ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA - On Wednesday, the WTA announced updates to the 2013 calendar and released its 2014 calendar. Tournament prize money in 2013 will increase 10% overall, while the 2014 calendar features tournament growth in China with new events in Wuhan and Hong Kong. WTA tennis will return to Poland and Brazil in 2013, with Brazil set to welcome a second event in 2014.
In 2013, across 54 events in 33 countries, the overall prize money at WTA events will increase more than 10% from $53.3M in 2012 to $58.7M (not including the Grand Slams), up 67% since the Roadmap was introduced in 2009. The WTA will return to Poland with an International event staged the week of April 8, 2013 (Week 15), in Katowice, located approximately 50 miles (80 km) from Krakow.
The 2014 calendar will feature events relocating to Brazil and China. Wuhan, the hometown of World No.6 Li Na, will host a Premier 5 event in Week 39, the week prior to the China Open (Beijing). The tournament will feature at least seven of the year-end Top 10-ranked players competing for more than $2 million in prize money and will replace the Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), which will celebrate an illustrious 30th anniversary at its final event in 2013. Coupled with the relocation of an International event to Hong Kong in Week 37 in 2014, China will host five of the 18 events in the Asia-Pacific region.
"We are excited by the growth of women's professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil," said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman & CEO. "Development in the BRIC markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years. We look forward to continued strengthening of our global brand, developing our sport, and building our fan base worldwide."
For the first time in its 40-year history, the WTA will also host three International events in South America in 2014. In addition to the event in Bogotá, Colombia, and Florianopolis, Brazil, which will hold its inaugural event in 2013, an International event will be relocated to Rio de Janeiro in Week 8.
The WTA's commitment to the sport's development in emerging markets is best demonstrated in the APAC region, as the popularity of the sport has seen dramatic growth. Led by the organization's Beijing office, the WTA works closely with the China Open, Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau, Chinese Tennis Association, and local sports organizations to develop professional tennis in the region. With the addition of Shenzhen in 2013, and Hong Kong and Wuhan the following year, there will be a record 16 tournaments within the APAC region in 2013, and 18 events are scheduled for 2014, five in China.
The WTA 125 Series, which began with two events in 2012, is a new stream of events that gives developing markets the opportunity to showcase WTA women's professional tennis and offer developmental opportunities for rising players. Three new WTA 125 events will be added in 2013 in China, bringing the series count to six: Taipei (Week 44), Pune, India (Week 45), Cali, Colombia (Week 7), and the three China events - Suzhou (Week 32), Ningbo (Week 39) and Nanjing (Week 44).
The following is a summary of the key elements from the 2013 calendar update and the 2014 calendar:
~ Week 9: Inaugural staging of International event in Florianopolis, Brazil
~ Week 14: Relocation of International event to Katowice, Poland (from Copenhagen)
~ Three additional events in China added to the WTA 125 series bringing total to six
~ Week 8: Relocation of International event to Rio de Janeiro (from Memphis)
~ Week 21: Brussels becomes International event
~ Week 24: Birmingham elevated to Premier 600 event
~ Week 29: Istanbul returns as International event
~ Week 37: Relocation of International event to Hong Kong (from Kuala Lumpur)
~ Week 38: Relocation of Premier 5 event to Wuhan, China (from Tokyo)
~ Week 43: The host city for the 2014 and beyond WTA Championships is expected to be announced in April 2013 following a global tender that has attracted significant international interest.