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The ITF's Katrina Adams stays on the front lines for women with the Tory Burch Foundation Sports Fellowship
In conjunction with the International Tennis Federation's Advantage All program, the fellowship is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for a female sports entrepreneur.
Published May 02, 2023
WATCH: Katrina Adams with Kamau Murray on the TENNIS.com Podcast
The International Tennis Federation is comprised of over 200 national and regional associations, including some of the most diverse countries in the world. But while each member is given a seat at the sport’s governing table, not everything about them is equal. That’s where the ITF’s Advantage All program, created to help elevate women in tennis, both on and off the court, comes in.
There are countless examples of how Advantage All has used its five-pillar approach—balance, value, voice, culture and empowerment—to inspire women in their personal and professional lives, but perhaps none better than a few years ago in Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia named the first female president of their [tennis] federation,” Katrina Adams, ITF VP and Chair of ITF Equality in Tennis committee, proudly states. “That was simply unheard of before, but because of our program, many women around the world have been empowered and inspired. To the point that the woman from Saudi Arabia wanted to run for president.”
Around the same time, a woman from Guyana who never thought she could compete with her country’s tennis hierarchy also decided to run for its presidency. She won, too.
“It’s happening, one by one,” says Adams. “You’re making change, one woman at a time.”
Their wins are wins for Advantage All, and another victory is on the horizon in the form of the Tory Burch Foundation Sports Fellowship. The global lifestyle brand’s foundation, partnering with the ITF, strives to support women’s entrepreneurship, and a new fellow in the athletic world will be its latest beneficiary.
In, as Adams puts it, a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” a sports entrepreneur will receive:
- Financial resources: a $5,000 educational grant from Tory Burch Foundation, plus access to 0% interest loans via Kiva
- Digital education: One year of live workshops, specialised working groups and resources from an extensive video and article library
- Fellows Lab: the opportunity to pitch to investors or business experts, with real-time feedback and guidance on tackling your business challenges
- Premier Peer Network: The opportunity to collaborate with other alumni and advisors through online networking and small group sessions, with access to networking events to help them on their journey.
- One-on-one mentorship: An opportunity to connect with a personal mentor to provide guidance and support throughout the Fellowship journey
“There are huge barriers for women business owners,” says Adams. “Our mission is to fight for an equal shot for all in sports and business.”
The fellow will receive similarly global benefit: a trip to the Billie Jean King Cup Finals and a meeting with its namesake, who espouses the same inspirational values.
While Adams hopes to find a woman in the tennis space, she’s primarily focused on furthering the message of Advantage All, and continuing to fight for a still-underserved professional population.
“Less than two percent of venture capital funding goes to women,” Adams takes pains to note. “For women of color, it’s even bleaker. They’re just not getting the support.”
As a culture change continues to take place in all aspects of society—not without familiar and new obstacles—Adams is on the front lines, helping everyone recognize a “diversity of thought,” not just in board meetings, but in media.
“We have to do better,” she says, simply but firmly.