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ILANA KLOSS

CEO / Commissioner, Mylan World TeamTennis

PERSONAL:
Born:   March 22, 1956
Birthplace:   Johannesburg, South Africa
Residence:   New York, N.Y.

Photo:  Fred Mullane/Camerawork USA


Mylan World TeamTennis CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss knows firsthand how the sport of tennis can connect and inspire. At age 11, she was a ball kid for the South African Open, a men’s and women’s pro tournament in Kloss’ native South Africa. One of the top players hit a few balls with her and told Kloss’ father Shlaim that his daughter had real potential. That was all an aspiring young tennis player needed to hear. “When I heard that I really began to dream about the possibilities and work towards being the best player I could be,” said Kloss.

Four decades later, Kloss is still inspired by tennis, now as the CEO/Commissioner of Mylan World TeamTennis which was co-founded by Billie Jean King in the 1970s. While King’s current role is primarily as a spokesperson, advisor and global ambassador, it’s Kloss who heads up the day-to-day efforts to secure sponsorships and grow the team tennis concept both in the U.S. and internationally. Kloss’ primary focus is on national sponsorships, strategic planning, media partnerships and expansion of Mylan WTT. The league celebrated its milestone 40th season in July 2015, one of only five major pro sports leagues in the U.S. to reach that mark. 

Kloss is now one of the most accomplished women on the administrative side of sports.  She is also actively involved in the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) as a member of the executive board and past WSF board chair.  A member of both the National and International Jewish Sports Halls of Fame, she was named Sports Businesswoman of the Year by the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center in 2007.  Kloss serves on the executive boards of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Billie Jean King WTT Charities and the Tennis Industry Association. She is also a co-founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative.

Kloss was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted during the Maccabiah Games in July 2013.  In September 2010, Kloss was honored by the U.S. International Club (USIC) with the Sarah Palfrey Danzig Award for her contributions as a player and administrator.  She was also recognized as a Gamechanger in October 2011 by Sports Business Journal as one of the top women in sports business.

In early 2009, Kloss brought the United States Tennis Association (USTA) on board as a minority owner of World TeamTennis.  The USTA works with WTT on a number of growth initiatives, including youth participation in team tennis. 

Kloss’ passion for WTT’s unique coed format and community appeal is evident when she speaks about how Mylan WTT stands out in the sports landscape. “WTT is about both men and women competing together on a level playing field. Our vision is to grow tennis and make it a true team sport. With Mylan WTT, we are able to bring the best professional players to local communities where kids can see them working together as a team. That’s an important inspirational message.”  

“Mylan WTT is also about giving communities a sense of ownership in tennis and a connection to our players,” adds Kloss. “We provide a level of access and involvement fans generally can’t get with other sports.” 

Kloss was just a kid herself when she became the youngest No. 1 in South African tennis history at age 17.  By the time she turned 20, she was the top-ranked doubles player in the world, winning doubles titles at the U.S. Open, Italian Open, U.S. Clay Courts, German Open, British Hard Courts and Hilton Head in 1976.  Kloss also added the 1976 French Open Mixed Doubles Championship with Kim Warwick. She also represented South Africa in Fed Cup competition from 1973-77.

Kloss played World TeamTennis for several years (San Francisco, Oakland, Long Beach, Miami Beach) before becoming a team coach.  She guided the Chicago Fyre to the 1983 WTT title before joining the League full-time as Player Liaison in 1985.  The transition from the courts to the office was a smooth one for Kloss who took over as WTT Vice President in 1987 and eventually succeeded King as WTT Executive Director in 1991.  Kloss was named CEO/Commissioner in February 2001.


WTT EXPERIENCE:

PLAYER/COACH: 

Kloss started with WTT in 1974 as a player for the San Francisco Golden Gaters and returned to the League in 1981 with the Oakland Breakers.  Kloss went on to play for WTT franchises in Long Beach, Calif.; Miami Beach, Fla., and Oakland, Calif., during the 80s.  She coached the Chicago Fyre to a WTT Championship in 1983. 

1974, ’75, ’78

San Francisco Golden Gaters

1981

Oakland Breakers

1982

Los Angeles Strings

1983

Chicago Fyre (coach)

1984

Long Beach Breakers

1985

Miami Beach Breakers (player/coach)

 

LEADERSHIP: 

1985-86

WTT Player Liaison

1987-91

WTT Vice President

1991-2001

Executive Director

2001-present

CEO/Commissioner

 

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS – ON COURT

  • World’s best doubles player in 1976, winning doubles titles at the U.S. Open, Italian Open, U.S. Clay Courts, German Open, British Hard Courts and Hilton Head. 
  • Won 1976 French Open Mixed Doubles crown with Kim Warwick. 
  • Youngest player ever to be ranked No. 1 in her native South Africa.
  • Won Wimbledon (1972) and U.S. Open Junior (1974) titles before turning professional. 
  • Highest career singles ranking of #19 (Feb. 1979). 
  • In 1973 Kloss won three gold medals at the Maccabiah Games, capturing the singles, doubles and mixed titles. She picked up her fourth Maccabiah gold medal in 1977, winning the women’s doubles.
  • Has won four Grand Slam Masters titles (U.S. Open over-35 doubles and mixed doubles champion in Sept. 1999; and Wimbledon over-35 doubles championship in July 2001 and July 2003).
  • Represented South Africa in Fed Cup competition from 1973-77.

 

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS – OFF COURT

  • Co-founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative.
  • Currently serves on the Executive Board of the Women’s Sports Foundation and is a past WSF Board Chair (2006-08).  
  • Elected to International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (inducted July 2013).  Kloss was also inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
  • Honored by the U.S. International Club with the Sarah Palfrey Danzig Award for her contributions as a player and administrator (Sept. 2010). 
  • Named as the “Sports Business Woman of the Year” by the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center in May 2007.
  • Current board member of the Tennis Industry Association.
  • Former board member of the Women’s Tennis Association.
  • Currently serves on the executive boards of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Billie Jean King WTT Charities.
  • Presidential appointee to the USTA Executive Committee (2009).
  • Oversees WTT Smash Hits, a charity event co-hosted by Billie Jean King and Sir Elton John.  Since its inception in 1993, more than $14 million has been raised for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and local AIDS charities.

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