Indian Wells executive Steve Simon to take over as WTA CEO

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Steve Simon is the unanimous choice to take over as the new CEO of the Women's Tennis Association, the board of directors announced Monday.

Simon has been the tournament director and chief operating officer of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells since 2004. The moves comes 13 days after Stacey Allaster announced her resignation for personal reasons.

Simon, who has spearheaded the growth of Indian Wells into the largest event outside the four majors since becoming COO in 2004, will relinquish his role with the prestigious event next month.

"I am humbled, and at the same time, very excited about the opportunity that has been presented to me by the board," Simon said in a statement released by the WTA. "I will be focused on building upon the successful platforms that have been put in place by my predecessors, Stacey Allaster and Larry Scott, with a sole focus on driving excellence and innovation, while creating a premium experience for the fans."

Under Allaster, the WTA saw unprecedented prosperity, with a prize-money increase of more than 50 percent -- a total that reached $150 million this season. Allaster ensured greater visibility for the tour, attracting record television visibility while also influencing more global exposure. In the past seven years, eight events were added to the Asia-Pacific swing, including the prestigious year-ending championships in Singapore.

In the same statement, luminaries and star players heaped praise for the decision to hire Simon. "Steve Simon is the right person for the job," Billie Jean King said. "His track record is marked by success. He is thoughtful, respectful and he has excellent business judgment."

WTA world No. 1 Serena Williams agreed with King's sentiments.

"When I returned to Indian Wells this year, Steve could not have been more helpful, professional and supportive," Williams said. "I know how much he cares about the opinions of the players. He's a good listener and he has our best interests in mind."

Said Maria Sharapova: "Steve is a strong leader and someone who thinks big about our sport. Every year, Indian Wells gets more innovative and better. I'm glad to see him become our CEO."

Simon said he has no doubt Indian Wells will continue to flourish, but that he is ready to take on new endeavors.

"I am humbled and excited about the opportunity, and leave the tournament knowing that the team in place, under the guidance of Moore and owner Larry Ellison, will continue to excel and keep the BNP Paribas Open as one of the best events in the world," Simon said in a separate statement given to the BNP Paribas Open.

Simon will likely begin his new role full time starting Nov. 30.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.