ISTANBUL, Turkey - The 42nd edition of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships was a record-setting event both on and off the court.
For the second straight year, attendance at the Sinan Erdem Arena for the week exceeded 70,000 fans, this time getting to 73,072, the highest at a season finale since 2000. There were also record crowds for both the semifinals (15,498) and finals (16,410) since the event moved to Istanbul in 2011.
The tournament was hosted by 22 international TV broadcasters reaching 167 countries, making it the widest reach of a WTA Championships to date. The 500 overall hours produced was an increase of 25 percent, and included live matches, match replays and highlights. Nearly 42 million fans were able to follow the on-court and behind-the-scenes action via WTA social media and digital platforms, leading to a record-setting week for wtatennis.com.
Speaking of social media, fan engagement on Twitter and Facebook increased by 300% from a typical week. Also, for the first time fans around the world were able to log on to the WTA's Google+ page and view WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster's State of the WTA Address live.
"The TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships bring our amazing 2012 to an appropriately thrilling final chapter, with a truly unique tennis atmosphere," Allaster said. "The best of the best competed intensely on the court, breaking records along the way, with the Championships' success demonstrating the global reach and strength of women's tennis. The Sinan Erdem Arena packed with enthusiastic tennis fans for six straight days is a testament to the Ministry of Sport and Turkish Tennis Federation's efforts in executing, promoting and organizing this world class event."
The battle for the year-end title brought the Top 8 singles players in the world to Istanbul and for the first time, each player was from a different country. Among the WTA Championships' records set were longest match time, most games played in a best-of-three-set match and longest tie-break.
Both year-end No.1 Victoria Azarenka and WTA Championships titlist Serena Williams surpassed the $7 million prize money mark for 2012, the first time in the sport's history that two players earned more than $7 million in a season.
"Istanbul is a great host of the Championships and fans have been tremendously supportive of the tournament," Williams said. "The crowds were amazing and gave us such strong support from Day 1. I had an unbelievable time in my first trip to Istanbul and I hope this tournament continues to get more people, especially kids, involved in tennis."