Navratilova calls for a woman to be new WTA CEO following Cancun chaos

In the wake of various logistical failures at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Martina Navratilova is calling for a change in leadership on the WTA Tour.

Martina Navratilova at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships Martina Navratilova at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships Image Credit: AI/Reuters/Panoramic

It has been a roller-coaster ride at the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico right from the start.

Controversy began before the year-end championship even began, as players struggled to book practice time on Centre Court due to the last-minute construction of the arena. Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova and Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka expressed disappointment with the overall organisation of the event. Court conditions have reportedly been sub-standard and inclement weather throughout the week has not helped.

WTA chief executive Steve Simon has accepted responsibility for the tournament failing to live up to standards.

Nonetheless, former world No 1 and now Tennis Channel commentator Martina Navratilova is calling for a change in the WTA’s leadership. Navratilova thinks Simon should be out and replaced by a female CEO.

It’s going to be hard for Steve to stay in the job.

Martina Navratilova

“Maybe it’s time for new leadership,” the 67-year-old argued. “For me, personally, this being a woman’s association and being involved for such a long time from the beginning, we’ve only had two women at the head of it. I think it’s time, hopefully when we get a new leader, that it’s a woman.

“There’s plenty of them that are qualified for the job. It’s going to be hard for Steve to stay in the job somehow because everything is pointing the other way right now.

“It shouldn’t have come that late in the year, making this decision. There was a sequence of bad decisions. Ultimately, Steve Simon has been the boss for eight years and here we are…. The players adjusted [to the conditions], they had to. But to come to Cancun in the rainy season? You cannot be hoping it’s not going to rain at the premier event for the WTA Tour. It was just a whole bunch of decisions. You have to own the bad decisions you made and make some choices after that.”

Turmoil on tour did not begin with the WTA Finals, either. This controversy comes at the end of a year in which there has been increasing player frustration toward the WTA’s governing body. The 2023 season has been marked by continuing controversies around pay disparities with the ATP and repeated calls for scheduling reform to mitigate against late-night finishes.

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