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Larry Scott resigns as WTA Tour chief

LARRY Scott is resigning after six years as chairman and chief executive officer of the WTA Tour to become a commissioner in a US college sports conference.

Scott will remain with the women's professional tennis circuit into June, the tour said yesterday. He will work with the tour board to select his successor.

"It was not an easy decision. I've been in tennis my whole life," Scott said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. "I realized after 20 years that I maybe had done the most I could do in this sport."

Scott became the CEO of the WTA in 2003, after having been ATP chief operating officer and president of ATP Properties.

Under his watch, the WTA pushed for - and got - equal prize money for women at Wimbledon and the French Open.

"Despite all the financial success and commercial success, by far the achievement I'm most proud of is equal prize money," Scott said.

His biggest disappointment as he prepares to leave?

"I regret that I couldn't convince the men's tour that a merger with the women's tour would make sense by making tennis a bigger, stronger enterprise," Scott said.

The announcement that he was leaving the tour came a little more than a month after perhaps the biggest controversy of his stay: Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates and wasn't able to compete in the Dubai Championships.

The WTA eventually fined the tournament organizers a record US$300,000 and made them post a US$2 million performance guarantee to ensure Peer and other Israelis won't be shut out of future tournaments in the Emirates.

Under Scott, the tour says it has seen a 500 percent increase in sponsorship revenue, a 250 percent increase in overall revenues, a 40 percent increase in prize money and US$710 million in new stadium investments.

He helped the tour land the largest sponsorship deal in the history of women's sports with Sony Ericsson at US$88 million over six years. The announcement of his resignation came on the eve of the start of the Sony Ericsson Open on Key Biscayne.

"Under Larry's leadership, the tour and our sport have grown over the past six years beyond anyone's wildest expectations," said Steve Simon, tournament board representative and chairman of the tournament council.

Scott helped the tour change its calendar and rules to shorten the season and lessen the strain on players, and it landed the largest deal ever for the year-end championships in Doha, Qatar from 2008-10. Innovations under Scott included electronic line calling, on-court coaching, pre-match players interviews, interviews with coaches during matches and a new doubles scoring format.

He will take over at the Pac-10 conference on July 1.


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