Tennis: Ashleigh Barty first to qualify for WTA Finals in Shenzhen

Ashleigh Barty will be the first Australian to compete at the tournament since Samantha Stosur in 2012.
Ashleigh Barty will be the first Australian to compete at the tournament since Samantha Stosur in 2012.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - World No. 1 Ash Barty has become the first player to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, the WTA Tour has said.

The 23-year-old, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open this year, will be making her singles debut in the Oct 27-Nov 3 Finals, which offer US$14 million (S$19.3 million) in prize money.

The season-ending event will also be the first time it is held in China, following five years in Singapore.

"It's been a goal from the very start of the year to qualify for the WTA Finals," Barty, Australia's first women's No. 1 since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976, told the WTA website.

"I'm proud of the work my team and I have put in to get to this point, and I'm honoured to be among the top eight players of the season."

Barty will be the first Australian to compete at the tournament since Samantha Stosur in 2012.

The top eight singles players will face off in a round-robin format with the winner taking home the Billie Jean King Trophy.