Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have written an open letter to the WTA imploring the organization to not hold the year-end WTA Finals in Saudi Arabia. In a letter that Sports Illustrated received a copy of, the two all-time greats penned their thoughts on how holding an important women's sporting event would be against what the WTA stands for. That is the WTA was formed to help female tennis players achieve equality within the game and Saudi Arabia does not see men and women as equals, Evert and Navratilova write.
Part of the problem, of course, is the money that Saudi Arabia can pour into any sport. Through the nation's Public Investment Fund, billions of dollars can be issued to help bring different sports to the country. Money can buy a lot of things, of course. But Evert and Navratilova don't want the money to buy the soul of women's tennis.
The Saudi PIF has already caused a split in golf. The fund was used to lure players to participate in the LIV golf tour which the PGA stood against. Many players left the PGA as they were going to get paid a lot more to be involved in the LIV tour. Professional golfers, just like professional tennis players, play their sport to make an income. Saying "no" to a lot of money is difficult.
Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova voice strong opposition
Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova hope to put a stop to any Saudi Arabian involvement in women's tennis before that begins, however. Saudi Arabia has a long list of reported human rights violations and that includes the alleged subjugation of women toward men.
In the letter to the WTA, Evert and Navratilova writer, in part, "We fully appreciate the importance of respecting diverse cultures and religions. It is because of this, and not in spite of it, that we believe allowing Saudi Arabia to host the WTA finals is entirely incompatible with the spirit and purpose of women’s tennis, and the WTA itself."
As well as, "Taking the WTA finals to Saudi Arabia would represent taking a significant step backwards, to the detriment of the WTA, women’s sports and women."
Still, the likelihood is that the WTA will choose to take the Saudi money and hold the WTA Finals this year in the country. Of course, the WTA has not been the brightest about the locations in which they hold the year-end finals. For the last couple of years the Finals have been held in Cancun, Mexico when the weather is not good. Wind and rain have affected the play. But at least that was the only concern and Cancun did not affect the future of women's tennis like Saudi Arabia could.