Saudi Arabia to host WTA Finals until 2026 with record £12m prize money

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Saudi Arabia has won the race to host the next three editions of the WTA Finals, the flagship tour event in women’s tennis, offering a record prize money of $15.25m (£12m) for what will be the biggest annual women’s sporting event held in Saudi Arabia.

The WTA Finals, the tour’s year-ending championships, feature the top eight singles players and doubles pairs in the world competing for the title. The WTA Finals will be held in Saudi from 2024-26, with this year’s edition taking place from 2 to 9 November.

The agreement between WTA and the Saudi Tennis Federation had been anticipated by tour insiders since the end of last year. It has already received significant criticism due to Saudi Arabia being accused of sportswashing its human rights records and the restrictions placed on women in the country.

Earlier this year, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert urged the WTA not to hold the event in Saudi Arabia in an op-ed with the Washington Post.

In a statement, Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman and chief executive 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.”

Last year, the WTA and Saudi Arabia had been in talks to hold the event there before the tour decided on a one-year deal in Cancún, where the event offered prize money of $9m (£7.1m).

The 2019 edition, the first of what was supposed to be 10 years in Shenzhen, China, had offered the previous record prize money of $14m. The event was cancelled due to Covid in 2020 and then, after the WTA’s short-lived public protestations over its concerns for Peng Shuai’s personal freedom following her accusations of sexual assault against the former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, last year Shenzhen broke away from their deal.

Since it was cancelled in 2020, the event has been held in Guadalajara, Dallas-Fort Worth and Cancún on successive one-year deals. Last year’s edition was criticised by the players for heavy winds and an uneven court surface making conditions extremely difficult in a temporary stadium completed days before the event began.


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