The launch of a six-court municipal tennis complex in an underserved neighborhood highlighted the WTA Legend Ambassador program during the recent AKRON WTA Finals Guadalajara with Chris Evert in attendance as special guest.

Before trading ceremonial balls with a group of children, Evert gave a speech in which she reflected on the successful staging of the WTA’s crown jewel event in Mexico’s second largest city, and the equally vital mission to open the sport to people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“All eyes in the tennis world are on Guadalajara this week, with the best eight women in the world playing, and you should be very proud that it’s taking place in your beautiful city,” said Evert, the winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles.

“But that’s the elite level, and we’re here today to celebrate something just as important – tennis at the grass roots.

Photo by WTA

“A lot of kids want to play tennis, but it can be a very expensive sport, so it’s just great the community and government have come together to help financially. I’m particularly pleased that the Jalisco Tennis Association, through various programs, is focused on encouraging everyone to play this great game of ours.”

Touched by the decision of local authorities to name the new center’s main court "Cancha Chris Evert," the former No.1, who grew up on the courts of Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her father Jimmy as coach, noted her affinity for public tennis facilities.

“I understand how important these kinds of initiatives are to really give kids a chance to fulfill their dreams,” she said.

Photo by WTA

“Tennis is not only about becoming No.1 or being on the WTA Tour or ATP Tour. It can have such a powerful impact on every aspect of one’s life – our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, self-confidence, social skills. When I look at you kids here today, forming friendships, communicating, maybe even working towards a college scholarship one day, I’m just thrilled to know that it’s all going to take place on these courts.

“I feel this facility can be a true legacy of the first WTA Finals to be held in Latin America, especially for girls and for women, and I’m truly honored that this court will have my name on it.”