF created Advantage All to do just that and is fully committed to equal opportunity in tennis and to promoting gender balance. These commitments are a core pillar of the ITF2024 strategy.
The Billie Jean King Cup is a significant part of this commitment. Remuneration of players and national programs to field teams has more than tripled in the past five years. In 2022, thanks to new title sponsorship, women competing in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals received the same prize money as the men for the Davis Cup Finals. The Billie Jean King Cup World Champion, Switzerland, took home an unprecedented $2 million prize.
Ilana Kloss, CEO of BJKE said: "We now have a significant opportunity to elevate the Billie Jean King Cup with this investment and a team of people working on this property every single day. This is a long-term partnership, and it allows us to build the event on multiple levels and make sure we have all of the elements in place, so that it continues to be the preeminent global team competition not only in tennis, but in women's sports. The Billie Jean King Cup is a strong platform to elevate equality and women. Our goal is to help more women secure senior leadership and board positions with all ITF federations; have more women in media so that our story is told around the globe; and to have more women as officials.”
David Haggerty, ITF President said: “It is thrilling and fitting in its 60th year to announce a unique partnership for the Billie Jean King Cup formed by people who have worked in sports and tennis all their lives. This joint venture will be overseen and operated by leaders who bring vast knowledge, experience, and shared passion to the global development our sport and who hold a remarkable track record in growing women’s tennis.
“In line with the ITF’s mission to deliver tennis for future generations, this will benefit nations in their development of tennis as well as current players and the generations to follow.
“This is a new way of operating the Billie Jean King Cup and establishes a sustainable business model, ensuring that we have greater means to make a positive contribution towards growing grassroots tennis and achieving gender balance in our sport both on and off the court. It’s just the latest step in our commitment to elevating the largest annual women’s team competition in sports and our promise in 2020 to make it bigger, better, bolder.”
"It is thrilling and fitting in its 60th year to announce a unique partnership for the Billie Jean King Cup formed by people who have worked in sports and tennis all their lives" - David Haggerty
Mark Walter, founder of TWG Global said: “I believe sports are one of the most essential avenues for social change and can make a real difference in developing a more equitable society. I am grateful to Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss for all that they have done to foster gender equity in sports and I am proud to again partner with them to realize our shared mission of vibrant, competitive, and equitable women’s sports. TWG Global is thrilled to work with BJKE and ITF to make tennis a more balanced game for the women who compete and to encourage more great female athletes to follow in the footsteps of Billie Jean to push the sport of tennis forward.”
Billie Jean King, Co-Founder of BJKE said: "We want the Billie Jean King Cup to have a positive, lasting sporting and social impact on all 211 ITF Federations. This competition has always been a powerful platform for the global growth of women's tennis and with this news we are committed to having a bold, historic and lasting impact for generations to come. We are thankful to Mark Walter and TWG Global for their investment. The goals of TWG Global, BJKE and ITF are completely aligned, and we will work together to build on this event's incredible 60-year history to achieve an even greater future for women and women's sports."
As the global guardian of tennis, the ITF retains responsibility for sports, regulatory and global governance matters. The ITF will continue to operate the competition at all levels in conjunction with participating nations. A record 134 nations have entered the Billie Jean King Cup competition in 2023 from Regionals to the home and away ties of the earlier stages up to the Qualifiers and Play-Offs.
The world’s twelve best national teams have secured their place to its pinnacle event, the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals, which take place from 7 to 12 November in Seville, Spain.