Tue | Aug 11, 2020

Burke looks to make mark at WTA

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2020 | 12:00 AMLennox Aldred - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Burke

Jamaica’s Brandon Burke is creating waves on the women’s professional tennis circuit, as the former player has been elected as the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) player representative alternate on the association’s board.

Burke, whose appointment will take effect in September, has already begun getting his feet wet following weekly meetings, as the WTA ramp up their efforts to get professional women’s tennis back up and running following the long break due to the coronavirus disease.

The 27-year-old Burke, who represented Jamaica at all levels for close to two decades, says he is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work in women’s professional tennis, adding that he aims to make a difference on the business side of the sport.

“I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity because it’s the kind of job if I had got at 50 or 60, it would still be a huge thing in my career, and to have got it at 27 is amazing,” said Burke.

Burke, who is now an attorney based in Canada, will become the first Jamaican to sit at that level. He will join Iva Majoli, Michael Segal and Venessa Webb on the player board, engaging with the players’ council members and the player ranking groups they represent dealing with issues such as players’ safety, prize money at tournaments, along with tournament schedules.

GLOBAL LEADER

Founded by Billie Jean King in 1973 on the principle of equal opportunity for women in sports, the WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 1,650 players representing 84 nations competing for a record US$180 million in prize money.

With several professional sports slowly making their way back, Burke says the WTA is keeping fingers crossed that the tour, which began in January and was halted just before the Indian Wells tournament in March, can resume next month.

“We are facing a timeline of a lot of close decisions with a provisional calendar out and tennis scheduled to hopefully start back in August. There is still a lot of details and moving pieces, but I think we are doing everything that we can to give it the best chance to start.”

The 2020 WTA Tour includes 55 events and four Grand Slams, spanning six continents and 29 countries and regions. The season is expected to culminate with the Shiseido WTA Finals in Shenzhen, offering US$14 million total prize purse and honouring the season’s top singles and doubles players.