"The WTA calendars continue to deepen the reach of women's professional tennis into unprecedented markets to help grow our global fan base far and wide," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the WTA. "Together with the continued success and growth of the China Open and the launch of the year-end WTA Championships in Singapore in 2014, the WTA's Asia growth strategy is in full force."
In 2014, the WTA's international breadth of tournaments will reach 33 countries with 54 WTA Premier and International events and six WTA 125K Series events, with the geographic spread of tournaments to include 23 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 17 in Asia-Pacific and 14 in the Americas.
The WTA's long-term strategy of growing women's tennis in Asia is built around an expansive footprint in China and the region, as well as Singapore hosting the year-end WTA Championships for a record five years between 2014 and 2018. The WTA Championships will be transformed into an international sport entertainment spectacle featuring new events, including exhibitions between the WTA's Rising Stars and Legends, daily fan festivals, trade symposiums, business conferences, music events and a VIP Experience that will elevate WTA Championships fan engagement to a new level of success.
In the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan - key growth markets - the WTA will host a record six WTA Premier and International tournaments and four WTA 125K Series events (Nanchang, Suzhou, Ningbo, and Chinese Taipei) during 2014. A new Premier event in Wuhan, the home of Li Na, will make its debut during Week 39, in addition to two inaugural International events in Hong Kong and Tianjin (Week 37 and 41). In comparison, there were only two WTA events in China during the 2012 season.
In addition to four WTA 125K Series events in Chinese Mainland and Chinese Taipei, two additional events will take place - in Raanana, Israel and Limoges, France. The WTA introduced the WTA 125K Series in 2012 to provide an opportunity for emerging markets currently unable to host a full WTA event, as well as giving the WTA's up-and-coming players a chance to play extra tournaments.
The WTA will host two events in Brazil for the first time, with the addition of the Rio Open in Rio de Janeiro (Week 8). A combined event, the Rio Open has set the foundation for the development of professional tennis in Brazil, setting the stage for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Rio joins Florianopolis (Brazil) and Bogotá (Colombia) for a record three WTA events in South America in 2014.
Istanbul, Turkey, the home of the WTA Championships during the 2011-2013 seasons, will make its way back to the regular season calendar with the International-level Istanbul Cup in Week 29.
In 2015, the WTA will continue to feature 54 WTA events with 23 events in EMEA, 17 in Asia-Pacific and 14 in the Americas. A historic addition to the 2015 calendar will include a longer grass court season, with an additional tournament in Nottingham (Week 24), aimed to give the players additional time to prepare for Wimbledon. The WTA worked with the AELTC and the LTA on the new event.
Philip Brook, Chairman of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships, Wimbledon, said: "The creation of a three week gap between Roland Garros and Wimbledon will establish a longer and more significant grass court season within the international tennis calendar. In addition to the added entertainment potential for fans, this will have the substantial benefit of building a grass court tournament structure of genuine substance and, critically, of allowing the players more time to rest and recover from Roland Garros, and then to prepare for The Championships. I wish to thank the WTA and all the parties concerned for their commitment and support in bringing this exciting prospect to fruition."