WTA’s Singapore gamble hinges on wooing the public

WTA’s Singapore gamble hinges on wooing the public
Singapore’s 13-year-old Maxine Ng, a budding tennis player from Raffles Girls' School, holding the Singapore flag in the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul during the handover ceremony on 27 October 2013.

ISTANBUL - Turkey has no tennis superstars, not even one in the world's top 100.

Yet this football-loving nation has been going nuts about tennis for the past few years.

It was common to see signs such as "Turkey loves tennis" and "Istanbul loves WTA" inside the 16,000-capacity Sinan Erdem Dome, which has hosted the WTA Championships for the past three years.

And even though the tournament bade farewell to Turkey on Sunday, as it looks ahead to its Singapore move from next year, a "We will never forget you" sign suggests that the legacy of the tournament will live on.

After all, the event was a hit for both the WTA and Istanbul.

Close to 70,000 flocked to see the best women players this year, bringing the three-year total to more than 210,000 - the highest for the prestigious season finale since 2000. It was a marked improvement from Doha, which hosted the 2008-2010 events at a half-empty stadium.

The reception the world's top women players got prompted world No. 1 Serena Williams to pay tribute to the fans in Istanbul.

When asked about the championships moving to Singapore for the next five years, Williams said: "Well, I'm really excited and at the same time I'm really sad, because Istanbul was such a great place to host it. Everybody was so excited to be here. The fans were unbelievable and excellent.

"But you have to go to the next city."

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