"This would have happened in 2023": Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova's 'moral courage' halted WTA Finals move says tennis journalist

Friday, 05 April 2024 at 22:30
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Tennis journalist Jon Wertheim commented on social media that Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova prevented the WTA Finals from being held in Saudi Arabia in 2023. Although negotiations took place throughout the year, uncertainty persisted until 6 weeks before the tournament, when the WTA decided that Cancun would be the venue.
Saudi Arabia's interest in investing in tennis gained momentum in 2023; they secured the Next Gen ATP Finals, which are held in Jeddah until 2027, and hoped that the WTA would also host their Finals there, which ultimately did not happen.
American legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova vehemently opposed Saudi Arabia acquiring the rights to the WTA Finals, citing the well-known human rights issues, women's rights, and LGBTQ+ rights concerns in the country.
"Let the record reflect: this would have happened in 2023 but for the moral courage of @ChrissieEvert+ @Martina," Jon Wertheim wrote on X (former Twitter).
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Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert at 2023 WTA Finals
At the beginning of this year, Navratilova and Evert penned a letter to The Washington Post expressing their concerns about hosting the WTA Finals in Saudi Arabia. They highlighted that the values of the country do not align with those of the WTA.
"The WTA’s values sit in stark contrast to those of the proposed host. Not only is this a country where women are not seen as equal, it is a country where the current landscape includes a male guardianship law that essentially makes women the property of men.
“A country which criminalizes the LGBTQ community to the point of possible death sentences. A country whose long-term record on human rights and basic freedoms has been a matter of international concern for decades," Navratilova and Evert wrote.
"The WTA must stand for human rights so long as inequality for women exists in the world. We offer this from our experiences: A champion is carved not just from trophies, or earnings, but from the decision to surrender comfort and luxury to make hard choices and take principled stands."

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