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Saudi Arabia to host WTA Finals with record prize money for the next three years

Saudi Arabia will host the Women’s Tennis Association finals the next three years, beginning this fall under an agreement with the Saudi Tennis Federation that will offer record prize money, the WTA announced Thursday. 

The season-ending championship will be held in Riyadh from Nov. 2-9 and will offer participants a record $15.25 million in prize money, a 70% increase from the previous year. According to the terms of the agreement, the prize money is expected to increase in 2025 and again in 2026. 

WTA logo

The WTA logo on the net during the Top Seed Open at the Top Seed Tennis Club Aug. 10, 2020, in Lexington, Ky.  (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

“Bringing the WTA Finals to Riyadh is an exciting new opportunity for us and a positive step for the long-term growth of women’s tennis as a global and inclusive sport,” WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement.  

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“We’ve been impressed by the commitment shown by the Saudi Tennis Federation to grow the sport at all levels, and we have no doubt that players and fans can look forward to a world-class event in Riyadh as the finale to the 2024, 2025 and 2026 seasons.”

The news comes amid concern over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, specifically over women’s rights and the LGBTQ community. 

Simon told The Associated Press in an interview that he spoke to tennis legends Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova after the pair voiced their opposition to the partnership in an op-ed for The Washington Post earlier this year. 

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert talk to the media

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert talk to the media during a press conference at the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun 2023, part of the Hologic WTA Tour, Nov. 2, 2023, in Cancun, Mexico  (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

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“We’ve met with Chris and Martina and listened to their concerns, and we have shared their concerns through our stakeholders as well, without prejudice. We’ve also shared the concerns around women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights within the Kingdom of Saudi,” Simon said. “Our focus is on how we develop women’s tennis for the benefit of everybody involved in the game. 

“The reality of it is … we are truly a global tour, a global business. We have players from over 90 nations now. We have over 90 events. … We participate in many countries that have different cultures and values systems across the board.”

Simon added that players will “make their own choices” when it comes to participating in the WTA Finals but said he believes qualifiers are “going to want to play.”

Iga Swiatek trophy

Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates after winning against Jessica Pegula of the U.S. during the final of the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun 2023, part of the Hologic WTA Tour, Nov. 6, 2023, in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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The WTA Finals will feature the top eight singles players and doubles teams.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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