This week, Micky Lawler, president of the WTA, visited Montréal and IGA Stadium for the very first time.
In addition to taking part in the Women in Business presented by Rogers event on Wednesday, she made the most of her time here and spent a few days at the women’s edition of the 2018 Rogers Cup. To say she was impressed by the facilities would be an understatement.
“I think the team has invested, and continues to invest, a lot in looking into ways to keep improving the event,” she affirmed. “It was my first time here. Eugène took me around the venue and explained the history of how it went from a baseball stadium, to the city, state and federal governments bringing investment together to build a specific tennis facility because the baseball team moved to another arena.”
Lawler, who was appointed president of the WTA in 2015, has seen her share of tennis facilities in her career. In Montréal, she especially likes how fan-centered the tournament is: “In the way that the seating is commercialized and the fan village is laid out, it’s very clear to me—someone who visits many tennis facilities around the world—that the thought here is really fan first. That’s the right way to think, obviously.”
“That always translates to the fans knowing that their voices and habits are studied and made a priority. I think that’s number one.”
And a roof?
Micky Lawler had only praise for Eugène Lapierre and his initiative and drive to lead the project to build a roof over Centre Court at IGA Stadium to stop the rain from wreaking havoc on the tournament schedule.
“He’s always looking for the next best thing. How can we make this better and better and better? Never resting on his laurels,” she said. “We’ve had rain. Other tournaments are solving that by becoming rainproof. And that’s futureproof. So, considering the market here in Montréal, I think it would be great. It’s also expensive.”
“Is it a prerequisite or necessary? No, but it’s probably coming. If I were a betting woman, I’d say it’s likely coming at some point in the next five to ten years.”
When asked for suggestions to improve certain aspects of Rogers Cup, she is categorical in affirming that the event in Montréal rivals the Tour’s most prestigious tournaments: “The team here is best in class. It’s such a pleasure to be here because, in fact, we’re working on our Finals moving forward. You get a lot of ideas here on what to do, what to avoid. It’s perfect.”
“For fans, there’s not a bad seat in the house. We’ve looked at all of them. The atmosphere is very inclusive. The player facilities are amazing; the people are amazing. It’s one of the best tournaments in the world, for sure.” Coming from Micky Lawler, such an influential voice who possesses some 30 years’ experience in tennis development, Rogers Cup will proudly take the compliment.