Sony Ericsson to end WTA title sponsorship

Sony Ericsson is to drop its title sponsorship of the Women’s Tennis Association’s tour after the two agreed a new two-year extension to their partnership.

Maria Sharapova
Tennis star Maria Sharapova

The deal will see the mobile phone maker become a global sponsor of the women’s professional tour until the end of 2012.

However, it will no longer be title sponsor of the tour, which will revert to its official WTA Tour name, or of the Tour’s year-end Championships from the end of this year.

Sony Ericsson signed an $88m six-year title sponsorship deal in 2005 that expires at the end of 2010.

The value of the two-year extension has not been disclosed but Sony Ericsson’s investment is said to be less.

The telecoms firm has seen sales slump during the economic downturn. It reported a net loss of €167m (£237m) for the fourth quarter of 2009 on a 40% drop in sales.

The company dropped its headline sponsorship of summer music event Ibiza Rocks in January 2009 after four years.    

As part of the WTA deal, Sony Ericsson will retain prime net signage at the Tour’s 53 tournaments and its “significant” television and digital media rights.

Despite losing its title sponsor, WTA tour chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster says the two-year extension is a “real sign of strength and stability, and testament to the investment value delivered by our players and tournaments”.

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