'Exciting chapter': Ash Barty at centre of $14 million announcement

Ash Barty and Elina Svitolina, pictured here with WTA Legend Ambassador Agnieszka Radwanska at the 2019 WTA Finals.
Ash Barty (R) and Elina Svitolina (L) with WTA Legend Ambassador Agnieszka Radwanska at the 2019 WTA Finals. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images) (Visual China Group via Getty Ima)

The WTA has announced its season-ending finals event will be held in Mexico this year instead of China in a move that will have ramifications for the world's top female players including Ash Barty.

The WTA Finals is held at the end of every calendar year and is contested by the world's top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams.

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The event was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning Barty is still the reigning champion having won the event in 2019.

Barty capped off her incredible 2019 season by winning the WTA Finals, having rocketed to World No.1 that year on the back of her first grand slam triumph at the French Open.

In July, the WTA removed the Asian swing of tournaments from its calendar for a second-successive year due to the pandemic, but left the fate of the WTA Finals uncertain.

However on Monday it was confirmed that the event will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico instead of Shenzhen, China - where it was held in 2019.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to the Guadalajara tournament organisers and Octagon for their commitment in hosting the event this season and for helping the WTA write another exciting chapter in WTA Finals history,” said WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon.

“We are excited to bring our showpiece tournament to the exciting and vibrant city of Guadalajara in this unique year.

"I would also like to express my gratitude to the Gemdale Corporation in Shenzhen for their cooperation and resilience, and we look forward to returning in 2022 to enjoy the WTA Finals over the next decade."

Ash Barty, pictured here with the Billie Jean King trophy after winning the WTA Finals in 2019.
Ash Barty celebrates with the Billie Jean King trophy after winning the WTA Finals in 2019. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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The WTA Finals is set to return to Shenzhen from 2022 until 2030.

The annual showpiece event had a prize purse of $14 million in 2019 when it was played in Shenzhen for the first time after ending a five-year run in Singapore.

Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico and held a WTA 250 event in March this year.

“We are delighted to announce the WTA Finals will be coming to Guadalajara this season and it is our immense honour to welcome the Top 8 singles players and doubles teams to Mexico for this highly respected event,” tournament director Gustavo Santoscoy said.

“We look forward to hosting the WTA Finals in 2021 and putting on a world class tournament in November for the millions of tennis fans around the globe.”

Eddy Liu, co-tournament director of the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen and CEO of Gemdale Sports, said: “Shenzhen remains honoured and committed to the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen and we look forward to welcoming the event back to China in 2022 to build upon the legacy after its first historic staging in 2019.”

with agencies

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