TENNIS: BBC to air Queen’s Championships until 2017

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The BBC has extended its partnership with Queen’s Club to broadcast the AEGON Championships for a further five years, ensuring that the prestigious event will stay on terrestrial television until at least 2017.

The traditional Wimbledon men’s warm-up tournament to will continue to receive at least 20 hours of live free-to-air coverage across all BBC platforms, including TV, Red Button and online.

It will extend the long-established association between the BBC and Queen’s Club into its 40th year.

The new deal also runs in tandem with the BBC’s exclusive broadcast rights to screen the All England Championships at Wimbledon, which was renewed last October and will also run until 2017.

In a joint announcement, the LTA also confirmed that British number one and reigning champion Andy Murray has committed to play at Queen’s for at least the next five years.

Murray, who made his professional debut at the tournament in 2005 as an 18-year-old, has lifted the historic trophy on two occasions.

In 2009 he became the first British champion at the event for 71 years, since Henry Austin’s win in 1938.

Last year he secured his second Queen’s title with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets.

AEGON Championships 2012 Final – Tsonga v Murray – Andy’s trick-shot
Pictures: BBC Sport

Both of last year’s finalists have signed up to play in 2012, along with 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and four-time Queen’s champion Andy Roddick.

Tournament director Chris Kermode told the BBC: “For Andy (Murray) to commit to the AEGON Championships for the next five years on the same day as we announce the extension of our host broadcaster agreement with the BBC for the same duration is fantastic news for the tournament.

“Andy is hugely popular with our spectators and I know they will be as delighted as we are to welcome him back to the Queen’s Club until at least 2016.”

The BBC began screening the of the pre-Wimbledon grass court tournament in 1979, known as the Stella Artois Championships until 2008, and has been won by some of the sport’s greatest names such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.

High definition coverage was introduced for the first time in 2009, which was the year that the tournament received a make-over with new title sponsors AEGON.

In 2012, all seven days of the tournament will be broadcast live on BBC TV, with coverage also on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website.

Barbara Slater, BBC Director of Sport, said: “The AEGON Championships are a prestigious part of the tennis calendar and we’re delighted to be continuing our coverage of the tournament.

“With former winners such as Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Boris Becker, and the 2011 Champion Andy Murray back defending his title, it’s clear to see the great heritage of the championships.

“We’re delighted that our viewers will be able to enjoy coverage across our TV, radio and online channels.”

Roger Draper, Chief Executive of the Lawn Tennis Association, said: “The AEGON Championships has a proud history and a very bright future, so it’s very exciting to extend our partnership with the BBC in telling the story of this great tournament, and in promoting our sport.”

The AEGON Championships will also be broadcast live on British Eurosport, with the pan-European broadcaster also set to screen other pre-Wimbledon grass court events including the AEGON International at Eastbourne.

ITV will cover grand slam tennis for the first time in May/June after taking over the rights from the BBC to screen the French Open at Roland Garros.

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AEGON Championships 2012

Live on the BBC – June 11-17

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