Singapore will host the elite WTA Finals for the last time in 2018, organisers said on Wednesday (Jan 17), ending the season-ending tournament’s run in the country.

The US$7 million event, which Singapore took over from Istanbul in 2014, sees the top eight female players battle it out for the Billie Jean King trophy, and is part a busy end-of-year schedule focused on Asia.

Event organiser Lagardere Sports confirmed the decision on Wednesday in a joint statement with the country’s tourism authorities and the national sports agency.

“With the five-year contract for hosting … ending in 2018, the Singapore Tourism Board and Sport Singapore evaluated the opportunity of a potential extension and have decided not to pursue this,” the statement read, without giving further details.

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chief Steve Simon said in 2016 the body was searching for a permanent base for the season-finale, and Singapore was a location it “would be very proud to call home”.

But last year he said the WTA had also received bids from Manchester, Prague, St Petersburg and Shenzhen to host the event, according to local media.

The tournament would be moved to a “new stadium” in Shenzhen, local daily the Straits Times reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

China already hosts a number of top-level tour tournaments and has several purpose-built facilities.

They include a new tennis centre with a 5,000-seat centre court in the southern city of Zhuhai, while in Wuhan there is a main stadium for 15,000 spectators, similar to Wimbledon.

Without Singappore, the women’s tour will have no longer have an event in Southeast Asia.

A spokeswoman for the WTA declined to comment on the news. “We are not commenting on who is in or out. What you have heard is speculation and nothing is final,” she said.

Singapore’s last WTA Finals will be held from Oct 21 to 28 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Records show that 133,000 fans attended the event last year, an increase from the 129,000 in 2014.

Source: AFP/de