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Women’s tennis signs partnership with the Saudi PIF

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) will become the first-ever naming partner in the WTA rankings, the two organizations announced on Monday, as part of a multi-year partnership.

The announcement marks the PIF’s latest foray into tennis, after the men’s ATP tour also signed a multi-year ‘strategic partnership’ earlier this year.

“Together we look forward to sharing the journey of our talented players throughout the season as we continue to grow the sport, create more tennis fans and inspire more young people to play the game,” said Marina Storti, CEO of WTA Ventures. a statement.

The announcement marks the latest step in a dramatic shift at the women’s tour, which has previously been reluctant to embrace a Saudi partnership.

Outgoing CEO Steve Simon said last year that Saudi Arabia is posing “major challenges” in hosting women’s tennis events.

But in April it was announced that the season-ending WTA Finals will be held in the Saudi capital Riyadh from 2024 to 2026, with the Saudi Tennis Federation set to pay out a record prize fund of $15.25 million this year.

The announcement came despite opposition from retired greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, while Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, who came out as gay in 2022, also expressed reservations.

Women’s rights activists and members of the LGBTQ community accused the country of “sportswashing” and criticized Saudi Arabia’s human rights record as it pumps huge amounts of money into football, Formula 1 and the LIV golf circuit .

Mohamed AlSayyad, head of corporate brand at PIF, said the organization “will continue to be a catalyst for the growth of women’s sports.”

“We look forward to working with the WTA to increase participation and inspire the next generation of talent,” he said in a statement. (Reuters)