By Justin Cohen
Report: IMG Worldwide to be sold in 2013
According to an article by Rachel Adams in Variety, private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. is preparing to put its powerhouse sports agency IMG Worldwide up for sale next year. Observers say the sports event management and marketing giant could fetch as much as $2 billion. Goldman Sachs has been informally helping Forstmann prep IMG for a sale, according to knowledgeable sources. IMG’s global operations include robust sports marketing, event management, licensing, fashion, representation and production businesses. It also handles retailing and licensing for the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which organizes the Wimbledon tennis tournaments. Forstmann Little acquired IMG in 2004 for around $700 million shortly after the death of IMG founder Mark McCormack. IMG has been a critical player in tennis since it was founded; among other things, it currently represents Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, runs the Sony Open in Miami, and negotiates broadcast rights for Wimbledon and the WTA.
According to an article written by Daniel Miller in The Hollywood Reporter, Tennis Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors has signed with talent agency APA in all areas. APA will look to extend Connors’ brand across all platforms, from broadcast to endorsements and publishing. Connors’ memoir, The Outsider, will be published by Harper on May 14. The California native is also represented by Michael Blakey of Electra Star Management. Connors won 109 ATP titles while playing professionally, including five U.S. Opens, two Wimbledon’s and the Australian Open once.
Connors announces ESPN 30 for 30 special on Twitter
Jimmy Connors tweeted this week that he just finished filming an ESPN 30 for 30 special, which will air in early summer. The screenwriting/directing duo of Brian Koppleman and David Levien produced the special. The ESPN special is supposedly going to focus on Connors’ miraculous run at the 1991 US Open title at the age of 39 years old.
Willerton named new head of Tennis Integrity Unit; Rees retiring
After more than four years on the job, Jeff Rees is retiring as head of tennis’ integrity unit. Former police officer Nigel Willerton will replace him on January 1, 2013. Rees was hired as Director of Integrity in August 2008 after helping review possible match-fixing in professional tennis. During the over four year tenure of Rees, two tennis players were banned for life. Willerton has served as an investigator for the Tennis Integrity Unit since June 2010.
LACOSTE releases new tennis shoe collection
LACOSTE has released a taste-of-the-future collection of professional tennis shoes. This special line is also in the spirit of innovation that the brand was founded on 75 years ago by René Lacoste, himself a tennis champion winning titles at the French Open, US Open, Wimbledon and the Davis Cup, before he launched the LACOSTE brand of polo shirts in 1933. REPEL features TPU toe protection and has sculptured memory foam underneath the inner sole which absorbs shock and impact. The Internal midsole gives players the feeling of being lower to the ground so that they get a better feel for the court and a unique inner heel gel pack offers added support and impact absorption. The shoe also has a TPU midsole support system and there is a moisture management lining to keep feet cool and dry. A multi-directional rubber sole provides high abrasion resistance, and a roll-stop system gives players extra help pushing off and stopping dead on the court. The shoe has performance leather uppers which are breathable, durable and lightweight. The TPU honeycomb design on the side gives a unique look while providing superior support and breathability to the foot. GRAVITATE features the same hi-tech design elements as Repel, but instead of the TPU honeycomb design it has a finger-like stripe lace system that literally wraps around the player’s foot, providing the utmost comfort and support. Gravitate is available for men only in white/red and white/blue.
Djokovic and Williams named 2012 International Tennis Federation World Champions
The International Tennis Federation announced on Tuesday that Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are the 2012 ITF World Champions. This is the second successive year Djokovic has received the honor, while Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the third time. Americans Bob and Mike Bryan are named Men’s Doubles World Champions for the ninth time in 10 years, while Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy become Women’s Doubles World Champions for the first time. Canada’s Filip Peliwo and Taylor Townsend of USA are named ITF Junior World Champions, while the ITF Wheelchair World Champions are Esther Vergeer of Netherlands and France’s Stephane Houdet. Vergeer becomes world champion for an astonishing 13th successive year. The ITF World Champions will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on Tuesday 4 June, in Paris, during Roland Garros. “I am proud to have been named ITF World Champion for the second successive year. It was very difficult to follow up such a successful season in 2011, but it was extremely satisfying to win another Grand Slam title, reach two other major finals and finish the year at No. 1,” said Djokovic. “It means a lot to be named ITF World Champion for the third time. It has been such an amazing experience this year to win the Olympics and two Grand Slam tournaments, and I look forward to having an awesome 2013,” said Williams.
Djokovic buying the world’s entire supply of donkey cheese
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has said he is buying the world’s supply of expensive cheese made from donkeys. The Serbian sensation has bought up all of the cheese produced in his home country, which is known as pule, according to Britain’s Daily Telegraph. Pule, a smoked donkey’s milk cheese that comes in a white, crumbly form, comes with such a high price tag because one kilogram of the delicious delicacy requires 25 liters of donkey milk. The cheese costs $500 per pound.
Pennetta to play doubles with Kuznetsova in 2013
Italian Flavia Pennetta told La Gazzetta dello Sport that she will play doubles in 2013 with Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova. Pennetta’s longtime doubles partner, Gisela Dulko, just recently announced her retirement from professional tennis. Pennetta also mentioned to the newspaper that she has split from longtime coach Gabriel Upri and will now work with Karim Perona and Salva Navarra. Navarra once worked with successful Spanish singles players Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo.
Top Tennis Volunteers Honored at 2012 USTA Florida Awards Weekend in Orlando
More than 250 USTA Florida volunteers, staff and tennis community members gathered to celebrate the movers and shakers in Florida recreational tennis at the United States Tennis Association-Florida Section’s 63rd Annual Awards and Volunteer Celebration Weekend, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. Highlights of the weekend included a Meals of Hope event where volunteers packaged dry-food meals for homeless in the Orlando area, and activities such as national speakers, the annual awards, the 2012 “Future Forecast” for recreational tennis, tennis play events, the “Breakfast with the Stars” major awards and feature videos, and more. “What a wonderful weekend, on Saturday featuring Jon Gordon, best-selling author and our keynote speaker, starting the day with his principles for a positive attitude,” said USTA Florida Volunteer Development & Meetings Manager. “We were joined by Delaine Mast, a USTA National board member, who shared information on the state of tennis worldwide. Our awards honored those individuals who have meant so much to the association in the past year. Sunday night featured the ‘Meals of Hope’ event where volunteers and staff packaged approximately 40,000 meals for the homeless in the Orlando area.” Winners at this year’s event included Kiwi Tennis Club in Indiana Harbour Beach (Member Organization of the Year), Joe D’Aleo Family of Santa Rosa Beach (Tennis Family of the Year), Lyn Brunner of Fort Myers (Volunteer of the Year), Terri Floria of Jacksonville (Merit Award – Female), Phil Girardi of St. Petersburg (Merit Award – Male), Jo-Ann Zirpoli of Niceville (Hall of Fame Award), Steve Feig of Miami Beach (Spirit of Tennis Award), Barbara Eisner Bayer of Hillsboro Beach (Media Excellence Award), Pam Scudder of Lehigh Acres (Official of the Year), Fred Drilling of Estero (Male Player of the Year), Mary Ginnard of Fort Lauderdale (Female Player of the Year) and Rodney Harmon of Miramar (Junior Competitive Coach of the Year).