| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

Singapore will host the WTA Championships, the most prestigious event on the WTA calendar, from 2014 to 2018. Under terms of the five-year agreement, the top eight singles players and, for the first time, the top eight doubles teams, will compete for a share of a record prize money purse of $6.5 million. The announcement follows an extensive global search and bidding process conducted by the WTA that elicited 43 expressions of interest from international cities that was narrowed down to three finalists-Tianjin, China; Monterrey, México; and Singapore.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce that the sensational city of Singapore has won the right to host the WTA Championships, the WTA's crown jewel season finale, for the next five years from 2014 to 2018," Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of the WTA. "This is the largest and most significant WTA Championships partnership in our history. It's a record-breaker."

The state-of-the-art $1.3 billion Singapore Sports Hub, located in the heart of the city, will host the WTA Championships at the 7,500-seat, Singapore Indoor Stadium, an established venue with a history of hosting some of the biggest sports and entertainment performances from across the globe. The hosts will transform the year-end world class tennis event into an international entertainment spectacle featuring new events - WTA Future Stars, WTA Legends exhibition matches, concerts, coaches and trade symposiums, Women in Business Leadership Conference, daily fan festivals open to the public, and a VIP experience that will elevate the fan experience to a unique year-end celebration.

With the addition of Singapore, 23 WTA events will be staged in the Asia-Pacific market in 2014, marking the first time in WTA history that there will be more tournaments in APAC than any other region in the world. Since 2008, when the WTA began its strategic priority to grow the brand and tournament footprint, five events have been added in the region, including the introduction of a new level of WTA professional tennis, the WTA 125K Series, to meet demand for the interest in women's pro tennis in Asia. Attendance, broadcast and digital exposure have set new records in the region.

"It's incredibly exciting to have our WTA Championships heading to Singapore, which is a fantastic sporting city," Maria Sharapova said. "Women's tennis is truly international, and bringing our very best event to fantastic new markets like Singapore is great way to continue to grow the sport. I can't wait to help introduce the fans of Singapore to the year-end WTA Championships."

Singapore will become the ninth different city to host the WTA Championships following Boca Raton (1972-1973), Los Angeles (1974-1976, 2002-2005), Oakland (1978), New York City (1977, 1979-2000), Munich (2001), Madrid (2006-2007), Doha (2008-2010) and currently Istanbul (2011-2013).


"Singapore is a wonderful city and I am really looking forward to playing our season finale in this exciting new market for women's tennis," Serena Williams said. "I've been fortunate to qualify for WTA Championships in five different cities during my career, and I know that our new partners in Singapore and the fans of Singapore will help make take our WTA Championships to new heights."

2013 will be the 43rd staging of the WTA Championships (with the inaugural staging in 1972) and the third and final year the event be hosted in Istanbul. There have been 18 different winners in the event's history with champions from 10 different nations including Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Viewed by a record 43.8 million viewers with close to 1000 broadcast hours, the WTA Championships was the most-watched WTA event of 2012. Additionally, 2012 registered the highest attendance figures in 12 years with 73,072 fans and set record broadcast and digital audience milestones with coverage in 167 countries through 22 international TV broadcasters.