The event saw newly-crowned singles and doubles champions along with a new Year End World No.1 singles player and a prominent Year End No.1 doubles player.
- Launch of WTA Networks sets new records in global and digital social audiences with 247% increase in fan engagement
- One of the most tightly-contested WTA Finals thrills fans in stadium and around the world
Fans around the world were fully engaged during the eight days of world class tennis through WTAtennis.com and WTA-owned social channels. Compared to the same time last year, Facebook video views were up 571%, engagement of social posts up 247% and website referrals from social up 167%. Over the course of the event, 11 of the videos produced were ranked among the top 20 ever viewed on any WTA digital channel. Additionally, the event saw a 4% increase in global TV household reach in comparison with 2015, mainly attributed to increased exposure in Russia, Germany and Austria.
WTA Year-End No.1 Angelique Kerber led the pack joined by emerging star Garbiñe Muguruza, defending WTA Finals champion Agnieskza Radwanska, crowd favorite Simona Halep, six-time qualifier Svetlana Kuznetsova, as well as three debutants Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys and Dominika Cibulkova. The final came down to a repeat of the 2016 Singapore opening match as two first-time finalists, Kerber and Cibulkova, took to center court to battle for the title. A new champion emerged in Cibulkova who proclaimed, “I have no words, coming here for the first time, the biggest tournament of my life. It's the happiest moment of my life."
The Year-End World No. 1 doubles ranking was on the line for several players in contention. Olympic gold medalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina broke Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova’s 18-match winning streak to lift the Martina Navratilova WTA Finals Doubles Trophy and as a result, Sania Mirza finished the season as the Year-End World No. 1 doubles player. Mirza has held the No.1 ranking for 81 consecutive weeks and finished as the Year-End No.1 for the second consecutive year.
The regional outreach in Asia-Pacific was boosted by the growing interest in the WTA Future Stars, a platform that was introduced in the first edition of the WTA Finals in Singapore in 2014. In 2016, 18 countries sent their top U14 and U16 representatives to compete in the WTA Future Stars tournament with a competition field of 40 players. The Li Na Inspiration Award recognized two players for their outstanding conduct both on and off the court. Throughout the year, as part of the Junior Road to Singapore campaign, WTA Future Stars clinics were also conducted in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Philippines and Hong Kong to promote tennis to the next generation.
On the ground in the host city, presenting sponsor SC Global’s Tennis for Every Child Program continued its efforts to put more racquets in hands with 23 local schools participating and more than 12,500 students playing tennis as part of its outreach. The City Serves Up Tennis activation by the Singapore Tourism Board helped to build the excitement amongst the local community in the lead up to the WTA Finals while Sport Singapore collaborated with WTA on a charity fundraiser that featured WTA stars donating their time to raise funds for SportCares.
New initiatives were introduced this year to engage fans on site including Family Day at the Tennis which featured popular Nickelodeon characters amongst other family-friendly activities. Sponsors also leveraged developments in fan engagement technology. For example, SAP and Wilson collaborated to deliver a digital autograph activation where fans received a digital ball signed by their favorite WTA Finals player. The We Are Tennis Fan Academy’s cohort of super fans, managed by title sponsor BNP Paribas, were well represented with their enthusiastic cheers making for an electrifying atmosphere in the stadium.
Additionally, this year’s WTA Finals had its largest roster of WTA Legends in attendance to date, including newest ambassador and nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles. Seles was joined by Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Mary Pierce, Iva Majoli, and Alicia Molik along with former top 20 WTA players from Asia-Pacific Yayuk Basuki and Tamarine Tanasugarn. The nine WTA Legends conducted coaching clinics with tennis enthusiasts and spent time sharing their experiences with fans over the course of the event.
Melissa Pine, Vice-President of WTA Asia-Pacific and Tournament Director of the WTA Finals, said, “The Road to Singapore this year has been yet another exciting race to the finish line and the tennis action at the WTA Finals has truly reflected the top quality level of play amongst the greatest eight of 2016. We are thrilled with how the fans in Singapore and around the world have warmly embraced the event as well as shown their enthusiasm for women’s tennis.”
Vice President of Tennis (Asia) at event promoter Lagardère Sports, Sarah Clements, added, “The level of grassroots engagement continues to grow significantly every year, which has benefited many segments of the community, and is a strong indicator of the tournament’s impact in shaping Singapore sport. We are proud to be part of a movement that celebrates the achievements of sporting heroines, and we look forward to delivering an equally unforgettable sport entertainment experience next year.”