WTA to Move Championships Back to U.S

MIAMI (Reuters) – After one year in Munich the WTA’s season-ending championships will return to the United States after the sport’s governing body voted on Friday to move the event to Los Angeles.

The WTA is expected to announce at a press conference on Saturday that this year’s event will be staged at the Staples Centre, home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, following an unsuccessful foray into Europe.

The vote, held at a Miami hotel, required a majority of the 10 member board.

“I can’t tell you the dates but it the championships will be held in Los Angeles and most likely the Staples Centre,” said WTA communications director Jim Fuhse.

The switch to Munich from New York’s Madison Square Gardens, which had been home to the championships since they began in 1972, was a dismal failure the showcase event attracting little interest and disappointing attendance.

The Championships were hurt by the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and the absence of several star players to injury, including Venus Williams and Martina Hingis.

Monica Seles also refused to take part in the event, standing by her vow to never again play in Germany after being stabbed in the back during a changeover at a tournament in Hamburg by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf.

Adding to an anti-climatic finish to the season, Serena Williams won the title with a walkover after Lindsay Davenport pulled out with an injury.

The Championships had been rumored heading back to U.S. for sometime with the WTA looking capitalize on the sport’s popularity in the United States.

Most of the current crop of top women’s players, Venus and Serena Williams, Australian Open champion Jennifer Capriati, Davenport and Monica Seles are American while many others such as Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova live or have homes in the United States.