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Monday March 08, 2010

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In Partnership with UNESCO, “Heroes Among Us” Recognizes Role Models and Mentors Who Empower Women in Local Communities Around the World

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced today the debut of its second annual “Heroes Among Us” global campaign, which recognizes parents, teachers, coaches and community leaders who have encouraged young women to pursue their dreams. The “Heroes Among Us” program asks fans across the world to nominate someone who has made a difference in the lives of young women in their community. The initiative follows in the footsteps of the Tour’s landmark global partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to raise awareness of gender equality issues and create leadership opportunities for women.

“The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour was founded by Billie Jean King on the principles of equality and opportunity for all, and for 37 years we’ve been proud to carry on the tradition of encouraging young women to strive for success,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. “Every single player on Tour has had to overcome hardships and challenges in their career and they’ve gained strength through inspiration and hard work, becoming role models to millions of women around the world. Together with our partner UNESCO, the Tour remains committed to the principles of gender equality and opportunities for women and motivated to inspire a new generation of community heroes.”

The inaugural grand prize winner of the “Heroes Among Us” program, launched during the 2009 season, was India’s Suniti Marathe, a high school teacher who showed leadership and commitment to serving as a role model and mentor to young people in her community of Goa. Marathe was nominated by her son because of her commitment to educating youth in local villages. Marathe, who runs a library and teaches out of her home, also travels to neighboring villages to teach and to distribute books and uniforms to needy children. She has gotten numerous children in the area to read books and believes that reading not only improves knowledge, but helps improve awareness.

To make a nomination, fans can visit www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/heroesamongus and share insights into what makes their nominee a hero. In addition, nominees can be named and honored by participating Tour events in their local markets.

Nominations will be reviewed by an advisory panel consisting of officials from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and UNESCO, as well as Tour players. Five finalists will be announced on October 1, 2010, on www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/heroesamongus where fans can cast their vote for the annual “Heroes Among Us” recipient. Online voting will take place from October 1-8, 2010. Criteria include a clear demonstration of the improvement of young women’s lives, a positive impact on individual(s) as well as the greater community and/or a role in supporting gender equality. The winner, based on fan votes, will receive a prize package for two to attend the Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha 2010, including tickets to the final match, roundtrip airline tickets, accommodations, select ground transportation, behind-the-scenes access at the tournament and tickets to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Year-End Party in Doha, Qatar.

The program celebrates the Tour’s legacy in promoting gender equality for close to four decades. As the world's leading professional sport for women with more than 2,225 players representing 91 nations competing in 53 tournaments and four Grand Slams in 33 countries, the Tour has not only provided the opportunity for women to excel at the highest level of sport, but inspired millions of girls worldwide who dream big.

“UNESCO has designated Gender Equality a global priority and in that context, it promotes leadership opportunities for women around the world. It also celebrates those who have made an impact on their communities and showcases their accomplishments,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “Through our partnership with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, we seek to advocate, both on the global and national levels, the critical importance of gender equality and the leadership of women for development and for the creation of just societies.”

Billie Jean King and current Tour players Venus Williams, Vera Zvonareva, Tatiana Golovin and Zheng Jie serve as UNESCO Promoters of Gender Equality to help raise awareness about issues of importance to women worldwide, and to create leadership opportunities for women through the funding of programs in Cameroon, Liberia, Dominican Republic, China, Jordan and the United States. These players are also featured in the Tour’s “Looking for a Hero” campaign, which helped inspire this unique program. The “Looking for a Hero” advertising campaign shows what strong, powerful women can achieve when given the chance. The campaign portrays the Tour’s players as modern-day superheroes both on and off the court.

Since 2006, the global UNESCO-Sony Ericsson WTA Tour partnership has been focused on furthering gender equality and promoting women’s leadership in all spheres of society. For more information on the program, including rules and guidelines visit www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/heroesamongus.


The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is the world’s leading professional sport for women with more than 2,225 players representing 91 nations competing for more than $86 million in prize money at the Tour’s 53 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. More than 4.9 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2009 with millions more watching on television networks around the world. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season concludes with the Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha 2010 in Doha, Qatar, from October 26-31, and the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia, from November 4-7. Further information on the Tour can be found on the Internet at www.sonyericssonwtatour.com.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was created on November 16, 1945. As a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNESCO contributes to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. Paris-based UNESCO provides a platform where global challenges for humanity can be addressed on the basis of equality among Member States. Founded on the principles of universality, diversity and dignity, UNESCO's actions continue to be guided and shaped by a set of commonly shared values that include justice, solidarity, tolerance, sharing, equity, respect for human rights, including women's rights, and cultural diversity, pluralism and democratic principles. As mandated by its Constitution, UNESCO helps to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men. Further information on UNESCO can be found on the internet at www.unesco.org and the Partnership at www.unesco.org/women or www.unesco.org/genderequality.




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