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Ex-WTA chief Allaster named US Open’s first female tournament director

Stacey Allaster gestures during a press conference at the 2015 WTA Elite Trophy (by Visual China Group via Getty Images)

Stacey Allaster, former chair and chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), has been appointed as the first female tournament director of the US Open.

The US Tennis Association’s (USTA’s) appointment to oversee the United States’ grand slam tournament comes at a pivotal time for organisers of the event as they weigh up whether this year’s edition can take place as scheduled amid Covid-19.

Allaster will replace David Brewer, who had served as tournament director since 2012 but was due to step down after last year’s US Open. She will retain her existing role as the USTA’s chief executive of professional tennis.

Allaster was appointed to that role in March 2016, six months after stepping down from her position as head of the WTA. At the time, Allaster said that the recent deaths of her brother-in-law, Greg Milkovich, and Brad Drewett, the former chief executive of the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), had provided a personal wake-up call and influenced her decision to step down. Drewett died in May 2013 at the age of 54 following a long battle with motor neurone disease.

Allaster was named WTA president in January 2006 before becoming chair and chief executive in July 2009. She oversaw the development of the women’s game during its most successful commercial period. Steve Simon succeeded Allaster as chief executive of the WTA.

Earlier this week, the USTA announced it will eliminate 110 jobs and close its national headquarters in White Plains, New York, as a result of the devastating financial effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes as the USTA continues its attempts to stage the US Open on its scheduled dates in the calendar at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, albeit without spectators.

In April the USTA identified more than $20m (€17.6m) in savings, including tiered pay cuts for senior executives for the remainder of 2020, eliminating marketing, player development and operations costs, and deferring all non-essential capital projects.