Steve Simon named new chief executive of Women’s Tennis Assn.

Steve Simon gestures before the start of the women's tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., in March.

Steve Simon gestures before the start of the women’s tennis final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., in March.

(Billie Weiss / Associated Press)

Steve Simon, a leader in tennis innovation on the pro tour for the last decade, is leaving the prestigious Indian Wells tennis tournament to become chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Assn.

Simon, currently tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells will replace Stacey Allaster, who held the job for the last six years. Allaster had replaced current Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.

“I hope to continue to improve what Larry built and what Stacey grew,” Simon said Monday.

Simon, 60, had been tournament director at Indian Wells since 2003 and had been connected with the event in various management capacities since 1989. The Indian Wells, Calif., tournament, played each year in mid-March, attracted 456,000 fans this year and continues to be the best-attended tennis event outside of the four majors in the world.


Much of that was due to Simon’s innovations, including cutting-edge technological changes that embraced things such as Hawkeye line calling devices on all courts, not just the main show courts. He also oversaw the recent addition of a new 8,000-seat Court 2, a stadium that features three restaurants.

His goals in his new job will be similar to his accomplishments in his old one.

“I want to lead the WTA Tour in the delivery of premier entertainment and excellence to tennis fans,” Simon said.

Simon will retain a home in Huntington Beach, but will relocate to WTA headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla. He said he will have a 60-day transition period in which he eases out of duties in the desert and eases into his new WTA duties.

He said he expected his tournament director duties to be assumed by current Chief Executive Raymond Moore.

The Indian Wells tournament is owned by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison.