WTA Players Differ In Opinions About WTA Finals Possibly Moving To Saudi Arabia

WTA Players Differ In Opinions About WTA Finals Possibly Moving To Saudi Arabia

by Erik Virostko

The WTA is yet to announce the host country for the 2023 WTA Finals, and one of the biggest favourites is Saudi Arabia.

The situation surrounding the 2023 WTA Finals has been far from ideal, and all players in question are aware of that. The 2023 US Open, the last Grand Slam of the season, is underway, and with it also the fight for the spots at the year-end championship.

That is set to be played in October, only a few weeks after the conclusion of the US Open. For now, only two players have qualified for the event, but even they don't know where it is going to be played, as there are multiple countries being considered, according to various reports.

Those two countries should be the Czech Republic and Saudi Arabia, but there is a minor problem with both, especially in relation to players that could compete. While the Czech Republic previously didn't allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete, Saudi Arabia's involvement has been a controversial topic because of multiple reasons.

Therefore, it was very interesting when players go asked about the possible move of the event to Saudi Arabia at the 2023 US Open, as not all of them shared the same opinion. Aryna Sabalenka, who is one of the players that qualified for the event, was asked about it and whether players have any input in the decision making.

"It's not like they really asking. I felt like they really trying their best to find some options. It's not about, like, we have thousand of options. I mean, they not really asking us. Because I feel like sometimes it's not about us. I mean, for example, I would like to play -- where I would like to play? Where I would like to play? Miami, yes. But sometimes it's just impossible to make it happen there."

While the Belarusian said that the decision is not really about players, the WTA council member, Jessica Pegula wanted to make sure that if the WTA Finals were to move to Saudi Arabia, certain conditions would be met.

"I think that if you look at a pros and cons list, we'd obviously have to see there be a lot of pros overweighing the cons to feel comfortable going there, whether that's seeing them as a group maybe have to donate money to women's sports or women's rights in Saudi Arabia, to see some sort of change or action going towards helping those causes in their country. I think that would be something really important that, if we did end up going there, we would want to see."

But while the majority of the players, including the world no. 1, Iga Swiatek, weren't really keen on commenting and talking about the possible move, which would follow the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals, one player would be really happy to see the event move to Saudi Arabia.

Ons Jabeur grew up closest to Saudi Arabia from players that could compete at the event, not just geographically, but also culturally. Therefore, when asked about the WTA Finals moving to the country, the Tunisian said:

"You know, as an Arab player, I'm very excited to be there. I am someone pushing for a change, pushing to give more and more opportunities especially for women. I know in Saudi they're changing things and they're evolving."

"I've been there last year to give, like, a speech and interview there. It was very nice meeting a lot of amazing womans there. For me, I was trying to push to have something, tennis, there in Saudi. I think it's a great step. I think it's something that could help the Arab world to have more tennis players, to get more involved in sports."

"Yeah, if they play there, and hopefully if I qualify, it will be a great honor and opportunity for me to go and play there, especially meeting a lot of women. They told me they look up to me. That would be a great opportunity for me to meet them and speak to them."

Jabeur sees the possible move as an opportunity and while for now we can talk only about how the players see the possible move, the time is ticking and the WTA is expected to soon announce the host country.


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