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BENGALURU: The WTA is yet to decide on a venue for its 2024 season-ending Finals, the governing body of women’s tennis said, amid growing speculation the championship is headed to Saudi Arabia.

Cancun was named the venue for this year’s edition less than two months before it began on Oct. 29 and the Mexico event drew heavy criticism from world number two Aryna Sabalenka over the standard of organisation.

Multiple media outlets have said the Finals are set to move to Saudi Arabia and the BBC reported that negotiations were in the late stages with both parties keen on a multi-year deal.

“We are in discussions with various groups surrounding the 2024 WTA Finals and beyond and have not made any decisions at this time,” a WTA spokesperson said in an email.

“As with all WTA decisions, we are working closely with players and focused on continuing to build a strong future for women’s tennis.”

Shenzhen hosted the 2019 edition as part of a lucrative 10-year deal but the event was cancelled the following year due to COVID-19 and moved to Guadalajara, Mexico in 2021.

The tournament was expected to return to Shenzhen from 2022 but the WTA suspended tournaments in China due to concerns over the treatment of former doubles world number one Peng Shuai.

Fort Worth, Texas hosted the tournament that year and drew sparse crowds.

Djokovic says young rivals have awoken his inner ‘beast’

The men’s ATP Tour said in August its Next Gen Finals for under-21 players would be held in Jeddah from 2023 to 2027, marking its first official tournament in the Gulf state.

Saudi Arabia has pumped huge amounts of money into various sports including soccer, Formula One, boxing and golf, with critics accusing the country of using its Public Investment Fund to engage in “sportswashing” over its human rights record.

The kingdom denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security through its laws.

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