Dubai Duty Free Tennis celebrates WTA's 50th anniversary

World No 1 Iga Swiatek cut a special cake to commemorate the organising body of women’s professional tennis' landmark

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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World number one Iga Swiatek, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free; Ramesh Cidambi; COO of Dubai Duty Free; Salah Tahlak, Joint COO of Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President, Marketing of Dubai Duty Free; and Steve Simon, WTA CEO; celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the WTA. — Supplied photo
World number one Iga Swiatek, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free; Ramesh Cidambi; COO of Dubai Duty Free; Salah Tahlak, Joint COO of Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President, Marketing of Dubai Duty Free; and Steve Simon, WTA CEO; celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the WTA. — Supplied photo

Published: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 10:16 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 10:17 PM

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the governing body of the women’s game, continued its year-long 50th Anniversary celebrations with a beautiful felicitation ceremony on Centre Court during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The iconic Dubai Duty-Free Tennis stadium has long been the social and entertainment centre of Dubai’s sports-loving community and there was joy around as World No 1 Iga Swiatek cut a special cake to commemorate the organising body of women’s professional tennis’ landmark.

A video showcasing the highlights of the past 50 years on the women’s tour set the mood for the celebrations which were attended by Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman and officials from the Dubai Duty Free.

“Thank you for the recognition of the past 50 years,” said Simon. “You saw by the video what the past 50 years have meant.

“The WTA was started with the premise to provide every woman athlete who had the ability with a place to play tennis. It has now grown to over 70 events worldwide, 600 athletes competing on the WTA Tour and a global broadcast audience of over 900 million.

“What we are excited about is the next 50 years,” added Simon to the cheers of the fans.

“And when you look at the next 50 years and you have champions like Iga Swiatek and partnership members such as Dubai Duty Free, and the team we have at the WTA, I think it’s only going to be a very exciting next 50 years.”

Simon was presented with a replica of the iconic silver coffee pot trophy that has been awarded to the winner of the WTA 1000 event in Dubai by Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free.

The brain and the driving force behind both the women’s and men’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships expressed his happiness on the WTA’s milepost and its partnership with Dubai’s premier sporting event.

“I’m absolutely delighted that Dubai Duty Free decided to do tennis in the first place and I’m really happy that we joined the ladies on tour when we had the opportunity, which was 21 years ago,” said McLoughlin, the dynamic head of the world’s leading airport retailer.

“I have never lost an opportunity to boast about the fact that at that time Dubai Duty Free was quite happy to pay equal prize money to the ladies and the men, and I’m very happy we did that and I’m very happy that we continue to do so.

“Everyone knows we started the tennis with a temporary stadium and then we built this stadium, which has a capacity of 5,000. I’m also delighted that each year the number of people attending rises and this year the ladies so far is well ahead,” he added.

“I want to thank the WTA and congratulate them on their 50th year.”

Women’s singles finalist Swiatek was then invited by McLoughlin and other members of the Dubai Duty Free family, including Ramesh Cidambi; COO of Dubai Duty Free; Salah Tahlak, Joint COO of Dubai Duty Free, and Tournament Director of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President, Marketing of Dubai Duty Free to cut the anniversary cake.

The WTA’s season-long 50th-anniversary celebrations in 2023 will continue under the campaign banner WTA 50: Just Starting.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) was founded at a meeting of players organised by tennis legend Billie Jean King on June 21, 1973, on the eve of the Wimbledon Championships.

The decision to form the WTA was taken at London’s Gloucester Hotel, a venue that is synonymous with hosting major sports events.

Having started with humble intentions, the player union has grown to become one of the leading member associations between athletes' tournaments on six continents that comprise the WTA Tour calendar each year.

This year, five decades later, there are as many as 32 countries represented in the Top 100 of the WTA Rankings.


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