Women’s boss wants WTA Finals to close season
Women’s Tennis Association chief executive Steve Simon said he wants the WTA Finals to become the last event of the season from 2019, meaning a likely swap with the ongoing Elite Trophy in Zhuhai.
Simon said the Elite Trophy, which features 12 players ranked roughly from nine to 20, should precede the WTA Finals, the traditional season finale which has the women’s top eight and which finished on Sunday.
“Several years ago they were flipped,” Simon told reporters at the $2 million Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province.
“It is something I would like to see changed going forward. It won’t happen in 2018 but for ’19 and beyond it would be my goal to see the WTA Finals as the last event of the year, no question.
“I think it’s something that we have to fix long term.”
Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki won the WTA Finals in Singapore on Sunday, but this week’s less prestigious Elite Trophy will now round off the arduous women’s season.
Simon said he had no plans to cut back on the busy end-of-year schedule, which is focused on Asia and is often hit by a spate of injuries and retirements as the long season takes its toll.
Simon admitted that the tour had a “crowded and mature calendar,” but he said scrapping Zhuhai, or any other Asian tournament, was not necessarily the answer.
“What sport do you play where at the end of the season players aren’t tired, they’re not held together by tape, ice and aspirin?” he quipped.
“Based upon the investments that have been made it’s very hard to tell somebody we don’t want you anymore... That can hurt you too.
“So you have to respect the investment that’s been made and see how you can get creative and make it work.”
Zhuhai has built a new tennis center with a 5,000-seat center court, while Wuhan has a main stadium for 15,000 spectators, similar to Wimbledon. The Tianjin Open also has a purpose-built facility.
Simon said China had “a great desire” to develop in tennis, following Li Na’s breakthrough achievement in winning two Grand Slam singles tournaments before retiring in 2014.
Kristina Mladenovic of France hits a return in her match against Julia Goerges of Germany during the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai 2017 at Hengqin Tennis Center on Friday in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province.