WTA Finals to be held in Cancun, Mexico

The WTA had considered holding the season-ending event in Saudi Arabia but changed its mind after criticism from former players

Caroline Garcia Caroline Garcia after winning the 2022 WTA Finals (Zuma/Panoramic)

The WTA announced on Thursday that its season-ending WTA Finals will be held in Cancun, Mexico.

The Finals, the showcase event on the women’s Tour for the top eight-ranked players in the year, will take place from October 29 to November 5.

The WTA had openly flirted with the idea of taking the Finals to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. But according to reports, a backlash from some of its legends, including Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and lack of rights for women, left the WTA feeling that it should be held somewhere else.

Prague was also considered, according to reports, though the fact that Russian and Belarusian players cannot get into the country at the moment due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, may also have been a factor.

Evert and Navratilova led call not to to go to Saudi

While Billie Jean King had suggested that going to Jeddah might allow the WTA to push calls for greater rights for women, Evert and Navratilova had said it was not worth taking the money.

 “I think it’s sports washing,” Evert said on an ESPN call just before the US Open. “I don’t think we need to go there.”

Pegula had questioned wisdom of Saudi Arabia too

Many players had expressed positive feelings about the idea of going to Saudi Arabia but world No 3 Jess Pegula had also pointed out the very plain downsides.

“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,” she said at the US Open.

“Whether that’s seeing them as a group maybe [having] 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.”

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