As well as becoming the ATP’s official airline partner through 2012, the agreement will see the continuation of SAA’s sponsorship of several of the ATP Tour’s prestigious international tournaments. South African Airways, a member of the Star Alliance, also provides ATP players and staff with a special travel benefit programme facilitating the year-round international travel that characterizes the global Tour.
“South African Airways is delighted to be extending its role as the official airline of the ATP,” said Khaya Ngqula, CEO of SAA. “The past two years have seen a successful partnership blossom between SAA and the ATP. We are both global organizations with ambitious and far reaching plans and we look forward to continuing our partnership with great enthusiasm.”
“There has never been a more exciting time for men’s professional tennis and we are delighted that South African Airways share our vision for the future of our sport,” said Etienne de Villiers, ATP Executive Chairman and President. “We are on the cusp of delivering our ambitious and far reaching changes to the ATP, plans that are already securing considerable interest and backing from the commercial world. I could not be more thrilled that SAA has extended its role as the Official Airline of the ATP and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership.”
The ATP also announced today that a new ATP World Tour tournament in South Africa will debut in 2009. Several cities in South Africa have demonstrated a strong willingness to host the event and an announcement on the venue will be made shortly, subject to final ATP approval. The event will be promoted and run by the South African Tennis Association (SATA). The announcement that South Africa will host a new ATP tournament from 2009 onwards is a major boost for the sport in Africa and strengthens the ATP’s presence in a key global market.
“We are also deeply committed to taking a leadership role in the development of professional tennis in South Africa” said Ngqula. “That is why we are delighted to be involved with SATA in bringing an ATP World Tour event to Africa from next year and look forward to what we know will be a fantastic week of world class tennis. This is a wonderful opportunity for those interested cities and venues to demonstrate their commitment to tennis in South Africa”
South Africa’s number one ranked player Kevin Anderson welcomed the announcement: “I am absolutely delighted that South Africa will be hosting an ATP World Tour event next year. South African tennis fans are some of the most passionate in the world and I know the tournament will be a huge success and I look forward to competing on home soil next season.”
“As the global governing body for men’s tennis we are determined to ensure fans in as many countries in the world have the chance to see the stars of the ATP World Tour up close and on court and so we are happy to be increasing our number of tournaments in Africa with a new 250 level event,” said Brad Drewett, CEO ATP International Region. “Anyone who has experienced the passion for sport in South Africa knows that this is exactly what this new tournament will deliver and we all look forward to hugely successful event next year.”
“We are extremely pleased that the ATP World Tour will be coming to South Africa from 2009 onwards,” said Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer, South African Tennis Association. “We are delighted at the prospects of having some of the world’s best players compete in our beautiful country and inspire our youth to reach new heights. This is a massive boost for the game in South Africa and we wish to thank the ATP, SAA and all the players for their tremendous support.”
The ATP and SAA partnership will also see a number of exciting joint promotions on ATPtennis.com, the world’s most popular tennis website and a new series of in flight tennis programmes and publications for SAA’s 6.5 million annual passengers.