The Auckland Classic, a small New Zealand tournament with a prize pool of just $220,000, sold out all of its day session tickets before play started for the first time in its 25-year history.Why just the day sessions, instead of the traditionally more attractive evening sessions?
Because Maria Sharapova is scheduled to play exclusively during the day, Reuters notes.
Sharapova’s presence has generated so much excitement that spectators lined up for exhibition matches and practice rounds, according to the article
While Sharapova’s household name has something to do with the record draw, the tournament boasted five players in the top-20 last year, and has featured Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki, Lindsay Davenport, and Jelena Jankovic in recent years without the same box office success.
So unless you really believe the 23-year-old Russian’s No. 18 ranking is generating unprecedented excitement, this is just the latest example of the importance of attractiveness in female tennis. Obviously, fans aren’t going to come out just to see a beautiful woman, but they also won’t buy tickets in great numbers just to see good tennis. In women’s tennis, fans crave the combination.
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