Chris Evert (left), Legend Ambassador for the WTA Championship in Singapore, responding to media queries with Eugenie Bouchard, an up-and-coming Canadian player, at a media event. (Photo by VoxSports)
Several highlights of this October’s women’s tennis season grand finale were unveiled at a media conference on Monday, the first update since Singapore won the rights to become the WTA Championship’s host country for the next five years last May.
“This is a game-changing moment for the WTA,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of WTA, of the 2014 edition.
Together with Chief Executive Officer of World Sport Group Andrew Georgiou, she was in town with former world no. 1 Chris Evert and Eugenie Bouchard, an up-and-coming Canadian player.
Evert has also been appointed as the Legend Ambassador for the Championships in Singapore as a testament to her standing in the tennis world.
“I wasn’t the strongest, the fastest or tallest... But I had a dream,” said the 59-year-old of her tennis journey, whose passion to growing women’s tennis has been described by Allaster as “unwavering”.
“If you work hard towards it, it will come true… I was determined and hungry to win matches,” Evert shared.
As ambassador, she will be supporting the season-long Road To Singapore campaign by promoting it, as well as taking part in community programmes.
About the 10-day extravaganza to take place this year, Allaster touched base on what laid in store when it finally arrives on our shores: “We’re taking a six-day tennis event featuring the very best in the world, and together with our innovative partner here in Singapore, transforming it to a 10-day sports entertainment spectacular.”
This includes a Fan Festival weekend, which will feature a “family event” and a “kids’ day” as part of a series of exhibitions and activities for fans of the women’s tennis tournament.
“The WTA Championships Singapore will have something for everyone,” Allaster reassured.
The first edition of the championships to be held in an Asia-Pacific country, the 44th staging of the prestigious event will see the top eight singles players and top eight doubles team battle it out for a grand prize of S$8 million, the first time such an amount is up for grabs.
On what audiences can expect from the 10-day spectacular, Georgiou revealed: “Some world class athletes... an awesome venue, a state of the art Singapore Sports Hub… we are extremely privileged to have the opportunity to use that.”
“And of course we are going to have a great atmosphere, the Singapore atmosphere,” he gushed, adding they not only hope to draw local residents, but also people from “around the region”.
This upgrade in the structure and format of the tournament shows a shift in the WTA’s focus, which is now on the Asia region.
Georgiou revealed that although the United States and Europe used to command most of the tennis world’s attention, “forty-percent of all WTA events are now held on the Asian subcontinent”.
“With those statistics, we can’t deny that the epicentre of the future will of course be Asia,” he said.
The WTA is also channeling it’s efforts on moulding future tennis greats, with Allaster announcing a junior showcase of the top under-14s and under-16s from around the world during the WTA Championships.
These juniors will be selected through rounds of ‘Road to Singapore‘ tournaments in their home countries.
“I think this is going to be the first of five roads and I think each road will be more interesting and different,” said Georgiou. “But nothing is as good as your first.”
Bouchard, who was the first Canadian to make the Semi Finals in 30 years at the recent Australian Open, echoed this sentiment.
“I’ve got a long way to go before I can come back here in October, but it’s one of my main goals and I’m working towards that,” said the 19-year-old graciously.
“I speak on behalf of all the players when I say that we’re confident that this will be the best Championships ever.”