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Shenzhen to host WTA Finals until 2028  

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Melbourne (AFP)

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen will host the season-ending WTA Finals from 2019 for a decade with record prize money of $14 million, it was announced Thursday.

The elite tournament, which sees the top eight female players battle it out for the Billie Jean King trophy, has previously been held in Singapore, which took over from Istanbul.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce that the dynamic city of Shenzhen has been chosen to host the WTA Finals, the WTA's crown jewel season finale, for the next decade," said WTA chief Steve Simon.

"This will easily be the largest and most significant WTA Finals deal in the 45 years since the WTA was founded and promises to take the event to a spectacular new level."

Simon said in 2016 that the body was searching for a permanent base for the event, with bids reportedly received from Singapore, Manchester, Prague, St Petersburg and Shenzhen.

China already hosts a number of top-level tour tournaments and has several purpose-built facilities.

They include a new tennis centre with a 5,000-seat centre court in the southern city of Zhuhai, while in Wuhan there is a main stadium for 15,000 spectators, similar to Wimbledon.

The winning bid was submitted by Gemdale Corporation, one of China's largest property developers, and will include building a state-of-the-art venue in the city's downtown area, with seating for 12,000 people.

Prize money will double from the current $7 million.

"Shenzhen is an exciting, fast-evolving metropolis and staging the WTA Finals there will ensure the WTA's global fan base goes from strength to strength," said WTA President Micky Lawler in explaining the choice.

Billie Jean King, founder of the WTA, said it was "absolutely incredible" to witness the growth of the season-ending event.

"Shenzhen will be a fantastic home for the WTA Finals," she added.

"The record setting $14 million purse set for Shenzhen reflects the global strength of our sport and how Shenzhen and China have embraced women?s tennis."

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