Sports / Tennis

WTA Championships to expand in Asia

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-01-28 11:29

SINGAPORE - The WTA Championships, the year-end crown jewel event of the Women's Tennis Association, will be expanded into a ten-day event of competition, exhibitions and activities for fans when it is held in Singapore in October this year, the association announced on Monday.

The event will run from October 17 to October 26. There will be seven days of competition starting in 2014, compared with six in previous years. It will be further expanded to have eight days of competition starting from 2015, officials said.

Additionally, the doubles competition will be expanded to eight teams.

The prize money for the championships will also increase to $6.5 million.

Speaking at a press conference in Singapore, Andrew Georgiou, chief executive officer of World Sport Group, said that he sees great potentials for the sports market of Asia, including China, India and Southeast Asia.

The world's top players are coming from not only Europe and the Americas, but increasingly Asia as well, he said.

He said that he watched the tennis of Australia Open winner Li Na fighting her way to the title, and that he would like to be one of the more than 20 million social website users in China who " like" Li Na on microblogging site Weibo.

Chris Evert, the tennis legend who is now the ambassador for the WTA Championships, also said she thinks Li Na, like the Williams sisters, is one of the most influential players of women's tennis in a decade.

The WTA Championships will be held in Singapore for five years from 2014 to 2018. It was the first time in 44 years for the event to be held in an Asia Pacific city.

The Women's Tennis Association has also opened a new office in Singapore at the Singapore Sports Hub. This means a WTA team will be on the ground working with the Singapore Sports Council.

"Asia continues to grow as a destination for global sports properties, with Singapore an important hub given its world class infrastructure and ability to host and execute to the highest level," Georgiou said.

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