Last week, every time it was announced that Tonic by Martina Hingis was the official clothing sponsor of the Southern California Open, I felt uncomfortable. For Hingis's company to agree to sponsor Carlsbad sounds exciting, but there's a catch: Hingis was entered in the tournament. I realize that these are hard times, but having a tournament entrant sponsor the event is simply not appropriate.
I have no objection to Hingis's line being sold at the tournament, just as Venus Williams' clothing is sometimes sold. Perhaps I should, but the money being exchanged, in that case, is between fans and the clothing company. I had no objection, in fact, when the Family Circle Cup held an after-hours event in which players and fans wore EleVen on the court. The tour can--and does--promote its players in different ways.
But being an actual tournament sponsor is another matter. I wonder, too, if--on some level--those in charge were making a statement about the relative significance of doubles competition. I really can't imagine their allowing EleVen, for example, to be the clothing sponsor. But perhaps I'm underestimating the economic crisis--or overestimating the ability of organizers to see the view outside their own world.