WTA chief bestows 'best' tag on Singapore

Women's Tennis Association (WTA) CEO Stacey Allaster says the Singapore event "exceeded our expectations".
Women's Tennis Association (WTA) CEO Stacey Allaster says the Singapore event "exceeded our expectations".ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

It may be the first time that the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals has been held in Singapore but Women's Tennis Association (WTA) chief executive Stacey Allaster's already ranks this edition as the best of all time.

Speaking at the annual State Of The WTA address yesterday, she said: "(I'd give it) 10 out of 10. It's exceeded our expectations.

"It has been our collective goal... to make this the best WTA Finals in our history. We have done it.

"I can't wait for next year because I think we will continue to build on the excitement."

World No. 1 Serena Williams agreed. She said: "It's been an amazing experience. I've had a wonderful time here. I think everyone has been incredibly hospitable."

One positive note was the overall attendance figure for the Oct 17-26 tournament, which stood at 92,000 before yesterday's and today's matches.

Allaster estimates it would finish close to 100,000, the first time in over a decade that the event has hit six figures.

The 51-year-old was also pleased to have launched the WTA Future Stars and Rising Stars youth tournaments, as well as the Legends events at this year's edition, the first of five to be held in Singapore.

On upping the ante for next year, the Canadian said: "We'll have more fan engagement, more dialogue with the players... it's the opportunity for the fans to get close. That's what we want to do - accessibility."

While the event was largely successful, it was also hit by a couple of minor snags. For example, a roof leakage at the Singapore Indoor Stadium occurred during the doubles quarter-final between Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina and Alla Kudryavtseva/ Anastasia Rodionova on Wednesday.

The blinding spotlights also drew criticism from Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki.

Said Allaster: "The lights issue was dealt with immediately. At live events, there'll always be something but what's most important is that it was corrected immediately.

"Obviously, we don't want to have a roof that drops water on the court because that's how an athlete can get injured. So that will be something in the post-event that we'll chat about. But in the grand scheme of everything, it is a detail that is easily addressed."

Allaster unveiled board member Micky Lawler as the WTA's new president, and said a World Cup event, featuring eight national teams, is being planned.

She said: "It's a shame that the players don't own the Grand Slams. That was one of the biggest mistakes that we've made. I don't want to make the same mistake."

Chua Siang Yee