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ESPN secures ATP and WTA tennis rights

By
Novak Djokovic

© Juergen Hasenkopf/Rex Features

ESPN has secured UK and Ireland TV rights to tennis events set to feature stars such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray, as it looks to expand its sports offering and draw in subscribers.

The Disney-owned broadcaster has snapped up a series of ATP World Tour 250 events for 2012, as well as three WTA international tournaments.

This follows ESPN's acquisition of various other sports rights, including live darts for the BDO World Professional Darts Championships and golf with the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Open tournaments.

ESPN's UK channel launched in 2009 after the broadcaster picked up the Premier League rights following the collapse of Setanta. The network still offers 23 Premier League games live each season, but also broadcasts European football, rugby union, cricket and other sports.

The new tennis coverage will see some of the biggest stars in the world compete on the ATP circuit for ranking points ahead of the Grand Slams.

ESPN's coverage of the ATP World Tour 250 begins on April 13 with the US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, followed by the Estoril Open in Portugal and the Open de Nice Côte D'Azur, both in May.

These events will lead up to the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, which will be shown live on sports channel rival Eurosport and ITV for the first time this year.

Alongside showing seven more ATP events from July to September, ESPN will also offer coverage of three WTA International events - clay tournaments in Estoril and Strasbourg, and the season finale indoor Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Sofia.

"As we continue to expand our content in the UK and Ireland, we're delighted to add outstanding tennis tournaments from the ATP and WTA circuits," said Jeroen Oerlemans, the vice-president of TV channels at ESPN EMEA.

"Through ESPN.co.uk and other media around the world, ESPN has a long and extensive association with tennis that we will look to expand in the UK and Ireland as we broaden our range and depth of sports programming."

> Eurosport renews French, US Open rights deals
> Sky Sports, ESPN agree new five-year SPL rights deal

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