The Mumbai Open, the only Women’s Tennis Association tournament currently in India, will not be held this year due to the upcoming Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Elections as well as financial constraints.
The 125K Series, officially titled L&T Mumbai Open, was organised by the Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association at the Cricket Club of India courts in October-November in 2017 and 2018. But the third edition will not be held in 2019.
“With the elections happening around the time, it will be difficult to hold the tournament in Mumbai,” MSLTA secretary general Sunder Iyer told Scroll.in. The state elections are set to be held around October this year.
Amruta Fadnavis, the wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, has been the Chairperson of the Organising Committee since the start of the event.
The organisers have written to the WTA with an option to reschedule the tournament early next year and have received what seems to be a favourable response. “It is not a yes or no as of now but they have replied saying the tournament will be held in India when there is a slot early next year. Things will be more settled then.
If we can’t host it then worst case, we will skip it for a year but we are looking to host the tournament again. It is an important tournament for India” Iyer added.
The other factor that played in the changing of date is the financial aspect with not many sponsors ready to invest a substantial amount.
“With the market the way it is, it is getting to raise the required funds for even smaller local tournaments. It would be almost impossible to get the same kind of funds we had raised in the last two years to host this edition,” Iyer explained.
The tournament had enjoyed a good run over the last two years as a platform for young Indian players as well as featured some top players. Current world No 9 Aryna Sabalenka had won the inaugural edition, which was her first WTA trophy at any level. Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum was the defending champion. Wimbledon 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki, Saisai Zheng, Laura Robson, Yanina Wickmayer, Olga Danilovic were among the other high-profile players to take part in the event.
When the Mumbai Open began in 2017, it was first WTA tournament to be held in India in five years and was praised by the country’s top-ranked players such as Ankita Raina and Karman Kaur Thandi for the opportunity it provided. Raina, India’s women’s singles No 1, had singled the Mumbai Open 2017 as a turning point for her as she went on to play Grand Slam qualifiers and win an Asian Games medal in 2018.
Last year, the winner of the event got US$ 20,000 and 160 WTA points while the finalist got US$ 11,000 and 95 points.
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