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By Erik Gudris
(October 28, 2012) -- WTA CEO Stacey Allaster hosted a "State of the WTA" presentation just before the start of the finals of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships held this week in Istanbul, Turkey. 
Allaster began by praising the Istanbul fans for their continuing support of the event's three-year stay in Turkey's largest city that has seen record turnouts for a second year. Allastar then commented on the fact that ten players, including alternates, in the singles event represented ten different countries, a first for the event.
Four cities among 43 interested sites were announced as the finalists for the opportunity to host the year-end finals after the event concludes its stay at Istanbul next year. They include Kazan, Russia; Mexico City, Mexico; Singapore; and Tianjin, China. A final decision will be announced early in spring 2013.
“The WTA Championships is today recognized as one of a handful of truly blue chip international events, currently delivering over $140 million of economic and media value to the host city,” said Allaster, “Our plans for developing additional interactive events including a three-day fan festival will ensure the benefits to our next host city partner are even greater. We were delighted with the 43 initial expressions of interest we received and in finalizing our candidate cities, we now believe we have an outstanding shortlist from which we will find the next host for the world’s premier sporting event for women.”
One significant format change that will occur in 2014 will be the expansion of the doubles event that will include the top eight teams who qualify for the season ending championships.
Allaster announced that the tour has renewed its sponsorship partnerships with Oriflame cosmetics and Dubai Duty Free. But the presentation also confirmed the ending of several long-term deals including with tour sponsor Sony Ericsson and media partner Eurosport television.
Taking the place of Eurosport will be a new four-year deal with Perform that will provide multiple platforms for fans to watch WTA matches starting in 2013. Part of the new deal will allow several Premier tournaments to have coverage of matches on two courts. is also expected to have increased on-court and off-court coverage.
Allaster finally emphasized the increased focus on China and Asia to help expand exposure and interest in the tour including the new WTA 125 events starting next week in Taipei.
“A trip to the WTA Championships, and the right to battle for such a prestigious title and possibly the world No. 1 ranking is the goal of every single player,” said four-time Grand Slam Champion Maria Sharapova. “Having only the best of the best together always makes for an incredibly exciting finale to each WTA season.  And having the chance to bring our best event to new cities is always exciting for the players and fans.”