Women’s tennis also succumbs to the millions of Saudi Arabia | Tennis | Sports

Men’s tennis (ATP) gave up first, and now women’s tennis (WTA) does so, intoxicated by the large number of millions offered by Saudi Arabia. The Arab country continues to monopolize events and shows, aware of the impact of a sport as international as tennis. So, taking advantage of a loophole, it will organize the next three editions (from 2024 to 2026) of the Masters Cup in the city of Riyadh. This was announced this Thursday by the organization led by the American Steve Simon, which perceives the landing in the Middle East as “an exciting opportunity” and a “positive long-term step” for the growth of women’s tennis as a “global and inclusive” sport. . Translated, money and a solution.

Without a fixed venue since 2018, when the four-year contract with Singapore ended, the master tournament traveled from one place to another during the last five years: from Shenzhen (2019) to Guadalajara (2021), and from there to Fort Worth (2022 ) to try the last course in Cancun. The latter was not a good experience, given the organizational problems – track and weather, fundamentally – and the subsequent protests of the eight participants; So, on the lookout, Arabia detected the need for continuity of the WTA and showed its leaders the checkbook. Consequently, the event that closes the season will take place in the desert, following the path opened at the end of February by the ATP, which announced a “multi-year strategic agreement.”

This same year, the tournament will offer a record prize pool, according to the statement; 15.2 million dollars will be distributed among the competitors, about 14 euros, and the sum will increase in the next two editions. However, the final figure of the agreement between the WTA and the country does not transcend, where, it should be remembered, women’s rights are violated and homosexuality is persecuted (and punished). According to Amnesty International, “although penalties for homosexual relations are not codified in Saudi law, such relations are strictly prohibited under Islamic law (sharia), on which Saudi Arabia bases its legal framework.”

The note issued by the WTA emphasizes that Arabia has doubled the number of clubs in the last five years, and that tennis is played equally by boys and girls in schools. It also anticipates “multi-year initiatives that help drive continuous progress,” but they do not seem sufficient arguments to convince critical voices such as those of the historic Martina Navratilova or Chris Evert, who have publicly expressed their overwhelming rejection of the landing of the women’s circuit there. . In contrast, some current professionals such as the Tunisian Ons Jabeur or the Belarusian have positioned themselves in favor.

The Masters Cup will not be the first official tournament that Saudi hosts, since last year it hosted the tournament of promises (Next Gen Finals) in Jeddah. In recent years it has organized several exhibitions, with the presence of figures of the stature of Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Sabalenka herself, and in October it will bring together the first two with Rafael Nadal, Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev and Holger Rune in a appointment that will disburse the largest prize in history, with a fixed 1.5 million per head and 5.5—when the Grand Slam that offers the most, the US Open, awards 2.7—for the champion.

Aside from this, various information indicates that Saudi Arabia’s objective is to achieve ownership of a Masters 1000 and include it in the calendar as a prelude to the Australian Open in January.

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