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From Auckland to Zhuhai, the players and tournaments of the WTA Tour provide non-stop, top-class tennis from January until November as some of the world’s biggest stars in any sport compete around the world in over 55 events.
The WTA Tour’s roots go back to tennis legend Billie Jean King and her eight comrades, known as the ‘Original Nine’, who each signed a $1 agreement in September 1970 that was the beginning of women’s professional tennis. Battling against the sexism and snobbery that led to a shocking disparity between the prize money offered to men and women, the women of tennis – led by King – founded the WTA in a hotel room in London in 1973, uniting all of women’s professional tennis.
A series of legendary champions – Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Serena and Venus Williams and many more – continued to push the boundaries of what women’s tennis could be and achieve and when Venus Williams was instrumental in ensuring that the French Open and Wimbledon offered equal prize money for the first time in 2007, the WTA Tour’s battle for and example of equality reached another milestone.
The WTA continues to evolve and now includes well over 50 events played in 33 countries, with players representing almost 100 nations competing and well over $125 million in prize money. Women’s tennis continues to expand into Asia and China specifically after the popular Li Na became a Grand Slam champion, with the addition of a landmark Premier 5 event in Wuhan.
The four Grand Slams – the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open – remain the benchmark for excellence in tennis, but the regular WTA Tour becomes ever more fast-paced and thrilling with five levels of events. Premier Mandatory events in Indian Wells, Madrid, Miami and Beijing feature all the top players, with the Premier 5 events in Dubai, Rome, Toronto/Montreal and Wuhan attracting a scarcely less glittering field.
12 Premier events, starting at the Brisbane International in January and running through to the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in October, also attract many of the world’s best and are played alongside over 30 International events across Europe, Asia, South America and the USA.
The ranking points accumulated over the course of a single season are fiercely contested, with the top eight players competing at the WTA’s signature tour-ending championships, the WTA Tour Finals, to be held in Singapore until 2018.