| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

Tennis Channel and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), the governing body of women's professional tennis, have extended their programming agreement through 2016, ensuring the network's place as the year-round home of such stars as Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, and sisters Venus and Serena Williams. The six-year deal keeps at least a dozen Premier-level tournaments on the network each season, as well as the WTA's year-end Championships, which will take place in Istanbul, Turkey for the period 2011-2013.

Tennis Channel has been the television home of WTA tennis since 2004. Under the new agreement, the network will continue to hold U.S. television rights to at least a dozen Premier-level tournaments from Australia and Asia to Europe and the Middle East. This is highlighted by its coverage of the women's season-ending competition, the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which features the season's top-eight singles players and top-four doubles teams battling for WTA's year-end world number one ranking. This year's tournament takes place in Istanbul Oct. 25-30. Tennis Channel will air every match of the six-day event.

"Tennis Channel has been a fantastic partner for the WTA," said Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA. "The extensive coverage and promotion that they provide for our WTA events has been a key ingredient in the growth and popularity of women's tennis in the United States."

In total, the rights extension represents 170-to-190 live or first-run match hours per year on the network. Tennis Channel also gains "TV Everywhere" rights under the extension.

"Women's tennis is uniquely valuable in the world of major professional sports, with star power, sponsorships, prize money, ratings and ticket sales that are the envy of so many others," said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO of Tennis Channel. "Stacey and the WTA have built the foremost brand in women's sports today, and a critical component of our on-air schedule. Year-round women's competition is one of the most important things that set Tennis Channel apart from any other network."

The WTA's Premier-level tournaments are the most significant events on the women's tennis calendar. On top of at least a dozen weeks of these tournaments, Tennis Channel airs more than 30 other women's tennis events, offering a regular, week-after-week schedule of women's tennis throughout the year. These include the four majors: Wimbledon, U.S. Open, French Open and Australian Open.

In addition to the year-end championships, the WTA Premiere tournaments that are part of the agreement and slated to air on Tennis Channel in 2012 are: Brisbane International (Brisbane, Australia) Medibank International (Sydney), Open GDF SUEZ (Paris), Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), Qatar Ladies Open (Doha, Qatar), Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart, Germany), Internationali BNL d'Italia (Rome), Mutua Madrid Open (Madrid, Spain), Brussels Open (Brussels), AEGON Classic (Eastbourne, England), Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), China Open (Beijing) and Kremlin Cup (Moscow). Tennis Channel's complete, year-round tournament schedule can be found online at www.tennischannel.com.

The WTA broadcast rights extension comes on the heels of recent long-term rights extensions Tennis Channel has made with the French Open (through 2022) and Wimbledon (through 2023).