The WTA has announced several changes to the 2019 calendar. This has been highlighted by a new WTA Premier event in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, marking the start of the Asian leg.
The new tournament in Zhengzhou will take place a week after the US Open. It will offer $1 million in prize money in 2019 and $1.5 million in 2020. A new state of the art facility will be constructed that includes an 8,000 seat stadium, slated to be completed for 2020.
The Zhengzhou event represents a stronger player flow on the global calendar as the WTA Tour transitions to Asia and culminates at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. The prize money on offer is a positive indicator of the investment women’s tennis continues to attract.
Mr. Charles Hsiung, President of APG, said, “The Zhengzhou Open marks a huge milestone for the growth of tennis in the Asian region and particularly in China. APG’s great history and experience with tennis will allow us to showcase yet another premier event in the region. We also want to thank the WTA for trusting in APG and giving Zhengzhou, Henan, the opportunity to showcase itself to the world.”
Hsiung added, “Together with the Chinese Tennis Association, Henan Sport Bureau, Zhengzhou Municipal Government and Central Plain Tennis Centre, we are all committed to ensuring that the Zhengzhou Open will be held at the highest possible level at a world class facility.”
There are a further two new additions to the WTA calendar in 2019, first with the Ladies Championship Lausanne being staged in Switzerland the week after Wimbledon of July 15.
Additionally, the Baltic Open will take place in Jurmala, Latvia the week of July 22, the first
WTA event to ever be staged in Latvia. These two events replace the Ladies Championships Gstaad by Ixion Services and Moscow River Cup respectively.
In addition, the Connecticut Open in New Haven will not take place in 2019. The tournament, a celebrated event on the WTA calendar for 21 years, made the decision to sell its sanction after its financial model became unviable without a title sponsor.
“It has been an amazing 21-year run for women’s professional tennis in New Haven and we are truly grateful to all the fans, volunteers, players, media and sponsors involved,” said Tournament Director Anne Worcester. “We have many memories to cherish both on and off the court, and while we remember our great champions, we are most proud of the benefits the tournament has brought to the local community.”
The WTA is looking at several opportunities for new events in the United States in the week prior to the US Open. One such event could begin as early as this year, with a second event added in 2020.
“The Connecticut Open has been one of the most beloved tournaments on the WTA Tour,” said WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon. “We want to recognize and extend our appreciation to the Connecticut Open’s dedicated team and fan base for their years of commitment and passion for women’s tennis.”
Simon added, “We are pleased to present a robust 2019 Tour calendar. We look forward to bringing women’s tennis to Zhengzhou and the Henan Province and continue to grow the sport across China and the Asia Pacific region. We are additionally excited about the interest we are receiving in the marketplace from two US cities.”
The 2019 WTA calendar features 55 tournaments across 29 countries and record prize money of over $164 million. The international breadth of tournaments includes 22 events in Europe, 11 events in the Americas and 20 events in the Asia-Pacific region.