The Women’s Tennis Association will move its season-ending championships to Singapore for five years starting in 2014, as the organization tries to increase its fan base in Asia.
Singapore was chosen from a three-city shortlist including Tianjin, China, and Monterrey, Mexico, and the contract will bring record revenue, WTA Chairman Stacey Allaster said today in an interview. Istanbul currently hosts the event.
“It allows us to move women’s professional tennis to markets where we can’t go with our regular calendar,” Allaster said. “It allows us to continue growing our brand, growing our fan base.”
From 2014, the top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams will compete for a record prize money pool of $6.5 million at the tournament, which will take place at the 7,500-seat Singapore Indoor Stadium, the WTA said.
The organization opened an office in Beijing in 2008, and is interested in capitalizing on the success and popularity of Li Na, the fifth-ranked player from China. Her victory at the 2011 French Open helped boost the sport in the region, with a gain of 40 to 50 percent in television audiences, Allaster said.
“It’ll take a decade,” Allaster said. “We’ll have more tournaments in Asia than any other region by 2014.”
The contract with Singapore is the first time the WTA has locked in a city for the year-end event for more than three years, Allaster said. The last three hosts -- Madrid, Qatar and Istanbul -- have been for two or three years.
“It’s the one strong asset we can move around the globe and focus on getting the most out of a region,” she said. “We want to lay down a real roadmap and seize our opportunity.”