One of tennis’ biggest tournaments could be heading to Great Britain, with Manchester representatives declaring an interest in staging the WTA Finals from 2019.
The season-ending event features the best eight female players in the world and is currently four years into a five-year deal with Singapore.
The WTA has started to explore potential new venues with the WTA confirming that Manchester was a strong contender to host the marquee tournament.
“We are talking to a number of venues that have indicated an interest in the WTA Finals event for 2019 and beyond,” the WTA said in a statement.
“We're in the early stages of this process. Manchester is one of several destinations that have reflected an initial interest in learning more about the opportunity.”
London’s O2 Arena has successfully held the ATP Tour Finals – the men’s equivalent of the WTA event – since 2009, and last year it was announced that the competition would remain in London until at least 2018.
London saw off interest from Beijing and Abu Dhabi to retain the competition, with the ATP delighted with annual attendance of just over 260,000 people, as well as strong television viewing figures.
The appeal of Manchester to the WTA is therefore easy to see, especially considering the WTA Finals traditionally attract far lower crowds. The 2015 tournament – which Serena Williams did not compete in – suffered from particularly low attendance, with not one of the Singapore sessions ending in a sellout.
The WTA Finals have been held in a number of different competitions since the inaugural event 45-years ago, which was won by Chris Evert.
The tournament was repeatedly held in the United States until the year 2000, when it moved to Munich, and it has been held in Madrid, Doha, Istanbul and Singapore since then.
With seven of the world’s top eight players currently being European – including Great Britain’s Johanna Konta – there appears to be a strong case to bring the tournament back to Europe from Southeast Asia.