Raging Saudi Arabia Debate Prompts Martina Navratilova to Add Her Two Cents on the Subject -‘Changes Need to Come’

Published 12/05/2023, 12:37 AM EST

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Saudi Arabia’s strict rules for women and against homosexuality have stopped the women’s tennis body from hosting the WTA finals on Saudi Arabian soil. In this context, former tennis legend and women’s rights activist, Martina Navratilova dropped her exclusive bits. While the under-21 ATP finals happened in Jeddah, the women’s tennis fraternity still has question marks over Saudi Arabia’s ability to manage WTA tournaments despite their legal troubles.

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Recently the Women’s Tennis Association mentioned thinking of reconsidering their decision about Saudia Arabia. This has been criticized by many active players and former tennis legends including Martina Navratilova. Let’s hear what she has to say about WTA’s recent shift in the mentality!

Martina Navratilova wants Saudia Arabia’s integrity over changes for hosting WTA finals there

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WTA’s reconsideration to accept Saudi Arabia’s invitation for WTA tournaments didn’t go well with Martina Navratilova. Navratilova, who is known for her activism towards women’s rights after her retirement wanted the country’s promise of bringing changes to their rigid rules before the approval of hosting tournaments. Navratilova said- “Engage? Absolutely. But don’t give them the term and until they prove that they actually are making changes. So yes, engage, talk and give some guidelines. This is what we want to see. Before we go and actually are in the country. Once you’re in the country, you lose all leverage. And they just keep saying, oh, yeah, we’ll get to it. It’s just takes time it takes time. I think we need to we need to see the changes and much bigger than what they are right now.” 

Martina Navratilova’s comment proved that she is not rigid about her decision. She wanted WTA to engage with Saudi Arabian authorities to help them understand the importance of changes. Moreover, she wanted the country’s integrity since players don’t have many benefits on foreign soil.

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For her reason of anxiety, she mentioned-“Women still cannot divorce a man in Saudi men can just say I divorce you and they’re done. And a woman has to come in front of a panel and be approved for to divorce by other men. So you know, the inequity there is very glaring, nevermind the horrible homosexual laws that still exist that are still on the books. So I think they need to change that first, before we go and actually compete there. The changes need to come first. That’s my take on it. “

Martina Navratilova: The immortal that went beyond

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While legends and current players are disapproving of it, Saudi Arabia has offered an enormous budget to drive WTA’s attention toward them.

Saudi Arabia unveiled enormous prize money to shift WTA’s intention to host tournaments on their soil

Given Saudi Arabia’s unbelievable resources, the country tried all of its means to get WTA’s approval to host the tournaments. Yes, Saudi Arabia announced $12 million for the winner of the tournament with an additional $8 million for the staging fee. Following this, it is clear to the tennis community that the country is trying its best to host the WTA US Open 2024 in Saudi Arabia. Even Martina Navratilova raised concern over Saudis trying to buy out the WTA.

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Amid all the controversy, doubt remains about women tennis players’ freedom if such a high-profile event is organized in a rigid country like Saudi Arabia. However, fans can hope that WTA will take their final decision thinking about the benefits of the players only. What do you think?

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Written by:

Upasana Banerjee

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One take at a time

I began my journey as a tennis writer at EssentiallySports after 6.5 years in content creation, including both sports and non-sports topics, gaining wide-ranging expertise. To date, I have contributed more than 600 articles, in both tennis and esports.
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Edited by:

Ananya Giri

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