ABU DHABI, 8th March 2023 (WAM) — Organisers of the inaugural Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open – presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council – are determined to build a long-lasting legacy that will help inspire females to play the sport, following Belinda Bencic’s singles triumph and enhance Abu Dhabi’s position as a global sporting destination.
Throughout eight days, the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City welcomed many of the world’s top 20 players for the landmark WTA 500 event as Abu Dhabi became the newest permanent destination for the world’s professional women’s tennis tour.
Produced by IMG – a global sports, events and media company – and hosted in partnership between Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi Open showcased the very best of world-class tennis from the women’s professional stars. The tournament is now officially part of the WTA calendar – paving a way for females in the UAE to follow in the footsteps of their tennis heroes.
Today, its calendar includes more than 50 tournaments which are held on six continents and will entertain a global audience of 900 million this year.
It comes at a time where more women are playing sports with tennis being the fourth most popular worldwide in 2021 based on figures by Statista, while Naomi Osaka was the only female in Forbes’ highest-paid athletes in 2022. In contrast, Osaka and Serena Williams are in the publication’s top three highest-paid female athletes.
The organisers are eager to increase that number and allow girls to follow in the footsteps of Osaka and Williams, by aligning their efforts with the government’s long-term strategy to help create a healthy and inclusive society and encourage females to take up sport.
As part of the tournament, a strategic partnership was forged with the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy (FBMA) – an organisation that is dedicated to promoting and facilitating women’s sports in the UAE – to deliver an informative panel discussion in front of children and adults.
Held in the Fan Village, which also had a number of Q&A sessions and tennis-themed activities, former World No.1 Karolína Plíšková and singles finalist Liudmila Samsonova joined FBMA volleyball and basketball athletes – Hanan Al Bloushi and Claudine Al Zahed to highlight the importance of sport and the crucial role it can have on people’s lives.
The staging of this year’s Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open came at an important time for the Emirate, during which more local, regional and world-class international sporting competitions are being held, as well as community events such as triathlons or running events are providing more opportunities for all adults and children to get involved.
Along with the government significantly investing in infrastructure and grassroots initiatives, the event strengthens Abu Dhabi’s position as a global sporting destination. Located within eight hours’ flying time for two-thirds of the world’s population, It is perfectly situated to welcome athletes, media, federations, and spectators to the Emirate.
While it enables them to visit iconic tourism attractions and learn new cultures, it also gives them a first-hand view of why the Middle East is quickly establishing itself as a global hub for world-class sporting events.
The World No.9 Swiss had nothing but praise for the tournament, saying, “I am always a big fan of playing in new cities and environments on the WTA Tour. So when I heard that Abu Dhabi would be hosting the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, I did not hesitate to confirm my participation.
Vickie Gunnarsson, Director, IMG Tennis Events, said, “Since the WTA announced Abu Dhabi as the latest city to join its calendar, we have been working closely with our strategic partners to deliver a tournament that will benefit the youth, particularly females going forward.
She added, “We are thankful to all involved in delivering the first ever Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, and we look forward to seeing this positive growth continue in 2024.”