altSEPTEMBER 16 - THE Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)  announced that life assurance and pensions company AEGON has a signed a five-year £25 million deal to become the first ever lead partner of British Tennis.


The company, whose deal with the LTA will officially begin next year and run through until 2013, will be involved in all aspects of the sport including the parks and schools programmes, supporting key junior elite athletes.


They will also hold naming rights to the international pre-Wimbledon grass court events including the AEGON Championships at  Queen’s Club, the AEGON International at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne), and the AEGON Classic at the Priory Club in Edgbaston.


AEGON will be involved in all aspects of the development of the sport making that officials hope will help promote and build the sport of tennis across Britain.


It is the second major sports sponsorship that the Dutch company, founded in 1983, have signed this year following a seven-year deal with Ajax, Holland's best known and most successful football club.


AEGON UK chief executive Otto Thoresen said: “British Tennis is at a breakthrough stage in its development and it is a very exciting time to be involved in the sport.


"AEGON is delighted to become the lead partner of British Tennis and our investment over the next five years will enable the sport to grow from grassroots level, encouraging more young people to take up the sport, through to elite performance level, where we can support our leading athletes as they seek to make an impression on the world stage.


“We see a number of similarities between British Tennis and AEGON as we look to take our UK business on to a new phase of growth.


"It’s a strong partnership and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.”


British tennis is already the richest in the world thanks to the financial success of Wimbledon.


Since 1981, when the surplus exceeded £1 million for the first time, the LTA has received  more than £500 million.


During that time, Britain has seen only three players advance to the world's top 10: Tim Henman, from Oxfordshire, Greg Rusedski, who was born and raised in Canada, and recent US Open runner-up Andy Murray, who has been criticial of the help he has received from the LTA.


LTA chief executive Roger Draper said: “We are delighted that AEGON has joined us as the lead partner of British Tennis in what is a very exciting time for the sport.


"We are looking forward to developing a close working partnership with them over the coming years. We share a joint desire to grow the sport at all levels from our major international events and supporting elite young players to improving facilities and access across the country and AEGON will play a vital role in this.”


insidethegames reported in June that the LTA were seeking to sign up a major sponsor.


Further work will take place on the rest of the commercial programme, LTA officials, said which they hope will raise a further £6 million.