Melissa Pine: Singapore's grand tennis legacy
Next host of the WTA Finals will be handed a more valuable event because of Singapore's efforts
Singapore is a world-class city and has been a wonderful host of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals presented by SC Global for the past four years.
Not only has Singapore been the first city in the Asia-Pacific region to host the WTA Finals, the crown jewel of the WTA has expanded its format to a sports-entertainment spectacle here, breaking records and bringing the past, present and future of women's tennis together.
Some of the most iconic names in the women's game have come to town each year, inspiring fans and the young boys and girls of the next generation through community engagement programmes and initiatives like the WTA Future Stars.
In its fifth edition, fans can expect to be energised by celebrations befitting of a grand finale at the Singapore Sports Hub.
I am confident that the energy in the Singapore Indoor Stadium will be electric as we look to crown the final champion of the WTA Finals Singapore.
Reigning champion and newly minted Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki currently leads the Porsche Race to Singapore heading into the clay-court swing.
Some new faces have made their way up the leaderboard, adding to the excitement and anticipation of who will make it to Singapore for the Finals.
Living up to her WTA Rising Stars title which she won here in 2015, Naomi Osaka captured her first WTA title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, and moved into eighth place on the leaderboard.
Singapore has clearly demonstrated that it is a truly progressive city that fully embraces sport, has the professional expertise to showcase a world-class event at the highest level, and displays passion and purpose behind every initiative.
Last year, a record was set as the event welcomed 133,000 fans, the largest attendance over the four years here.
Globally, fan engagement through social media during the WTA Finals period reached a new high, with total social video views growing from 22.9 million in 2016 to 27.8 million last year.
With Singapore as the gateway to the Asia-Pacific, the future is bright for women's tennis.
MORE VALUABLE POSITION
As the event transitions to a new host city, the WTA Finals will be handed over in a much more valuable position than it was five years ago, to say the least.
Singapore should be very proud of its contribution to growing the popularity of women's tennis in Asia, where the WTA Finals will remain for the next 10 years in Shenzhen, China.
For the past decade, China has embraced women's tennis through major events like the China Open, and Shenzhen, in particular, is where the WTA season has been kickstarted for the last five years.
From plans to develop a strong infrastructure to the record-setting US$14 million (S$18.4m) prize purse for the WTA Finals, the innovative and vibrant city of Shenzhen has shown its commitment to building on the solid base that Singapore has laid for women's tennis in Asia.
For the final edition of the WTA Finals in Singapore, the WTA and our partners Lagardere Sport, the Singapore Tourism Board and Sport Singapore are striving to create a memorable experience to celebrate all that has been achieved through the contributions of the local community and the enthusiasm of local fans.
What is also important is that the legacy that has been built needs to be acknowledged and developed for future generations to benefit.
Singapore is forever etched in WTA history and will always be a valued member of the WTA family.
It will be a very special moment when the Billie Jean King trophy is hoisted for the final time in Singapore this October.
I look forward to sharing this monumental memory with you all at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and I am sure that I will not be the only one with goosebumps.
Melissa Pine is the vice-president of WTA Asia-Pacific and the tournament director of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. She is also a former NCAA player at Washington State University and served as assistant coach of the team post-graduation. To find out more about the WTA Finals, visit www.wtafinals.com