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WTA would ‘welcome’ talks to host Finals in UK after China issues – EXCLUSIVE | Tennis | Sport

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The WTA Tour has confirmed that they’d be open to staging their season-end Finals in the UK as they proceed to face issues with holding tournaments in China. The WTA Finals has been played in one-off locations over the past two years but the ladies’s tour boss Steve Simon recently confessed that they’d explore recent long-term host cities if problems with China continued, and the UK may very well be one in all them after recent success in staging the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

World-class tennis could soon be returning to British soil after the ATP Finals left its 12-year home at London’s O2 Arena for a recent host city in Turin. The WTA may very well be forced to hunt a recent location for his or her version of the year-end championships after being left unable to compete in Shenzhen, which was alleged to stage the tournament for ten years from 2019.

On Tuesday, the ladies’s tour released their calendar for the 2023 season as much as the US Open, leaving out the ultimate portion of the season as uncertainties over returning to China remain because the country continues to make use of a zero-Covid policy while concerns remain for Peng Shuai, the previous doubles world No 1 who accused Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in November 2021, allegations that the previous vice premier has denied.

The problems have left the WTA Finals’ multi-million dollar deal to stage the event in Shenzhen in turmoil as the town only held the event for one 12 months before the pandemic hit and alternative locations were used, leaving players with only 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 are able to’t return to China or aren’t able to return, then I do think we are going to carve out a multiyear situation, because we’d like to for the business.” 

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Following Simon’s admission, the WTA has now told Express Sport that they’d welcome discussions to stage the WTA Finals within the UK if a recent host location is required. “The WTA’s priority for the WTA Finals is providing a world-class sporting event for players, partners and fans,” a spokesperson told Express Sport.

“We’ll make our decision in the following several months concerning the location of the WTA Finals for next 12 months.  If we’re ready to hunt a recent location, we welcome any discussions from interested parties within the UK or other countries that share the fervour to create an industry-leading event to showcase women’s tennis.”

It comes after the LTA recently saw success in staging the BJK Cup Finals – the ladies’s tennis equivalent of the World Cup – at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena last week, while also hosting the group stage of the lads’s version – the Davis Cup – of the tournament back in September. However the British tennis governing body revealed that they weren’t yet considering a bid for the WTA Finals.

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“There aren’t any current plans to bid to host the WTA finals, nevertheless we remain open to opportunities to bring other major events to this country – as we now have done this 12 months with the Davis Cup Group Stage Finals and Billie Jean King Cup Finals,” an LTA spokesperson confirmed to Express Sport.

Whatever happens, the ladies’s tour will probably be keen to hunt an answer after world No 1 Iga Swiatek hit out on the poor crowd turnout in Fort Price, this 12 months’s last-minute host of the Finals, in addition to the lower prize pot on offer on the tournament with the WTA only in a position to offer £4.3m ($5m) this 12 months without the financial support that China offers.

And the UK may very well be the proper home for the WTA Finals because of the increased interest in women’s tennis on British soil following Emma Raducanu’s heroics on the 2021 US Open and the BJK Cup team’s recent run to the semi-final, their best lead to 41 years.

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