“If the WTA goes to Saudi Arabia, I want change – and so do the people there” – Billie Jean King on controversial tour proposal

Billie Jean King has spoken once more about the possibility of a WTA tour event in Saudi Arabia

Billie Jean King Billie Jean King (Chryslene Caillaud/Panoramic)

Billie Jean King says she thinks the WTA will have an event in Saudi Arabia – but wants to see some change in the country if that happens.

There had been rumours linking the WTA Finals with Saudi Arabia earlier in the year before the venue was confirmed as Cancun.

And King had made comments suggesting that she supported such a move, saying in June: “I’m a huge believer in engagement – I don’t think you change unless you engage. I would probably go there and talk to them.”

Now she believes that there will be a Saudi stop on the WTA calendar before too long.

“I think they’ll be there,” she said. “The thing I’m concerned about as a woman, I want change if we go. But I’m big on engagement and inclusion so it’s a tough one. But I know people are going to go there.

“The WTA played in Qatar in ’08. We took tennis there and we still have a tournament there every year. We’re the first women pro athletes, I think, to go there. We’re the first women pro athletes to go to Japan in ’73 so we kept spreading the word. I think you have to think about a lot of things: the way they treat women, the way they treat a lot of things. But 70% of the population is under 30 years old [editor’s note: around 63% of the population is aged under 30 according to data earlier this year] and they want change.”

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