Saudi Arabia To Host WTA Finals Until 2026: Expanding Influence in World Sport

Saudi Arabia will host the WTA Finals for the eight best female tennis players of the year until 2026. The WTA players’ association announced this on Thursday. The kingdom is thus emphatically expanding its influence in tennis on its way to becoming the desired center of world sport.

The capital Riyadh will host the hard court tournament for the next three years, the WTA announced. The event, which took place last October in Cancun, Mexico, is the highest-paying tennis tournament in terms of points and prize money after the Grand Slam tournaments.

Tennis icons Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova had recently criticized those responsible at the WTA in light of speculation. “We didn’t help build women’s tennis so that it could be exploited by Saudi Arabia,” wrote Evert and Navratilova in a salty article for the Washington Post, criticizing, among other things, the status of women’s rights in the country.

Just a few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia entered into a “multi-year strategic partnership” with the men’s players’ association ATP through its sovereign wealth fund (PIF). There had recently been speculation that the desert state wanted to unite the ATP and WTA tours.

Saudi Arabia had recently intensified its efforts in tennis and, among other things, hired 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal as an ambassador. For the first time, the desert state is hosting a top-class show tournament with a total of five Grand Slam winners in October, right in the middle of the ATP season. In addition to Nadal, Grand Slam record champion Novak Djokovic and Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner will also be playing at the “Six Kings Slam” in Riyadh.

While Saudi Arabia is internationally criticized for the human rights situation there, the kingdom has been making headlines for years as the host of major sporting events. It is well known that the Saudis want the 2034 World Cup – and will probably get it – and the biggest fights in boxing are now taking place in Riyadh, and in golf the LIV Tour is poaching numerous top players. Critics accuse the country of sportswashing.

2024-04-04 12:27:00
#Saudi #Arabia #brings #WTA #finals #desert

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