Career How Citi Taste of Tennis Has Changed the Game

by the editorial team at Citi | August 20, 2019

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Tennis and cooking: the two disciplines are more connected than you might think. And their common ground is on full display at Citi Taste of Tennis.

It’s a celebration that gathers some of the sport’s elite players along with dozens of the brightest stars on the culinary circuit. Each tennis season the event series pops up in cities across the U.S. to coincide with select tennis tournaments, giving fans a chance to meet some of their favorite players and snack on signature dishes from standout local chefs.

But even its most devoted attendees may not know the history of Taste of Tennis and the two enterprising women who made it possible. Two decades ago, Judi and Penny Lerner — a mother-and-daughter team and co-founders of AYS Sports Marketing — organized the inaugural event. It was one of the first original productions of their then-budding business. The August 2019 installment in New York, marks the 20th anniversary of Taste of Tennis.

“We started this company together in 1996,” Judi Lerner says proudly. “Taste of Tennis is a total family affair,” she adds. “Penny and I are so proud of that.”

Through their company and its marquee event, the Lerners have been a force for positive growth in tennis and in the culinary space. One of the most important legacies of AYS — and, likewise, of Taste of Tennis — has been its commitment to fostering female leadership within its ranks and to help elevate female tennis players and chefs.

“These women are movers and shakers,” says Penny Lerner, “and we want to be able to capture their dream and showcase them.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by the SeeHer initiative — a movement dedicated to advancing gender equality in media and entertainment — of which Citi is a proud sponsor. And much like how SeeHer’s mission gains momentum through the powerful work of change agents and women-led businesses like AYS, the Lerners credit Citi and its connection to SeeHer for “help[ing] us build our business to be better,” Penny says. “It helps us influence more young women. It helps us create more leaders.”

John Isner, a top-ranked pro tennis player and the Citi Taste of Tennis Ambassador, is quick to praise them and their impact.

“They're two incredible women,” Isner says. “They do a lot of good as well.”

These women are movers and shakers, and we want to be able to capture their dream and showcase them.
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Don’t miss the video above for more of the Lerners’ empowering success story.