Venus Williams, Andy Roddick join WTT ownership group

Venus Williams, Andy Roddick join WTT ownership group

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WTT announced Monday that Williams and Roddick will join majority owner King and a group of four other part owners that includes the U.S. Tennis Association.

“It’s important to have the younger generation involved in our strategic planning,” King told The Associated Press by phone. “We feel these two are exceptional human beings, not just on the court but off the court.”

Roddick, who retired from tennis after the U.S. Open, is looking to start a team in 2014 near his home of Austin, Texas.

“Obviously, it’s never a bad thing to stand beside Billie Jean King in any venture,” he said.

He and Williams will still play for their WTT teams during the July 7-28 season. Williams leads the two-time defending champion Washington Kastles; Roddick will play for the Lasers of Springfield, Mo.

The former top-ranked players will help identify new markets and reach out to potential owners, sponsors, fans and players. The league this season added a new title sponsor, the pharmaceutical company Mylan; moved its Kansas City, Mo., team to Irving, Texas; and plans to expand to 16 teams by 2018, WTT Commissioner Ilana Kloss said.

“I believe in Billie and Ilana’s vision for tennis,” Williams said by phone from the Madrid Open. “For us to continue to grow the sport, we have to be more inventive. We have to capture the attention of fans and capture the attention of young people.”

In 2009, the USTA became a 25 percent owner of the league in an effort to expand the USTA Junior Team Tennis program. The WTT’s kid-friendly atmosphere helps introduce them to the sport with mascots, coaches, cheerleaders and music between games. Free rackets are offered at the clinics.

Williams said her entire family went to the clinic hosted by the tennis great at Billie Jean Moffitt King Park.

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