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WTA Finals announce Saudi Arabia as host for the next three years

The WTA Finals will be hosted in Saudi Arabia between 2024 and 2026, with record prize money being offered at the year-end tournament.

Since 2020, the year-end event has been hosted in three different locations with single-year contracts, after the WTA boycotted China due to the disappearance of former player Peng Shuai.

However, it has now been given a designated host of Riyadh for the next three years, with the Saudi Arabian capital adding the WTA Finals to the ATP Next Gen Finals.

Last year, the tournament was held in Cancun, Mexico, and received lots of criticism due to the seemingly unprepared venue that was being built until the day of the tournament.

Upon the announcement, WTA Chief Executive Steve Simon revealed the reason for moving the event to the Middle East, “The WTA has been breaking down barriers for more than 50 years. We want to create more opportunities for women to play tennis at the elite level, and I think by doing this, we believe that we can inspire more women and girls to get involved with the sport.

“We are a global sport. The WTA now has all of these events and people from around the world that do reflect different cultures and systems.”

Saudi Arabia has been rumoured as a potential host of the WTA Finals for a while, receiving criticism from the likes of Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Daria Kasatkina, with accusations of ‘sportswashing’ due to various human rights breaches from the nation.

The top eight singles and doubles players from the 2024 season will compete in Riyadh later this year, with a record $15.25 million prize money on offer, in comparison to the event in Cancun last year that offered over $6 million less.

Riyadh will host the WTA Finals later this year between the 2nd and 9th November.

Inside the baseline…

This doesn’t really feel like news, as it almost seemed an inevitability that the tours would eventually move to Saudi Arabia. It is clear that money is the main incentive behind this, and it seems quite unrealistic of Steve Simon to suggest that this tournament is going to change attitudes. Hopefully the crowds are better than expected, but attendances in other WTA events in the Middle East do not provide much hope.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.