Luxembourg Open Ends Relationship With WTA

WTA Tour

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

The celebration of Denmark’s Clara Tauson winning the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open had barely ended when tournament director Danielle Maas dropped a bombshell on social media Sunday.

Going forward, Maas indicated, the quaint indoor hard court event at Kockelscheuer Sport Centre in Kockelscheuer, south of the capital city of Luxembourg – one of the longest-standing women’s indoor tournaments on the tour – would no longer be affiliated with the WTA. Instead, the tournament will go in a different direction – back to its roots as an invitational tournament – under the guidance of the International Women’s Tennis Promotion (IWTP).

The Luxembourg Open’s origins date back to 1991, when it began as an exhibition event whose early winners included Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna. From 1995 until 2004, it became a WTA Tier III tournament, then in 2005 was promoted to Tier II, marking the first such event to be held in Luxembourg. Next, in 2008, the tournament was relegated to a Tier III event before it became an International Series tournament in 2009. This year, the tournament was designated as a WTA 250. Kim Clijsters was a five-time champion of the event between 1999 and 2005.

In Maas’s statement, which came after Tauson defeated defending champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in Sunday’s final, she accused the WTA of imposing rules that prevented the organizers from running the event in a manner which they wanted to. As she explained in an interview with German-language Luxembourgish daily newspaper Tageblatt:

“There will be something completely different next year,” Maas said. “The IWTP continues, but we will no longer organize a WTA tournament. That’s a big change. But we no longer feel comfortable working with the WTA. The quality of the tournament as we imagine it, the family aspect and everything around it is no longer given. That’s why we made the decision to quit WTA after 25 years. We are happy to now close this chapter, which we no longer enjoyed. But we already have a new project in the pipeline.”

Maas was asked during the Tageblatt interview to describe how the decision come about. She said: “It wasn’t a gut decision, we made it before the start of the tournament. It took a lot of nerve to organize this week the way the WTA wanted. Working together was very difficult. The rules of the WTA and their approach have changed a lot since 2019.

“Our tournament stands for family values, closeness to the players and we stand for a good atmosphere. We have made a name for ourselves over the last few years and have risked losing that name because of the rules that have been forced upon us. I give an example: Last Sunday we celebrated 25 years of the WTA tournament in the Philharmonie. At the gala, however, no WTA official was present to give a speech. The players have also been banned from participating. This shows that there was no longer any great enthusiasm on their part to continue working with us. But that is based on reciprocity.

“The WTA chapter now closes. For us, however, it does not close with one laughing and one crying eye, but only with one laughing eye. We’ll close this door, but we’ll open a new one next year.”

The WTA has not released any public comment in response to Maas’s statement.

The week that was for Emma Raducanu

What a difference a week made for British teenager Emma Raducanu.

After winning 10 straight matches (three in qualifying and seven in the main draw) and becoming the first qualifier to capture the US Open women’s singles title, which saw her world ranking skyrocket from No. 150 to No. 23, the 18-year-old from London snagged a last-minute invite to the prestigious Met Gala; appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America”; visited the New York Stock Exchange and appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell”; and was featured in British Vogue, in a spread of creative tennis-inspired period photos by Scott Trindle, which the WTA was quick to feature on its Instagram platform.

By Friday, Raducanu, who was back home in London, appeared on “BBC Breakfast.”

On top of all of that, Raducanu reached out to connect with Chinese fans by expanding her reach with a Weibo account. Her first video message, expressively thanking her fans was spoken in Mandarin, which Raducanu is fluent. (Born in Toronto, she’s the daughter of Chinese and Romanian immigrants.) It was viewed over 1,000,000 times in just seven hours.

“I hope you could enjoy my tennis,” Raducanu said. “I’m thrilled to win. Love you all, see you.

“It’s a pity that I can’t go to China this year but will go and play next year,” Raducanu added, regarding the canceled fall WTA Asian Swing that normally follows the US Open. The WTA Finals in Shenzhen have been temporarily relocated to Guadalajara, Mexico for this year.


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It will be interesting to see over the next few weeks and months how far Raducanu’s international marketability spreads. Some are suggesting it could rival that of Japanese superstar and four-time Grand Slam titlist Naomi Osaka, who like Raducanu was born to immigrants parents (Japanese mother, Haitian father) and settled on Long Island, N.Y., before moving to south Florida to enable Naomi’s tennis career to blossom.


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Passing shots

• In her first match reunited with childhood coach Jorge Garcia, No. 9 seed Paula Badosa advanced to the second round of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open in Ostrava, Czech Republic, with a 6-2, 6-2 win over lucky loser Varvara Gracheva. Just three weeks ago, it was Gracheva who eliminated Badosa from the US Open in the second round.

Marton Fucsovics didn’t win his first-round match against No. 5 seed Lorenzo Sonego at the Moselle Open in Metz, France, but he certainly entertained fans with his acrobatics.

Happy 40th Birthday, Feliciano Lopez

By the numbers

• When France’s Benjamin Bonzi won his third straight ATP Challenger Tour title at Rennes on Sunday, it was his sixth on the circuit this year. It joined him with Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco (1998), Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina (2001) and Facundo Bagnis of Argentina (2016) as the only players to win six titles in one season in ATP Challenger history.

• When Denmark’s 18-year-old Clara Tauson won the WTA 250 BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open title Sunday, she became the seven player to capture multiple trophies in 2021. She joined: Five-time champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia, third-time titlist Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, and two-time winners Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, Iga Swiatek of Poland, Danielle Collins of the United States and Daria Kasatkina of Russia.

Now it can be told

What they’re writing‘s David Kane recently caught up with France’s Alizé Cornet during the US Open in New York City and she talked all about ‘Transcendence,’ her new autobiography. It’s a good read.

“Quotable …”

“That hurts me a lot, of course. Of course, I knew that at some point I wouldn’t be able to be there, but I didn’t think it would be this year. It’s going to be three hardcore days of really watching tennis.”

Roger Federer, quoted by Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) on what it means to be missing this weekend’s Laver Cup, which takes place in Boston.

What they’re sharing on social media

Caroline Wozniacki / Mornings like these …