NEW YORK, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- China will host a record 10 WTA events in the coming season as the global leader in women's professional tennis on Thursday announced the 2015 calendar as well as changes to the 2014 calendar.
A new premier event in Wuhan, the home of China's 2011 French Open winner Li Na, will make its debut during Week 39, in addition to two inaugural international events in Tianjin and Hong Kong, China.
These three events will join the already-existing China Open, Guangzhou Tennis Open and Shenzhen Open, making it a record six WTA premier and international tournaments in China.
The WTA will also host four WTA 125K Series events (Nanchang, Suzhou, Ningbo, and Chinese Taipei) during 2014, making it a total of 10 WTA events in China. In comparison, there were only two WTA events in China during the 2012 season.
The WTA's long-term strategy of growing women's tennis in Asia is built around an expansive footprint in China and the region, as well as Singapore hosting the year-end WTA Championships for a record five years between 2014 and 2018. The WTA Championships will be transformed into an international sport entertainment spectacle featuring new events, including exhibitions between the WTA's Rising Stars and Legends, daily fan festivals, trade symposiums, business conferences, music events and a VIP Experience that will elevate WTA Championships fan engagement to a new level of success.
"Together with the continued success and growth of the China Open and the launch of the year-end WTA Championships in Singapore in 2014, the WTA's Asia growth strategy is in full force," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the WTA.
In 2014, the WTA's international breadth of tournaments will reach 33 countries/regions with 54 WTA premier and international events and six WTA 125K Series events, with the geographic spread of tournaments to include 23 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 17 in Asia-Pacific and 14 in the Americas.
In addition to four WTA 125K Series events in China, two additional events will take place in Raanana, Israel and Limoges, France.
The WTA introduced the WTA 125K Series in 2012 to provide an opportunity for emerging markets currently unable to host a full WTA event, as well as giving the WTA's up-and-coming players a chance to play extra tournaments.
The WTA will host two events in Brazil for the first time, with the addition of the Rio Open in Rio de Janeiro. A combined event, the Rio Open has set the foundation for the development of professional tennis in Brazil, setting the stage for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Rio joins Florianopolis (Brazil) and Bogota (Colombia) for a record three WTA events in South America in 2014.
In 2015, the WTA will continue to feature 54 WTA events with 23 events in EMEA, 17 in Asia-Pacific and 14 in the Americas. A historic addition to the 2015 calendar will include a longer grass court season, with an additional tournament in Nottingham, aimed to give the players additional time to prepare for Wimbledon.