ITC to sponsor South Asia's biggest women's tennis tournament

MUMBAI: ITC Limited - Foods Business today announced that it will sponsor the largest ever women's tennis event in South Asia - The Sunfeast Open 2005, that will be held in Kolkata.

The Sunfeast Open 2005 is a new event that is being added for the first time to the WTA Tour championships, and will feature some of the world's leading players as well the new generation of Indian stars led by Sania Mirza and Shikha Uberoi.



The Sunfeast Open 2005 will be played at Netaji Indoor Stadium from 19 - 25 September, 2005 with prize money of $170,000. The tournament is being brought to Kolkata by Globosport, the sports management company owned by Mahesh Bhupathi, under the auspices of the Government of West Bengal.



Speaking on the occasion, ITC Limited - Food Business marketing head Hemant Malik said, "ITC as a company has always believed in ensuring India has access to the best in the world. ITC Foods' sponsorship of the Sunfeast Open 2005, Kolkata is a continuation of this proud tradition. With the explosion of talent in women's tennis in India, the Sunfeast Open 2005 Kolkata, will allow Indians to see a new generation of Indian women take on the best in the world in their own backyard. The perception of India being a one-sport country is about to change and the Sunfeast Open 2005, Kolkata, will be a major catalyst for that change."



Yesteryears tennis legends such as Jaideep Mukherjee and Premjit Lall will play host to this tournament. West Bengal chief minister has extended all co-operation and support in ensuring the success of this event and is keen to make it an annual feature.

Indian Tennis ace, Bhupathi, said, "People always ask who will step up after Leander and I are gone... and the answer is to look at a different place, women's tennis. Internationally women's tennis has a huge following, and to be a women's tennis star is to be a global sports icon. People like Sania, Shikha and Neha have made giant steps in that direction and have the potential to be role models for millions of women across India. Thanks to the vision of the West Bengal Government and Corporates like ITC Foods, we have a platform for these girls to keep improving thereby paving the way for future champions in India."

Bhupathi also announced that he had already spoken to some of the leading players on the women's tour. "Having played tennis for about 15 years now, I am fortunate to count some of the leading players in the world among my friends. I've already initiated talks with some of them and while it is a little early to announce the names, India is in for a special surprise, and we can expect one of the true giants of the women's game in India for the event."

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