From left to right: Melissa Pine (WTA Championships tournament director), Simon Cheong (chief executive officer of SC Global), Singapore's Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, and Andrew Georgiou (chief executive officer of World Sport Group). All photos: World Sport Group
From 2014 to 2018, Singapore will be welcoming the top eight women’s singles and doubles tennis players in the world for the BNP Paribas Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Championships.
This year, the 10-day women’s tennis tournament will be held at the $1.3 billion Singapore Sports Hub from 17 to 26 October. And Singapore is the first Asia-Pacific host of the event.
The event also has a new Singapore sponsor, which is aiming to support and nurture children to take up the sports.
On Thursday 3 April, Singaporean luxury lifestyle developer SC Global was announced as the global presenting sponsor for the tournament. The value of the five-year sponsorship was not disclosed.
Comparing the championships to Formula One, Simon Cheong, chairman and chief executive officer of SC Global Developments, said: “There are very few events with such world-standard participants coming to Singapore.”
TENNIS IN SCHOOLS
As part of the sponsorship, SC Global is also in the early stages of rolling out 'SC Global Tennis for Every Child', a grassroots programme that hopes to widen interest and increase participation in tennis.
The company will be investing “$300,000 over five years”, Cheong said.
Minister Second Minister for Trade and Industry (back row, second from right) joins some of the beneficiaries of the 'SC Global Tennis for Every Child' programme on the courts at the Singapore Cricket Club
The programme will tie up with a few primary schools, in the form of Physical Education lessons and co-curricular activities (CCAs).
Cheong, 57, who has played tennis for most of his life, hopes this will “build a lasting legacy for Singaporean sport after the championships concludes".
A FUTURE SINGAPORE TENNIS STAR
Melissa Pine, the WTA Championships tournament director, hopes that having the event in Singapore will “inspire young girls to pick up a racket”.
The WTA’s long term goal is to one day “generate a future Singaporean tennis star”.
Her hope is that “one day a Grand Slam champion will say that someone like Li Na inspired her”.
Tennis in Asia has seen a boost with the likes of Asian players such as China’s Li Na clinching the title at the recent Australian Open.
The current top eight, and perhaps some of the faces Singapore will be seeing at the tournament later this year, include current world top two players Serena Williams and Li Na.
The one to watch is also Swiss player Martina Hingis. The former world number one recently won the Miami Doubles title with Sabine Lisciki on 30 March.
Pine said: “We want to stage the most prestigious WTA Championships in history, right here in Singapore. We want to create a legacy and a community.”
Singapore is the ninth city to stage the event. It has been held in cities such as Istanbul and Doha previously.
The WTA Championships is considered the fifth most prestigious event on the women’s tour after the four Grand Slam tournaments, due to ranking points and the large prize money.
Ticket details will be announced in two weeks' time.