Martina Navratilova believes it could be time for new leadership at the WTA following the tour’s disastrous season-ending championships, which has been marred with complaints from players about the organisation of the event in Cancun, Mexico. The final has been delayed by 24 hours because of repeated weather interruptions and will now be played on Monday.
As a result, pressure has been piled on WTA chief Steve Simon. He has come under fire on multiple occasions during his eight-year tenure for questionable decisions. Navratilova, a 59-times grand slam champion across singles and doubles, has called for change.
“Maybe it’s time for new leadership,” the 67-year-old said. “For me personally, this being a woman’s association and being involved for such a long time from the beginning, we’ve only had two women at the head of it. I think it’s time, hopefully when we get a new leader, that it’s a woman.
“There’s plenty of them that are qualified for the job. It’s going to be hard for Steve to stay in the job somehow because everything is pointing the other way right now.”
Simon told the players in a letter last week that the WTA accepted responsibility for the “challenging conditions” in Cancun but Navratilova has pointed toward a series of bad decisions in the build-up. “It shouldn’t have come that late in the year, making this decision,” Navratilova said. “There was a sequence of bad decisions. Ultimately, Steve Simon has been the boss for eight years and here we are.
“The players adjusted [to the conditions], they had to. But to come to Cancun in the rainy season? You cannot be hoping it’s not going to rain at the premier event for the WTA Tour. It was just a whole bunch of decisions. You have to own the bad decisions you made and make some choices after that.”
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The WBA final in Cancun was due to be contested by Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Polish top seed, Iga Swiatek. To reach the final, Swiatek flattened American Coco Gauff in straight sets before beating Ons Jabeur. “In the second set, obviously, it got tighter,” Swiatek told reporters after beating Gauff. “I was happy I stayed focused. I had plenty of chances in her first service games to break back, but I knew somehow I would use one of those chances.”
She added: “I would say this match wasn’t consistent, in terms of the level. For sure, adjusting to everything that happened was the most important thing. It took me a while because I was a break down in the second set. I’m happy that I could actually problem solve a little the way to win these last games. And the key was, maybe being confident and mentally not focusing on the score, but really just sticking with the plan that worked in the first set.”
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