Martina Navratilova demands radical change as WTA Finals descend into total farce

Aryna Sabalenka at the WTA Finals in Cancun

The WTA Final in Cancun have been close to descending into chaos all week and the event finally tipped over the edge on a shameful Saturday that did huge damage to the credibility of the biggest event on the WTA Tour.

Jessica Pegula cruised past US Open winner Coco Gauff in straight sets to book a spot in the championship match of the WTA Finals, as she beat her doubles partner 6-2 6-1.

It is still not known who will face the 29-year-old in the final, after the semi-final between world number one Aryna Sabalenka and world number two Iga Swiatek was pushed back as more heavy rains rolled in four games into their match.

The game was put on pause with Swiatek leading 2-1 and Sabalenka serving at 30-all. The duo could be seen both wrapping themselves in towels to brace against the weather as organisers waited almost two hours for the game to resume. Eventually, the game was suspended as bleak conditions prevailed.

Amid the chaos of umbrellas breaking in the strong winds and the ongoing problems of the sub-standard court in Cancun continuing to give players concerns, tennis legend Martin Navratilova has suggested this event should see the end of Steve Simon’s reign as head of the WTA.

Simon and his team decided to take their most prestigious event to Cancun at short notice, with the hasty attempts to build a court and arena to host the WTA Finals contributing to the mess that has been evident throughout the event.

Numerous players taking part have criticised the organisers and the WTA, with Simon forced to issue an apology amid an event that has damaged the credibility of the women’s game.

“It is clear you are not happy with the decision to be here in Cancún. I understand that and you have been heard,” he stated.

“It is not a perfect event, we understand the conditions are a challenge and the WTA accepts responsibility for that.”

Amazon Prime has now confirmed that Simon has rejected requests to take part in an interview to discuss the reasons why his organisation took their WTA Final to Mexico during the country’s hurricane season, with tennis icon Martina Navratilova suggesting Simon should resign for his part in the decision.

READ MORE: WTA Finals: Brilliant stats as Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula set up spicy clashes

“Maybe it’s time for a new leadership but for me personally,” she told Amazon Prime.

“Being a women’s association, I’ve been involved for such a long time from the beginning and we’ve only had three women at the head of it. I think it’s time.

“Hopefully, when we get a new leader it’s a woman first of all because there’s plenty of them that are qualified for the job. I know one particularly.

“But anyway, we’ll see what happens but it’s going to be hard I think for Steve to stay in the job somehow because things are just everything’s pointing the other way right now.”

While the prize money on offer in Cancun is huge for the eight women taking part, the state of the court and the inevitable weather interruptions at this time of the year in Mexico leave huge questions over the decision to play the event in this part of the world in November.

“I have to say that I am very disappointed with the WTA and the experience so far at the WTA Finals. As a player, I feel really disrespected by the WTA. I think most of us do,” said world No 1 Aryna Sabalenka.

“This is not the level of organisation we expect for the Finals. To be honest, I don’t feel safe moving on this court a lot of the time, the bounce is not consistent at all, and we weren’t able to practise on this court until yesterday for the first time.

“It’s just not acceptable to me with so much on the line and so much at stake.”

The calls for Simon to resign are certain to grow in the coming days, with this disastrous WTA Finals in Cancun coming the back of last year’s hastily arranged and woefully attended event in Fort Worth, Texas.

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