WTA finals: grosky scenes and uprising of the tennis players

Tennis Chaos in Cancun

The revolt of the world’s best tennis players

As of: 4:33 p.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes

Freezing in the rain: World number one Aryna Sabalenka wrapped herself up during a break in the game

Those: AP/Fernando Llano

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The best tennis players in the world are angry and disappointed – and not just because of the WTA finals, which are currently turning into a disaster. The list of their points of criticism is long, as an incendiary letter shows.

The bosses of the women’s tennis tour had imagined everything so beautifully. Spectacular pictures from Cancún, Mexico, directly on the Caribbean Sea, including dream beaches. It should be the perfect setting for the best players of the year to end their season. But instead of a mixture of summer idyll and spectacular tennis, the WTA finals deliver grotesque scenes: freezing players, flying trash cans and blown balls.

The highlight of the season has long since degenerated into a farce, even before Iga Swiatek from Poland and Jessica Pegula from the USA face each other on Monday evening in the final, which was postponed by a day due to the chaos in the weather.

Rain chaos instead of a dream tournament: The WTA can’t do anything about the weather, but it’s about something else

What: REUTERS

Even before the million-dollar event began, there had been strong criticism of the conditions in Cancún. Because the WTA had only named the Mexican coastal metropolis as the venue at very short notice, the preparations had not yet been completed when the players arrived in Mexico. The result: Unlike usual, training sessions on Center Court were hardly possible. “This is unacceptable to me when there is so much at stake,” said world number one Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus.

Incendiary letter a month ago without the expected effect

The frustration among the best players in the world is great – and it is not new. At the beginning of October, numerous stars in the industry expressed their dissatisfaction with developments in women’s tennis in a fire letter to WTA boss Steve Simon. Higher prize money, better tournament planning, improved child care – the list of points of criticism is long. What particularly bothers the players is that they are not heard or included.

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The letter to the decision-makers dated October 5th therefore explicitly requested a written response from WTA boss Simon by October 13th. But that didn’t happen. The four-time Grand Slam tournament winner Swiatek even wrote a personal letter to Simon in which she once again clearly addressed the demands and criticisms and called for “real change”.

No fun for anyone: Jessica Pegula keeps herself warm

Quelle: Getty Images/Matthew Stockman

Instead of the desired answers in writing, Simon invited the players to a meeting in Cancún. But there too, the WTA boss didn’t give the answers the players expected – which is why, according to information from “The Athletic”, the players left the room before the end of the meeting. The fact that those responsible for the players’ union PTPA, founded by Novak Djokovic around three years ago, were not invited also caused anger.

When asked by the dpa, the WTA did not respond much to the points of criticism. Instead, the organization praised itself for the positive development in recent years. “We are proud of what we have achieved and look forward to continuing the important discussions with the players and tournaments and continuing to work on a strong future for women’s tennis,” said the WTA.

And to Saudi Arabia in 2024?

But for the American Simon, who has been at the top of the WTA for eight years, the uprising of the players and the disaster in Cancún could still be dangerous. The 2022 WTA finals took place in Fort Worth, Texas, almost behind closed doors. “It will be difficult for Steve to keep his job,” said 18-time Grand Slam tournament winner Martina Navratilova on Amazon Prime. “Maybe it’s time for new leadership.”

The WTA is a women’s organization, but has only had two women at the top in all these years. “I think it’s time that when we get new leadership, we get a woman again,” said the 67-year-old Navratilova. “There are enough women who have the qualities for this.”

The debates about the WTA finals do not end with the final in Cancún: Saudi Arabia, which has been criticized for human rights violations, is a hot candidate for the coming editions.

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