***Mark Raynes Roberts is a world-renowned, multi-award-winning goldsmith, crystal artist and designer. Born in 1961, in Sutton Coldfield, England, he has resided in Toronto, Canada since 1982. Over the past quarter-century, Raynes has achieved world-wide acclaim for his crystal masterpieces and iconic award designs. Recipients of his work include international leaders in business, the arts, sports and sciences. In 2001, and again in 2002, Raynes Roberts was commissioned by Tennis Canada to create the WTA and ATP Rogers Cup tennis trophies for both Canadian Tennis Championships. The trophy has become a recognizable icon on the tennis circuit. For more information, visit http://www.markraynesroberts.com.***
ONcourt: How did you become involved with the creation of the WTA and ATP Rogers Cups?
Mark Raynes Roberts: In 2001 I approached Stacey Allaster (now CEO of the WTA) who was then VP of Marketing at Tennis Canada as they were seeking a new sponsor for the tournament since DuMaurier had ended their sponsorship of the event. As a keen tennis player myself who grew up in England and had been to Wimbledon, creating the Canadian Tennis Championship trophies was a dream project. The idea behind the “Excalbur” crystal racquet came from the myth of King Arthur, where he pulls the sword from the stone, whereas the Champion pulls the racquet from the crystal and granite base. The mens trophy “Global Spin” was commissioned a year later in 2002 and has been won by all the current top four seeds in the world.
ONcourt: How did the concept of the cup arrive to you?
MRR: It was evident from the brief I was given by Tennis Canada that they did not wish to create a traditional country club type trophy, preferring to have me design a contemporary sculpture more in keeping with Rogers communications.
I developed several sculpture designs but the one which I felt worked most successfully was “Excalibur” even though it may not have been quite as out there! The importance of the “Excalibur” I felt lay in the theatre of its presentation which could be further highlighted through TV and media outlets.The creation of a successful trophy I beleive lies heavily on it becoming “iconic” overnight and as synonymous as the brand sponsoring the event. I feel the Rogers Cup trophy has achieved this status for Rogers Communications, as it has become a familiar icon on the professional tennis circuit.
ONcourt: What did you want to purvey through your design?
MRR: The key elements in both the mens and womens trophies has been to develop original designs with a contemporary global feel, which would appeal to the international tennis audience.
ONcourt: How many trophy presentations at the Rogers have you been at?
MRR: I have met many of the top mens and womens tennis players since 2001 at the Rogers Cup, and have been photographed with many of the Champions who have won the trophy. Meeting Roger Federer, Justin Henin and Kim Clisjters were highlights, plus some of the tennis legends such as Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles who I have also presented with special crystal commissions from Tennis Canada for their service to the game.