"Those grass courts are absolutely fantastic!": Martina Navratilova voices concern as Eastbourne International mooted for downgrade

Wednesday, 17 April 2024 at 19:30
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Martina Navratilova has expressed concern about the Lawn Tennis Association's (LTA) plan for the Eastbourne International ahead of its 50th anniversary. The tournament is likely to be downgraded to a WTA 250 event, which would restrict the number of top-30 players to a maximum of three.
The LTA's plan is to create a new women's event at Queens that precedes the men's version. This event would take place one week after the French Open to kick off the Grass season. This would be a significant blow to the Eastbourne International, considering it has been played since 1974 and has been the premier women's tournament as a warm-up to Wimbledon.
Navratilova holds the record for the most individual titles in Eastbourne with 11 trophies: "That would be a shame,” posted the 18-times Grand Slam champion. “Those grass courts are absolutely fantastic!"
"I've got lots of great memories. I've been playing there since its conception in 1974, so I feel we have sort of grown up together. It's always nice to be there because there's such a relaxing atmosphere.
"You can walk to the courts from the hotel and walk to the restaurants, you don't even need a car. When the weather is good it's as good a place to be as any, especially in the build up to a Grand Slam. It's as good as it gets really."
Madison Keys is the reigning champion at Eastbourne International
LTA's Chief Executive Officer, Scott Lloyd, has stated that the proposed move to London is driven by the potential increase in earnings that would come with relocating the event:
“The reality of that location [Eastbourne] is commercially limited to some degree. Given we invest in that temporary infrastructure for Queen’s each year, we think we will be successful in selling out and giving the women’s event that level of visibility, which is greater. It’s not about looking to concentrate our tournaments in London, so to speak.”

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