PIF and WTA announce partnership

Following in the ATP's footsteps, the WTA now has PIF financing and backing

It did not send shock waves through the professional tennis world because it was somewhat expected, but the WTA's recent announcement of a multi-year partnership with the PIF (Public Investment Fund) is significant.

Faster than the ink could dry on the signed documents, PIF's name and logo was atop the WTA rankings. It is worth noting that the WTA has never had a ranking sponsor before.

For those who have discussed the persistent lack of planning for the year-end WTA Finals, that problem is now permanently solved since PIF will be managing it, and the location was previously announced as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 2023's slapstick and ill-advised decision to have the event in Cancun and build a court on a golf course weeks before the event occurring during hurricane season will not happen again.

Is this PIF partnership good news for the WTA?

Because the WTA Finals decision had already been known, it feels as though this movement into a PIF and Saudi Arabian partnership has already been aired in the court of public opinion. Former players, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, are staunch opponents.

Tunisian player Ons Jabeur is in favor of it; whereas others like Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula have indicated that this new Middle Eastern direction for the sport has to include ways to improve the human rights and living situation for women in Saudi Arabia.

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As part of the agreement, PIF is committed to working together with the WTA "to enhance and develop initiatives to support players." This includes creating pathways for girls and women around the world to take up tennis.

It remains to be seen how former and current players will react to this long-term deal between the WTA and PIF months after the February 2024 announcement of a similar deal with the ATP. Professional tennis clearly has financial hardships to take such drastic measures.

The sport needs to evolve and improve, fewer tournaments and more crowded stadiums should be the goal. Hopefully those events are not exclusively moved to the Middle East, and American tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, Cincinnati, and others continue to evolve and flourish.

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