WTA an­nounce ma­jor changes

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

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