This summer, I went to Florida to work at the Women’s Tennis Association. It is hard to explain, but I have always been a strong advocate for women’s tennis (I’m sure growing up with three sisters helped fueled this interest). I found out about this position in late May, when our team was competing at the NCAA tournament in Mississippi, and jumped on the opportunity. As soon as we got back to campus I took the first flight out to Florida, and was excited for the upcoming adventures.
As I got off the plane in Tampa, I realized this was the first time I was arriving at a location where I didn’t know anyone. It was unusual to walk out of the airport without anyone to pick you up. Instead, I followed the signs to a shuttle service and tried to figure out how to get to my next location. One of the WTA employees kindly let me stay at his place for the first couple of days, so I could figure out my housing situation for the rest of the internship. Living in the house system at Harvard really spoils you, as all the accommodations are taking care of. Similarly, living on your own is a wake-up call for what life will be like after college.
The first day of work is always interesting. You are excited, but pretty nervous as you are keen to make a good first impression. All my anxiety quickly evaporated as I climbed up the 11th floor of the building and saw the gorgeous view the WTA headquarters had of the St. Petersburg Gulf. At the WTA, I was an intern for the Communications and Digital Team. The Communications Team handles the tournament reports for each event. We use this program, ICAD, to generate the draws, pull up player records, match-ups, etcs. We are also in charge of planning some of the social events at the major tournaments. My timing at the workplace was great, as we covered two of the four major tournaments in my eight weeks. We started with the French Open, which went rather smoothly, but Wimbledon was going to be a greater undertaking. As part of the Digital Team, we were in charge of all the video content at the premier tournaments, as well as the distribution of our content over our social media sites. I worked on the digital team at the Pac-12 so I was more familiar with the work in this area.
This year also marked the 40th anniversary of the Women’s Tour, and we were in charge of two events at the Wimbledon Championships. We helped organize the Pre-Wimbledon Red Carpet event, as well as the 40-Love Party. The 40-Love Party was a once in a lifetime event as we had 17 of the former 21 world #1 players attended( including many greats such as Margaret Court, Martina Navratalova, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Monica Seles). The up and coming players were also invited, truly bridging the generation gap. This event was broadcasted live on our youtube channel, and was definitely a great event for any tennis fans(here is the link to the video: WTA 40 Love Event).
Looking back, I can’t believe that eight weeks have already passed by. Everyone in the office was really nice and wanted to make sure I had a great experience. For years, I have been an advocate for women’s tennis, and many people questioned me about it, but it wasn’t until this summer where I found my answer. Tennis is unique as it is one of the few professional sports that offer equal prize money for men and women. In other professional sports(basketball, soccer, hockey) there is a huge income gap between the men and women athletes. Living in the 21st century, I think gender equality is an important topic, and feel that equality across professional sports can set an example for countries that struggle with gender equality at the socioeconomic level. With equal pay for men and women tennis athletes, we giving young aspiring tennis stars the chance to achieve gender equality, even though it may their own not be accepted by their country.
The opportunity to give female athletes the chance to follow their dreams is one of the main reasons I enjoyed working for the WTA. This coupled with the enthusiasm from the employees made each day exciting and vibrant. Working for the WTA has been quite the experience, and I leave Florida with many great memories. For the rest of the summer I will be traveling in France competing in tennis tournaments. Stay tuned!