In a strategic move to address concerns and foster a new era in women's tennis, WTA chief Steve Simon will step down from his current role as CEO, while retaining a pivotal position as executive chairman. The decision, part of a broader organizational restructuring, aims to bring renewed focus to the WTA's mission and objectives. Simon, who has held the dual role of chairman and CEO for the past eight years, faced criticism, particularly regarding the controversial decision to host the WTA Finals outdoors in Cancun, Mexico.
The WTA's revamped structure signifies a separation of responsibilities, with the incoming CEO entrusted with the management and expansion of operational aspects. Simon, in his new capacity as executive chairman, will concentrate on governance, the WTA's strategic interests within the sport, integrity matters, and exploring new markets for the organization. Additionally, Simon will continue to chair the board of WTA Ventures, a recently established commercial entity.
Amidst the changes, the WTA affirmed its commitment to achieving key objectives, such as the growth of the sport and ensuring equal prize money for women by 2033. The quest for a new CEO is underway, with global executive search firm Korn Ferry supporting the process. Simon expressed a preference for a female candidate, emphasizing its alignment with the organization's long-term interests.
The decision to hold the season-ending WTA Finals in Cancun, just two months before its commencement, triggered discontent among players, notably from world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka. Acknowledging organizational shortcomings, the WTA accepted responsibility and pledged reforms to address concerns raised by players, including those related to tournament scheduling.
Simon clarified that his decision to step down was not influenced by events in Cancun or any perceived challenges throughout the year. Instead, he emphasized the organization's substantial growth over the past eight years and the need for a more focused approach in separate leadership roles. Concurrently, Micky Lawler, who has served as president since 2015, is set to depart the WTA at the end of the year, opening the door for new opportunities.