WTA announce major changes
WOMEN’S tennis will be boosted by a new grasscourt tournament in 2015 as part of the Wimbledon build-up, while Asia’s footprint will continue to grow, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said this week.
With a longer grasscourt season already agreed, allowing players a week more to adapt after the lengthy claycourt swing, the WTA has slotted in a new tournament on grass at Nottingham in England.
“The creation of a three-week gap between Roland Garros and Wimbledon will establish a longer and more significant grasscourt season within the international tennis calendar,” said Philip Brook, chairman of the All England Club and Wimbledon.
In 2014, there will be 54 WTA Premier and International events and six 125K Series events, with the geographic spread to include 23 in Europe, Middle East and Africa, 17 in Asia-Pacific, and 14 in the Americas.
One of the big events already scheduled in Asia will see Singapore hosting the prestigious year-end WTA Championships for a record five years between 2014-2018.
The WTA said they will stage a record six WTA Premier and International tournaments in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and four WTA 125K Series events in Asia.
A new Premier event in Wuhan, the home of the 2011 Roland Garros Champion Li Na, will make its debut, in addition to two inaugural International tournaments in Hong Kong and Tianjin.
In comparison, there were only two WTA events in China during the 2012 season.
“The WTA calendars continue to deepen the reach of women’s professional tennis into unprecedented markets to help grow our global fan base far and wide,” said Stacey Allaster, chairman and chief executive of the WTA.
“Together with the continued success and growth of the China Open and the launch of the year-end WTA Championships in Singapore for the first time in 2014, the WTA’s Asia growth strategy is in full force.”
Next year, the WTA will host two events in Brazil for the first time – the Rio Open joining Florianopolis. – Sapa-AFP