The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced on Thursday the selection of southern Chinese city Shenzhen to host the WTA Finals from 2019 through 2028.
The prize money will be increased to $14 million, double than this year’s reward.
Shenzhen will take over from Singapore, which has hosted the tournament since 2014. The 2018 edition of the season-ending competition will be the last one in the southeast Asian country.
The WTA Finals, the most prestigious event on the WTA calendar, sees the top eight female singles players and doubles teams battle for the Billie Jean King trophy.
Shenzhen’s successful bid
According to AsiaOne, Gemdale Corporation, one of China’s largest real estate developers, were the ones who submitted the winning bid.
The company compromised to build a state-of-the-art venue in the city’s downtown area, with seating for 12,000 people and to double the current price money.
'It gives me great pleasure to announce that the dynamic city of Shenzhen has been chosen to host the WTA Finals for the next decade,' said Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman.
'This will easily be the largest and most significant WTA Finals deal in the 45 years since the WTA was founded and promises to take the event to a spectacular new level.'
Former world No. 1 and founder of the WTA, Billie Jean King, stated, 'It is absolutely incredible to witness the growth of the WTA season-ending event and Shenzhen will be a fantastic home for the WTA Finals. The first Finals were played in 1972, in Boca Raton, Florida, before the WTA was formed, and had $100,000 in total prize money. The record setting $14 million purse set for Shenzhen reflects the global strength of our sport and how Shenzhen and China have embraced women's tennis.'
Top players welcome the move
Some of the top female tennis players from around the world have welcomed the move of the WTA Finals to Shenzhen.
'I know the WTA' s partners in Shenzhen will deliver a wonderful and memorable experience for the players, fans and sponsors, so I am thrilled that the city has been selected to stage the WTA Finals,' said women’s world No. 1 Simona Halep.
Maria Sharapova stated that the tournament was moving to a place that “is willing to grow the sport”.
'If you look at the numbers ... you want to go to a place that's willing to invest in women's tennis. That's where we're headed to,' the Russian said in Melbourne.
'They were the ones that put the money on the line. They are willing to grow our sport. They're willing to build a stadium, willing to accept the game and its level and the players.
'We want to go where the growth will be.'
The WTA Finals were first played in 1972 in Boca Raton, Florida. The competition has also been held in Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, Munich, Madrid, Doha, Istanbul, and Singapore.