Records, history and the evolution of showpiece event of women’s tennis

The WTA Finals: A Celebration of Women’s Tennis for Over 50 Years

For more than half a century, the WTA Finals have showcased the talent and skill of the world’s best women tennis players. This end-of-year championship brings together the top eight singles players and doubles pairings to compete for the ultimate title.

The tournament has come a long way since its humble beginnings and has now become a lucrative showpiece event. In 1972, the first edition of the tournament, known as the Virginia Slims Championships, took place. It was a year before the official formation of the WTA, but it is still recognized as the first in the organization’s history. The inaugural event was held in Boca Raton, Florida, and was won by 17-year-old Chris Evert, who went on to become one of the greatest female players of all time.

This tournament’s inception coincided with a historic time for women’s tennis. Billie Jean King, one of the sport’s biggest icons, was not only dominating on the court but also advocating for better conditions in women’s tennis. In 1973, King founded the WTA after a meeting with over 60 other players, uniting all of women’s professional tennis. That same year, she defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes.”

The WTA Finals continued to grow in popularity as women’s tennis entered a more prosperous era. Evert claimed the championship for the second consecutive year, and the championships were moved to Los Angeles and later to New York’s Madison Square Garden. The tournament stayed in the Big Apple for 20 years before embarking on a global tour, with locations including Spain, Turkey, Singapore, and this year’s host, Cancun, Mexico.

While the concept of the tournament has remained the same, several notable changes have taken place over the years. The playing surface shifted from clay to indoor carpet and then to indoor hard courts. The prize money has significantly increased, with this year’s singles champion having the potential to win over $3 million from a $9 million prize pot. The format of the event has also evolved, with matches now best-of-three sets and a round-robin group stage leading to the semifinals and final.

This year’s WTA Finals in Cancun will feature eight players who have never won the competition before. The world No. 1, Aryna Sabalenka, will be among the contenders, along with other notable players such as Markéta Vondroušová, Coco Gauff, Iga Świątek, Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula, and Maria Sakkari, who replaced the injured Karolína Muchová. Gauff and Pegula will also team up to compete in the doubles tournament as the top-ranked pair.

Previous champions of the WTA Finals include Martina Navratilova, who holds the record for the most singles titles, and Serena Williams and Steffi Graf, who have each won five titles. Legends like Margaret Court, Virginia Wade, and Billie Jean King have won the doubles tournament.

The 2023 WTA Finals will kick off on October 29 and culminate with the final on November 5. Don’t miss out on any CNN news and newsletters – create an account at


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