Saudi Arabia to host women’s tennis WTA Finals for the next three years | Tennis News

The lucrative, multiyear deal is the latest professional sports event acquisition by the kingdom in recent years.

The season-ending Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals will be held in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh from 2024-2026, the tennis body said, ending months of speculation and marking the Gulf country’s latest foray into the sport.

“To have a women’s tournament of this magnitude and profile is a defining moment for tennis in Saudi Arabia. The WTA Finals has the power to inspire far beyond the sport, especially for our young girls and women,” Saudi Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud said on Thursday.

Speculation that the event could be shifted to Saudi Arabia had intensified after the men’s ATP Tour said last August that its Next Gen Finals would be held in Jeddah from 2023 to 2027.

“The WTA selected Riyadh following a comprehensive evaluation process over several months, which has included assessment of multiple bids from different regions and engagement with players,” it said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in sports like football, golf and Formula One auto racing in the last few years while critics accuse the kingdom of using its Public Investment Fund to “sportswash” its human rights record.

The country denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security through its laws.

The new three-year deal will increase the prize money for this November’s season-ending championship to a record $15.25m, a 70 percent increase from 2023.

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