[SINGAPORE] French bank BNP Paribas has been unveiled as the title sponsor of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Championships, the next five editions of which will be held in Singapore starting this October.
The bank chose not to disclose the exact amount of the deal, but it is likely to be in the millions of dollars given that the contract is for five years from 2014 to 2018.
The season-ending tournament - featuring the top eight singles players and top four doubles teams - is coming to Asia for the first time. They will slug it out at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for a record US$6.5 million in prize money.
For BNP Paribas, this latest deal is an extension of its association with the WTA. The bank was the sponsor of the championships along with its Turkish partner, Turk Ekonomi Bankasi, for the last three years when the event was held in Istanbul.
The bank's support for tennis dates back to 1973. Among its other initiatives in the sport is its sponsorship of the Indian Wells tournament in California.
"We are a long-time partner of tennis. We are excited to bring tennis to a new level here in Singapore," said BNP Paribas Singapore CEO Pierre Veyres during a press conference held at Marina Bay Sands to announce the sponsorship yesterday. "This title sponsorship reflects our continued commitment to the sports communities across continents, with the hope to connect this region to the rest of the tennis world," he added.
WTA's vice-president for Asia-Pacific Melissa Pine, who is also the tournament director for the championships in Singapore, said: "Those who play tennis will know that having a great doubles player is key to success, and we couldn't have asked for a better partner than BNP Paribas."
Singapore's five-year hosting of the prestigious event is the longest for any city in the championship's 42-year history. The Republic will be the ninth host city, following in the footsteps of Boca Raton (Florida), Los Angeles, Oakland, New York City, Munich, Madrid, Doha and Istanbul.
Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to throng the Indoor Stadium for the Oct 17-26 event, with millions more following the action from around the world.
While the final line-up of players coming to Singapore will not be confirmed until much closer to October, the current top eight women's singles players based on points accumulated this year include Australian Open champion Li Na of China, Serena Williams of the United States and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska.
At last year's event in Istanbul, Williams defeated Li Na in three sets to win her career-high 11th title of 2013 and fourth WTA crown.