- Saudi Arabia have made increasingly aggressive moves into several sports
- The year-end finals of the women’s tennis tour are now expected to move there
- However, views on the decision to switch the event to the Middle East are split
Saudi Arabia’s increasingly aggressive moves into golf are expected to be followed up by a decision to move the year-end finals of the women’s tennis tour to the Kingdom.
With reverberations being felt from Jon Rahm’s switch to LIV, Mail Sport understands that an agreement to move the WTA Finals to Saudi has now been finalised by both sides and is merely awaiting the signatures of both parties.
A hitch, however, is the fear of how some of the legends of the women’s game will react, particularly the iconic duo of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
Both have stated the belief that not enough progress has yet been made on equal rights to allow one of the most important tournaments to move there, and they are said to be watching developments closely.
The WTA has suffered a glut of difficult publicity this year, and does not want to endure any more in the wake of the disastrous finals which were served up in Cancun at the end of the season.
Saudi Arabia’s increasingly aggressive moves into golf are expected to be followed up by a decision to move the year-end finals of the women’s tennis tour to the Kingdom (pictured – Iga Swiatek after winning the women’s singles of the WTA finals in Cancun, Mexico, last month)
It comes after the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series signed up Jon Rahm on a deal worth £400m
Opinion is divided within the organisation about the Saudi issue, with some attracted to what will be an eight-figure staging fee and others – top players Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula among them – feeling it would be better to engage.
The men’s game is also watching. The potential disruptive effect of Saudi riches is one reason why the four Grand Slam events are forging a closer alliance, and looking at links with other significant tournaments, although this us currently at the discussion stage.
The Saudis are seeking a Masters 1000 slot on the ATP Tour, and just after Christmas they will host an exhibition match between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.
A WTA spokesperson said: ‘We are in discussions with various groups surrounding the 2024 WTA Finals and beyond and have not made any decisions at this time. As with all WTA decisions, we are working closely with players and focused on continuing to build a strong future for women’s tennis.’
Opinion is divided within the sport about the Saudi issue, with some fearful legends within the women’s game such as Martina Navratilova (pictured) will publicly oppose it