Asian economic powerhouse Singapore will host the WTA Championships for five years from 2014, the women’s sanctioning body announced on Wednesday.
The event, which is ending in Istanbul this autumn after being played prior to that in Doha, will be expanded and upgraded, with the doubles field now comprising eight instead of four teams and the prize money hitting 6.5 million dollars. The top eight singles players and the doubles teams meet in the late October play off to end the tennis season.
Singapore, with one of the most open economies in Asia, was chosen over other countries which included Tianjin, China, and Monterrey, Mexico.
“Your sensational city, the amazing city of Singapore, has won the right to host the WTA Championships for the next five years from 2014,” said WTA top executive Stacey Allaster, who called the contract “the largest and most significant WTA partnership in our history.”
The prize money increase follows the template of the four Grand Slams all significantly increasing their own layouts in order to head off any player discontent.
The event has been staged since 1972, mostly in the US in early years before the tennis universe expanded.
The ultra-modern, multicultural city-state can count the women’s tennis event as another marketing coup after staging one of the most successful Formula 1 Grand Prix events on the circuit for the past several seasons. It also draws visitors to the Marina Bay Sands casino on the waterfront.
The tiny nation has a limited tennis history and last hosted an event in 1999 on the men’s ATP. In the early 1990s it was also the venue for a lower-level WTA tournament.
The Championships will be played in the new SportsHub complex, whose construction is due to be completed in early 2014 at a cost of just over one billion dollars.