(Strasbourg) The Strasbourg women’s clay tennis tournament, which has so far been in the WTA 250, will move to the upper category of the WTA 500 in 2024 by merging with that of Lyon, its organizers announced on Tuesday.
“Strasbourg has been received (by the WTA, the association that manages the women’s professional circuit, editor’s note) in its application and will become a WTA 500”, announced during a press conference Denis Naegelen, director of this tournament created in 1987 and whose last edition was won by the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.
“We are the first (500 in France), men or women” and “we will become the third event in France in tennis after Roland-Garros and the Rolex Paris Masters”, he still congratulated himself.
In addition to the soundness of the organization of the Alsatian tournament, which takes place the week before Roland-Garros, one of the key elements of the success of the Internationaux de Strasbourg (IS) has obviously been the decision to present a unique file with the tournament of Lyon, another WTA 250 a time candidate for promotion in 500 which will therefore disappear after four editions.
“We had the opportunity to do it each on our own, but it’s true that, after reflection […] it was very natural that we got closer” and “associated” to submit a single application, said during a videoconference intervention its director, Gaëtan Muller.
“We realized that if we wanted to turn a corner, we had to find a common place” and “it is natural that Strasbourg, through its infrastructures” and “its supports” imposed itself, he said. added.
“Tennis in Lyon is highly appreciated […] and already, with the communities, with the partners, we are thinking about perhaps another format, on a notch below. I think the future of women’s tennis in Lyon is not completely closed,” Muller said.
According to the regional daily Le Progrès, Mr. Muller bought the shares of the French player Caroline Garcia, at the origin of the Lyon tournament, and also becomes a co-shareholder of the IS.
From a sporting point of view, Strasbourg’s move to the WTA 500 means that it will award 500 points to the winner, i.e. twice as many as before, and will also be endowed with more prizes, two elements likely to boost its attractiveness, with a higher player field.
“We are going to distribute four times more (gains) since we are going to go from a” prize money “of 250,000 dollars to almost a million dollars from next year”, thus specified Jérôme Fechter, co-director of IS.
MM. Naegelen and Fechter also said they are part of the parity objectives of the WTA, which on Tuesday announced measures over the next 10 years to restructure the tournament calendar and align prize pools between men and women.
The move to the WTA 500 will “also be an opportunity to rethink the site” of six hectares which houses the IS near the European institutions and which does not yet have a hard stadium, the tournament said in a press release.
The Strasbourg tournament takes place at the end of May, just before Roland-Garros.