Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The season-ending WTA Championships are
on tap for next week in Istanbul, where the world's top-eight women, with the
exception of Maria Sharapova, will battle for bragging rights ... and a lot of
The world No. 3, former No. 1 and French Open runner-up Sharapova will have to
wait until next year due to a right shoulder injury, which also forced her to
miss the U.S. Open.
For the second year in a row, eight players will represent eight different
countries at the lucrative extravaganza, as world No. 1 Serena Williams
(United States), Australian Open champion, U.S. Open runner-up and 2011
Istanbul finalist Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland),
Aussie Open runner-up Li Na (China), Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic), Sara
Errani (Italy), Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) and Angelique Kerber (Germany) will
be on hand in Turkey, which hosts the event for the last time.
A record-setting $6 million in prize money will be available at the most
prestigious event on the WTA calendar outside the Grand Slams.
"If Istanbul's debut staging of the Championships was stunning, last year's
was even better, and I have no doubt the best will be saved for last," said
WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster. "This has truly been a People's
Championships and our players are ready to show their best tennis in front of
the amazing Turkish fans for the third and final time."
The elite all-star tournament will move to Singapore for five years, starting
Note: The U.S. hasn't hosted the Championships since 2005 (Los Angeles), this
after hosting 33 of the first 34 events, including 22 straight at New York
City's Madison Square Garden from 1979-2000.
The three-time titlist Serena will head to Istanbul as the defending champ.
The American great/reigning U.S. and French Open queen beat the 2004
Championships victor Sharapova, 6-4, 6-3, in last year's marquee finale.
"The support we received from the fans last year was overwhelming and it's
going to be a very special feeling returning to Turkey and playing in that
incredible atmosphere again," Serena said.
Unfortunately, there won't be any year-end No. 1 drama next week as Serena
has already clinched that coveted perch for the third time in her career.
The latest Championships field will feature only two former winners, Serena
and the always-dangerous 2011 titlist Kvitova. Serena will try to give the
U.S. its first back-to-back Championships victor since Czech-born Martina
Navratilova back in 1986. The last back-to-back American-born champ was Chris
Evert 40 years ago.
Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli, of course, will not play next week as she
retired from the tour back in August.
Did You Know?: Istanbul is the only city in the world situated on two
- Navratilova holds the record with eight singles and 12 doubles titles at the
- Navratilova also holds the record with six runner-up finishes, while Evert
lost in four such finals.
- The four-time champion Evert captured the first-ever WTA Championships title
in Boca Raton in 1972, beating Aussie Kerry Melville Reid in the final.
- The U.S. leads all nations with 15 singles titles at the Championships, while
Germany is next with six, five of which came from Steffi Graf, who trails
only Navratilova for Championships supremacy.
- Six women have captured the Championships at least three times -- Navratilova
(8), Graf (5) Evert (4), Serena (3), Monica Seles (3) and Kim Clijsters
The 2013 WTA Championships will commence Tuesday in Turkey.
The Sports Network