Tennis: WTA considers new women's team event

SINGAPORE - The WTA, the governing body for women's tennis, is considering a plan to set up its own team event.

Women already compete in the Fed Cup, which is run by the ITF (International Tennis Federation) but the WTA is looking at starting up its own tournament.

WTA chief executive Stacey Allaster told a news conference on Saturday that the proposal was still in the early stages but if it went ahead, it would most likely be restricted to the top eight countries and played over five days.

"We are going to go to market and see if the market is really there," Allaster said at the annual State of the Tour address in Singapore. "We haven't decided if we're going to do it. "However, we believe we have a responsibility. I think the demand is there. Others are doing it. If we don't do it, someone else is going to do it. In fact, somebody is doing it."

Allaster said that while there may be some resistance to starting up the tournament, the WTA had a long history of overcoming struggles so had an obligation to at least look at the proposal.

"Our story is inspirational from the original nine, to breaking barriers, equal prize money, coming to Asia, you know, having the courage to do all that," she said.

"I'm sure in 1970 and 1973 it was not comfortable breaking away from tradition. And Billie (Jean King) often says, 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. I think that the WTA owning its own team event, if we think about (golf's) Ryder (Cup), how successful that event is, that would be an amazing asset in the short and the long-term for the WTA."

In a wide ranging address, Allaster also announced the appointment of business executive Micky Lawler as the new WTA president, and spoke about the WTA's huge growth in Asia, particularly China, which will feature 11 WTA events next year.

"Forty per cent of the world's population lives within a seven-hour radius from here, which is really quite amazing," she said.

"We think about the growth, this is where we can have some real exponential growth. But you've got to be in these markets."