WTA signs multi-year partnership with Saudi Arabia's PIF

League: Tennis

Posted on: 20 May, 2024 at 09:08 PM

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The WTA entered a "multi-year partnership" with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) that will see the PIF become the first naming rights sponsor of the WTA rankings.

The controversial wealth fund, known for bankrolling LIV Golf and pursuing a merger agreement with the PGA Tour, has worked to establish a foothold in professional tennis.

The PIF became a partner of the equivalent men's tour, the ATP, earlier this year. It has also previously been a sponsor of individual WTA 1000 events held in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing, some of the most important non-Grand Slam tournaments in the sport.

"Together, we look forward to sharing the journey of our talented players across the season, as we continue to grow the sport, creating more fans of tennis and inspiring more young people to take up the game," WTA Ventures CEO Marina Storti said in a statement.

The PIF's efforts to invest in global sports have been met with widespread criticism of an attempt to "sportswash" Saudi Arabia's global image, distracting from its human rights record.

When the WTA announced that Riyadh will host the prestigious year-end WTA Finals for three years, beginning in 2024, tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert wrote a Washington Post op-ed criticizing Saudi Arabia's track record on women's rights.

"Through our partnership with WTA, PIF will continue to be a catalyst for the growth of women's sport," PIF head of corporate brand Mohamed AlSayyad said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the WTA to increase participation and inspire the next generation of talent. Underpinned by PIF's four strategic sponsorship pillars, this partnership aligns with our ambition to elevate the game and bring positive growth to the sport around the world."

--Field Level Media