Anne Worcester, the first female chief executive of the women’s WTA Tour and one of the most experienced leaders in international sports, will join Universal Tennis, which owns the Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), as president.
“Worcester will be instrumental in overseeing the growth and development of UTR worldwide,” Universal Tennis said in an emailed press release.
“Beyond her leadership at the organization, her focus at the outset will be on increasing grassroots efforts to connect communities to the sport and fostering diverse partnerships within the tennis ecosystem to build participation on the platform,” the San Francisco-based company said.
Worcester, of the US, was tournament director of the Connecticut Open in New Haven for 21 years until the event was sold to a company that moved it to China earlier this year. It had been one of the best-attended tournaments on the WTA calendar.
Under her leadership, the Connecticut Open was widely recognized as a leading example of leveraging professional tennis to build community tennis, especially among inner city youth. A graduate of Duke University with over 35 years of experience working with players, tournaments, sponsors and governing bodies, Worcester will be based in New York City and Connecticut.
UTR, which runs on software by Oracle, was founded in 2008 by Dave Howell, a Virginia tennis pro. UTR, which wants to make tennis more accessible by giving each player a ‘tennis handicap’ was bought last year by a group of investors including Tennis Channel and sports investor Iconica Partners, for an undisclosed sum, Sports Business Journal reported at the time.
The UTR platform, which is free for all players, has attracted a host of high-profile investors, including Larry Ellison, executive chairman and chief technology officer at Oracle, Roger Federer’s management company, TEAM8, and the top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia.
“What drew me to Universal Tennis is its digitally savvy approach to make tennis more affordable, accessible and fun for all players,” said Worcester.
“Level-based play helps to break down some of the biggest barriers to our sport, so that it’s not about age, gender, where you play or how much you can afford,” she said. “UTR makes it easy to find, connect and play with same level tennis partners, anytime and anywhere. This addresses many of the challenges I have experienced all my life as a recreational player, a parent and 35 years on all sides of professional tennis.”
Mark Leschly, chairman and chief executive of Universal Tennis, said: “Anne has an exceptional career in tennis, marked by her commitment to improving the game for players and serving as a champion for tennis worldwide. Her dedication to the betterment and growth of the sport is unparalleled.”