The WTA Tour has confirmed that they would be open to staging their season-end Finals in the United Kingdom as they continue to face issues with holding tournaments in China.
The WTA Finals has been played in one-off locations over the last two years but the women’s tour boss Steve Simon recently confessed that they would explore new long-term host cities if problems with China continued, and the UK could be one of them after recent success in staging the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.
The WTA could be forced to seek a new location for their version of the year-end championships after being left unable to compete in Shenzhen, which was supposed to stage the tournament for ten years from 2019.
On Tuesday, the women’s tour released their calendar for the 2023 season up to the US Open, leaving out the final portion of the season as uncertainties over returning to China remain as the country continues to use a zero-Covid policy while concerns remain for Peng Shuai, the former doubles world No.1 who accused Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in November 2021, allegations that the former vice premier has denied.
The issues have left the WTA Finals’ multi-million dollar deal to stage the event in Shenzhen in turmoil as the city only held the event for one year before the pandemic hit and alternative locations were used, leaving players with just a fraction of the £12 million ($14 million) prize pot that was offered in China. And WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon has since told NYT: “If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”
Following Simon’s admission, the WTA has stated that they would welcome discussions to stage the WTA Finals in the UK if a new host location is needed.
“The WTA’s priority for the WTA Finals is providing a world-class sporting event for players, partners and fans,” a spokesperson said.
“We will make our decision in the next several months about the location of the WTA Finals for next year. If we are in a position to seek a new location, we welcome any discussions from interested parties in the UK or other countries that share the passion to create an industry-leading event to showcase women’s tennis.”