Though a lot of focus has been on the players and all of the obstacles they’ve had to endure this past month and year, reporters like this week's guest Blair Henley have had to adjust, too. Henley is a recognizable face on the tour as one of the top digital media creators and stadium hosts out there.
After her own playing career wrapped up at Rice University, Henley got her start making instructional videos for Tennis Now and writing for outlets like TENNIS Magazine. Since 2015, she has been a stadium host at some of the most popular calendar stops such as the US Open, Cincinnati, Indian Wells, Newport and Delray Beach.
Her job is to put the players, and the tournaments, on the map.
"Whether you're in pandemic times or not, it’s those times where you’re sort of sitting there figuring out what can we do to make the most of this tournament in terms of publicizing our sport?" Henley said. "And getting attention from people who maybe don't know the nuts and bolts of tennis, but can relate to a player telling a joke or doing a lighter segment in a Facebook Live."
She tells us all about her career and what it has been like to get quality time with big names like Roger Federer, while building relationships with new faces like Coco Gauff and Sebastian Korda. She explains how her work has been impacted by the pandemic, though it hasn’t been all bad: Zoom has made journalism possible from anywhere in the world.
To start of the year, she was one fate lucky few on site at Delray Beach. During the Australian Open, she did online interviews called “Quarantine Chronicles” with Victoria Azarenka, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rajeev Ram for her YouTube channel.
"These circumstances are unusual, but in general we’re always looking for other ways for players to open up off the court and give us their thoughts on a match," Henley says. "I think that [virtual press] is going to continue long after we don't have to do this anymore.
"I think it's great to be able to do an interview where you don't have have the person sitting next to you and it's standard now."
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