The worst-kept secret in tennis confirmed: Saudi Arabia move set for WTA Finals in three year deal

WTA
Thursday, 04 April 2024 at 14:55
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Some would say the worst kept secret in tennis has been confirmed with the WTA Finals set to be hosted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 2024 onwards in a three year deal.
Taking place between 2024-2026, the tournament has been confirmed for November 2-9 this year featuring the top eight singles players and doubles teams. The agreement will offer $15.25m prize money, a record amount. Further scope is set for increases in 2025 and 2026.
This move has come under some scrutiny with human rights laws surrounding woman and those who fall under the LGBTQIA+ banner seen as negative. Those in Saudi Arabia and also Ons Jabeur who is the leading light in the Middle East have attempted to alleviate those fears. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert though were outspoken about the move calling it a backward step for tennis. Jessica Pegula was the latest to comment before the move was confirmed and was positive after due dilligence.
But positively it gives the WTA Finals a home for the next few years. Something the tournament has been lacking for a long time since the Shenzhen deal went up in smoke, Cancun in particular shone a dim light on the WTA due to the chaos that ensued and player revolt was very much underway. The reaction to this move though will be mixed despite many seeing it coming.
Photo - Imago
Iga Swiatek with the trophy after the WTA Finals 2023 edition in Cancun fraught with issues and chaos. Will be one of the leading lights in Riyadh.
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO, said: “Bringing the WTA Finals to Riyadh is an exciting new opportunity for us and a positive step for the long-term growth of women’s tennis as a global and inclusive sport. We’ve been impressed by the commitment shown by the Saudi Tennis Federation to grow the sport at all levels, and we have no doubt that players and fans can look forward to a world-class event in Riyadh as the finale to the 2024, 2025 and 2026 seasons.”
Arij Mutabagani who is President of the Saudi Tennis Federation and the first elected female president of any Saudi Arabian sports federation, said: “Hosting the WTA Finals is absolutely huge for the future of tennis in Saudi Arabia and growing sport in general, especially amongst our young girls. And that’s entirely our focus, to inspire future generations of players and celebrate women’s tennis. We want to help them to believe that they too belong on centre court, as seeing is believing. Through the tournament we have the potential to power the dreams of millions of young people who are looking to a bright future and a world of new opportunities.
“Everyone will be made to feel extremely welcome. Our country is moving forward. Much has been achieved already and many historic steps taken by women in all sectors in recent years, with sport driving much of the progress across our entire society. So, we have real momentum and hosting the world’s best tennis players in Riyadh will only accelerate our transformation and help grow the game further.”

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will host the next three editions of the WTA Finals from 2024-2026. The 2024 season-ending Finals will take place November 2-9, featuring the top 8 singles players and doubles teams in the Race to the #WTAFinals

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