Tennis to land in Li Na's hometown

China's Li Na reached a career high fourth in the world rankings in June 2011.

Story highlights

  • The WTA Tour will hold a 2014 tournament in Li Na's hometown of Wuhan, China
  • Li made history by becoming Asia's first grand slam singles champion
  • The Tour continues to expand in the world's emerging markets
  • Total prize fund on the Tour, excluding grand slams, increases to $58.7m for 2013

The Chinese city of Wuhan produced Asia's first grand slam singles champion in Li Na and now the region is to be rewarded with its own WTA Tour event for 2014.

Li made history by winning the 2011 French Open, and the world No. 6's hometown fans will have the chance to see their hero up close when the premier women's tennis circuit visits Wuhan -- a city of 10 million people in western China -- in September next year.

"It's a special city for me," the 30-year-old Li told the WTA Tour's official website. "I was born there and grew up there.

"If my good friends on the Tour come to Wuhan, I will show how good the food they have is. And maybe they'll eat it first and then won't be able to move on the court!"

Read: Tennis stars feel the heat in Sydney

However, the Wuhan event is bad news for the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan, celebrating its 30th edition this year, which will exit the calendar to make room for what will be a fifth Chinese tournament in 2014.

The WTA also announced Thursday the total prize fund available on the Tour outside of the four grand slams has risen to $58.7 million in 2013 from $53.3 million in 2012.

Funny: Open Court outtakes
Funny: Open Court outtakes


    Funny: Open Court outtakes


Funny: Open Court outtakes 02:48
Clijsters reflects on career, family
Clijsters reflects on career, family


    Clijsters reflects on career, family


Clijsters reflects on career, family 03:23
Safarova: 'One of my best matches ever'
Safarova: 'One of my best matches ever'


    Safarova: 'One of my best matches ever'


Safarova: 'One of my best matches ever' 00:10
Kvitova: From underdog to world number 8
Kvitova: From underdog to world number 8


    Kvitova: From underdog to world number 8


Kvitova: From underdog to world number 8 04:31

With the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to be staged in Brazil , the South American's growing sporting prominence has been recognized with the addition of a second Brazilian tournament in Florianopolis for 2014, adding to an event which will debut in Rio de Janiero this year.

"We are excited by the growth of women's professional tennis, particularly in key markets like China and Brazil," WTA chairwoman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement highlighting the growing importance of the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).

"Development in the BRIC markets, led by China, has been a strategic priority for the past several years," added Allaster. "We look forward to continued strengthening of our global brand, developing our sport, and building our fan base worldwide."

Read: U.S. No. 1 Isner out of Australian Open

The 2013 calendar sees the circuit return to Poland -- home of world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska -- for the first time since 2010. Events in Katowice and Krakow will contribute to a total of 54 events in 33 countries in 2013.

Meanwhile back on court, Radwanska continued her preparations for next week's Australian Open by reaching the final of the Sydney International event.

In a semifinal battle between two women who had enjoyed perfect starts to 2013, Radwanska blotted Li's record with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Thursday.

Radwanska, seeded fourth for the year's first grand slam, continued a run which led her to victory at another warmup event in Auckland, New Zealand last week.

Sixth seed Li, who came into the Sydney tournament off the back of victory in Shenzhen, China, made Wimbledon runnerup Radwanska work for her triumph, saving an incredible seven match points before finally being beaten after one hour and 32 minutes.

"It was kind of like deja vu from the Auckland final -- there I think I also had seven or eight match points before I won," said the 23-year-old Radwanska after her win over an opponent who had beaten her on three occasions last year.

"My nerves were good, though," added the Pole. "I had lost a couple of times against her last year, so I just went on the court pretty relaxed. The wind was a little bit difficult, especially in the first set -- a lot of framing. But the second set went much better."

Radwanska will face the tournament's surprise package Dominika Cibulkova in the final after the Czech world No. 15 beat German second seed Angelique Kerber 6-2 4-6 6-3.

Cibulkova has also registered victories over 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani at the Sydney event.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.