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Dubai Duty Free serves ace with women's tennis

Dubai Duty Free has served up another round of sponsorship for the Women's Tennis Association.

Women's tennis has proved a smash hit for Dubai Duty Free, which has renewed its multimillion-dollar sponsorship of the sport's governing body.

The airport retailer has extended its partnership with the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for three years, it said yesterday.

Dubai Duty Free first partnered with the WTA in 2004 and will continue as a sponsor until the end of 2014.

"We have seen a steady increase in the return of investment on our WTA sponsorship," said Colm McLoughlin, the executive vice chairman of Dubai Duty Free.

The deal was a "multimillion-dollar agreement", according to a statement issued yesterday by Dubai Duty Free and the WTA.

Mr McLoughlin declined to specify the value of the sponsorship.

The deal is to include an initiative called the Dubai Duty Free Player Ambassador Programme, to be supported by key tennis players.

It also includes the naming rights for a short TV series called the Dubai Duty Free Full of Surprises Travel Show, which is expected also be shown online.

"One of our objectives has been to increase our exposure both online and in the broadcast media," Mr McLoughlin said.

The deal includes sponsorship of the WTA's end of year world number one singles and doubles awards, and an association party held prior to the Wimbledon championship.

The airport retailer will remain the title sponsor of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which comprises men's and women's competitions and is due to be held in Dubai next month.

Dubai Duty Free - which reported turnover of US$1.46 billion (Dh5.36bn) last year - also sponsors Dubai World Cup horse racing. It recently renewed that deal for a further three years.

Mr McLoughlin said the company was looking to renew one other deal but was not considering sponsoring other events.

"At this stage, we are not looking at expanding our sponsorship portfolio to any great extent, but we are actively focused on consolidating and investing in our existing sponsorships," he said.

"The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby agreement is due for renewal this year and we are looking at that," he added.

The WTA said it has obtained $160 million of revenue over the past 18 months through sponsorship agreements with companies including BNP Paribas and Rolex.

However, it was dealt a blow late last year when it emerged that Sony Ericsson, its title sponsor, would not be renewing its agreement when it expires at the end of this year.

The Sony Ericsson contract - worth a reported US88 million (Dh323m) over six years - was one of the largest in the history of tennis when it was signed in 2005.


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