Iga Swiatek, the current world number one in women’s tennis, has expressed her readiness to play wherever the WTA decides, including Saudi Arabia, despite controversy surrounding the potential host. Saudi Arabia has faced allegations of attempting to “sportswash” their human rights record but has been increasing its global presence in recent years. Swiatek stated that she is waiting for official information concerning the matter and will be prepared to play in any location determined by the WTA.
WTA CEO Steve Simon acknowledged that taking the sport to Saudi Arabia is a challenging topic and said that the organization is evaluating the possibility of hosting the flagship end-of-season WTA Championships in the country. Simon previously visited Saudi Arabia in February to assess the situation firsthand and evaluate the changes that have taken place.
Swiatek, the reigning US Open and French Open champion, has been an active supporter of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. While she admitted that she hasn’t considered the potential pitfalls of Saudi Arabia, she believes that she and her fellow players can have an influence on any decision made. She expressed her thoughts on the matter, emphasizing the power that the tennis community possesses and their ability to utilize it for change.
The interest shown by Saudi Arabia in women’s tennis has also captured the attention of ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi, who has had “positive” discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund regarding a potential agreement. This announcement drew criticism from tennis legends John McEnroe and Chris Evert. Saudi Arabia has been making waves in the sports industry, signing up prominent football stars and financing various sports events.
In the meantime, Swiatek, who just won her third French Open title, remains confident about her chances at Wimbledon despite recently suffering from food poisoning, which caused her to withdraw from the Bad Homburg event. She assured that she is feeling better and believes that she will be able to perform well in the upcoming tournament. Swiatek is scheduled to face China’s Zhu Lin in the first round, and she hopes to surpass her previous performance at the All England Club, where she has not advanced past the last 16.