Global balance key to calendar: WTA chief

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has aggressively expanded its presence in China in recent years, going from two events in 2012 to hosting eight tournaments on the Tour calendar this year.

But according to its chief executive officer Steve Simon, it is unlikely to slot in any more events in China in the near future.

Speaking to reporters at the Wuhan Open, on the eve of China's National Day, he said: "I want to maintain that global balance.

"One thing that is important to me is to not over-saturate the market. I don't believe in piling on new events.

"We've had a lot of success in this market, but I wouldn't see myself adding more events to this market."

The Wuhan tournament, a premier 5 event which is two tiers lower than the Grand Slams, is one of six new WTA events that have sprung up in China over the past three years. Shenzhen (2013), Wuhan, Nanchang, Tianjin (2014), Dalian and Zhuhai (2015) each host a tournament.

In comparison, the United States hosted seven events this year, excluding the US Open.

However, Simon has noticed that the jam-packed calendar has taken its toll on the players, especially towards the end of the season.

The fatigue is reflected in the Wuhan Open draw, which saw six retirements in the early rounds.

World No. 2 Serena Williams has yet to complete a match in Wuhan. The American retired during her first appearance in 2014, and she has skipped the Wuhan-Beijing swing for the second year running.

Simon defended Williams, but said: "No one likes pull-outs. They're not playing if they are hurt. But this year, when you throw in an Olympics in the middle of the summer, you're going to feel tired at the end of the year."

While he stopped short of announcing changes to the calendar, Simon said he would relook the tournament schedule to allow players to last longer through the season.

He said: "What we don't want to do is to cram things into the calendar, which was a tendency in the past, to create new things that are just clutter.

"We have to figure out how to create the right pace in the schedule to give (the players) a better chance to finish the year healthy."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Global balance key to calendar: WTA chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe