London | Garbiñe Muguruza appointed WTA Finals Riyadh Tournament Director

The WTA has appointed former World No 1 Garbiñe Muguruza as Tournament Director of its season-ending championships in Saudi Arabia, which features the Top 8 singles players and doubles teams on the PIF Race to the WTA Finals Riyadh.

I know how special this event is for our top players, and I’ve also seen its potential to inspire communities all over the world. I’m excited to work with a great team to present a showcase for women’s tennis that not only grows tennis but encourages all fans, and especially girls and women, to pursue their dreams. Garbiñe Muguruza

Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion, is the first former player to be named to the post at the event, which she won in 2021.

The 30-year old Spaniard, who was born in Venezuela and revealed last month that her professional playing days are over, will start her role with this year’s edition, which takes place from 2-9 November.

Muguruza will work with WTA, the Saudi Tennis Federation and the Ministry of Sport to oversee strategic planning and delivery of the event for the next three years, 2024-26, particularly working to grow the profile of tennis across the Middle East, and play a central role in promoting healthy lifestyles to young people around the region.

As the Kingdom continues to raise its financial investment in professional tennis, which includes title sponsorship of both the ATP and WTA rankings, the Saudi Tennis Federation has said that it wants 1 million players in the country by 2030.

“I feel very privileged to be able to contribute to the future of this great sport as Tournament Director of the WTA Finals Riyadh,” Muguruza said. “I know how special this event is for our top players, and I’ve also seen its potential to inspire communities all over the world.

“I’m excited to work with a great team to present a showcase for women’s tennis that not only grows tennis but encourages all fans, and especially girls and women, to pursue their dreams.”


Former World No 1 Garbiñe Muguruza becomes the first player to assume the leadership position at season finale, helping to grow women’s tennis in Middle East and beyond

WTAtennis.com

Muguruza qualified for the WTA Finals on 4 occasions, capturing the Billie Jean King Trophy at Guadalajara, Mexico in 2021.

During her playing career she won 10 singles titles including 2 Grand Slam trophies, at Roland-Garros in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, while she is the only player to have defeated both Serena and Venus Williams in a major final.

Other notable results included 3 WTA 1000 titles, the China Open in 2015, the Cincinnati Open in 2017 and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in 2021.

Muguruza rose to World No 1 in the rankings on 11 September, 2017, and held the top spot for 4 weeks.

In doubles, she achieved a career-high ranking of No 10 in 2015, and won 5 titles, 3 of them alongside her compatriot Carla Suárez Navarro, with whom she reached the championship match at the WTA Finals in Singapore in 2015.

“Garbiñe is a global role model who understands the power of sport to make a difference to people from all walks of life,” said Steve Simon, Chairman and CEO of the WTA. “I know she will have the best interests of our players at heart, while remaining dedicated to the wider goals of participation and inclusivity — values on which the WTA was founded.

“She is a true champion, on and off court, and the perfect candidate for this critical role in what we believe will be a thrilling WTA Finals.”

The Spaniard joins a growing list of former players who currently hold Tournament Director posts on the Hologic WTA Tour, including Alicia Molik (Adelaide), Anke Huber (Stuttgart), Laura Robson (Nottingham), Barbara Rittner (Berlin) and Valérie Tétreault (Montréal), while Amélie Mauresmo took over as Tournament Director of Roland-Garros in 2021, and Conchita Martinez, Muguruza’s former coach, has presided over the Billie Jean King Cup Finals since last year.

Muguruza may face a trickier time of things than these others, though, against a backdrop of controversy over the WTA’s choice of venue for its season-ending Finals.

Several high-profile figures, including Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, have criticised the decision to move this to Saudi Arabia, with several human rights groups also critical of the move.

Current WTA stars have largely been ambivalent towards the move, although Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula have openly supported the decision.


Judy Murray takes on the role of WTA Finals Community Ambassador to lead grassroots development in Saudi Arabia

WTAtennis.com

Muguruza’s appointment builds on news that renowned tennis coach Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie Murray, will serve as the WTA Finals Community Ambassador, leading a series of grassroots-level engagements, including visits to Saudi schools to conduct coaching clinics and mentoring sessions, while training local workforces to enable them to build upon current tennis programs and develop new initiatives.

The WTA Finals Riyadh moves to the Saudi Arabian capital for 2024 on a 3-year deal, and offers a record $15.25 million in prize money.




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