FORT WORTH, TX, USA – The WTA announced today that two of the game’s all-time greats, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, will attend this month’s 2022 WTA Finals Fort Worth as Legend Ambassadors to the season-ending event which runs at Dickies Arena from October 31–November 7.
During her career Evert, who won the first edition of the Tour’s season finale at Boca Raton, Florida in 1972, captured four WTA Finals singles titles. For her part, Navratilova holds the record for most singles titles (eight) and doubles titles (13) at the WTA’s crown jewel event and the tournament’s doubles trophy is named in her honor.
The two former World No.1s each won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and built an unmatched rivalry that ended 43-37 in Navratilova’s favor. Between them, they pocketed 12 of the first 16 editions of the WTA Finals and as Legend Ambassadors, will join forces to promote the game through a series of community engagement, sponsor and media initiatives.
“All these years later, it’s gratifying to reflect on the growth and global nature of women’s tennis, and I am thrilled to be part of the WTA Finals Fort Worth as our championships celebrate a wonderful milestone,” said Evert. “Over the past five decades the event has evolved significantly, but one thing hasn’t changed – the field features the best of the best, and fans are in for a treat.”
Said Navratilova: “I have great memories of playing the WTA Finals and can’t wait to see our sport’s elite singles and doubles players in action in Fort Worth – a city I used to call home. I’ll be cheering the athletes on as they finish the year on a high and I look forward to connecting with fans in a state that was very good to me when I first came to live in the States.”
The WTA Finals started out as the Virginia Slims Championships, the climactic event of the fledgling Virginia Slims Circuit. Although the tournament’s first staging pre-dates the formation of the WTA itself – by Billie Jean King in 1973 – its importance on the calendar was immediately recognized.
For the first staging in 1972, players accumulated qualifying points at 22 Slims events across the United States – the Grand Slams and other traditional tournaments were not part of calculations – and the $100,000 prize money purse marked an exciting new record for women’s tennis. A 17-year-old Evert, seeded No.4, defeated sixth seed Kerry Melville in the final – but due to her amateur status was unable to take home the unprecedented personal paycheck of $25,000.
In the years that followed, the event survived circuit restructures and date changes to become the spectacle players and fans enjoy today in 2022.
Fort Worth becomes the 12th city to play host and as part of commemorations for the 50th anniversary, the WTA today also announces that the round-robin group names for both singles and doubles will pay tribute to four prominent Americans who made their mark at the event in the Tour’s formative years – Hall of Famers Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Tracy Austin and Pam Shriver.
Singles Round-Robin (2 four-player groups)
Group Tracy Austin
Among her 30 career singles titles, Tracy Austin won the WTA Finals at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1980, defeating Navratilova for a victory that secured her the WTA World No.1 ranking for the first time (she had been runner-up to Navratilova the previous year). At Portland, Oregon in 1977, Austin became the first player to win a WTA title on her singles debut and the youngest-ever singles champion (14 years, 28 days). In 1979, she became the youngest US Open champion (16 years, 9 months), defeating Evert in the final, and she went on to capture the title again in 1981 with a win over Navratilova. She also won the mixed doubles title with her brother John at Wimbledon in 1980.
Group Nancy Richey
Former World No.2 and Texas native Nancy Richey reached six Grand Slam singles finals during her storied career, capturing the first major of the Open Era at Roland Garros in 1968 to add to her win at the Australian Championships the previous year. Among her 69 career singles titles she won the US Women’s Clay Court Championships a record six consecutive years and her other notable results included runner-up to Evert at the second staging of the WTA Finals in 1973. A four-time Grand Slam doubles champion from six finals, she is a member of the Original 9 founders of women’s professional tennis who competed at the groundbreaking first Virginia Slims event organized by promoter Gladys Heldman at the Houston Racquet Club in September, 1970.
Doubles Round-Robin (2 four-team groups)
Group Rosie Casals
Among her 11 career singles titles, Original 9 trailblazer Rosie Casals won the event that truly launched women’s professional tennis: the Virginia Slims Invitation at the Houston Racquet Club in September, 1970. Rising as high as No.3 in singles, she was a finalist at the US Open on two occasions, falling to Court in 1970 and to Billie Jean King in 1971. Her haul of 112 doubles titles, including five Wimbledon crowns with King among nine Slam wins, ranks second only to Navratilova; she also won three mixed doubles majors. Casals won the first two editions of doubles competition at the WTA Finals, with Margaret Court in 1973 and King in 1974.
Group Pam Shriver
Pam Shriver announced herself onto the world stage at the age of 16 by reaching the final of the 1978 US Open, where it took Evert to stop her. She went on to win 21 WTA singles titles and reach a career high ranking of No.3, while also building a legendary doubles career: 106 titles, including 21 Grand Slams (plus one mixed) and an Olympic gold medal with Zina Garrison at Seoul in 1988. Her formidable partnership with Navratilova led to the WTA World No.1 ranking and yielded no fewer than 79 titles, including 10 at the WTA Finals, and a calendar year Grand Slam sweep in 1984.
The 2022 WTA Finals features the top 8 singles players and doubles teams on the Race to the WTA Finals, competing in a round-robin format with the singles champion lifting the WTA Finals Billie Jean King Trophy and the doubles champions earning the WTA Finals Martina Navratilova Trophy.
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