In the ongoing discussions about the potential relocation of the WTA Finals to Saudi Arabia, certain obstacles have emerged. On the latest episode of Served, Andy Roddick and Jon Wertheim highlighted these challenges using Daria Kasatkina as a case in point.
Having publicly come out as gay last year, Kasatkina’s safety is a matter of concern given Saudi Arabia’s laws against homosexuality. This raises questions about the Russian player’s well-being if she were to qualify for the WTA Finals, a plausible scenario considering her prominent standing in the sport.
The issue extends beyond her potential participation in the finals; it also impacts her ability to return to Russia. Roddick and Wertheim emphasized that the WTA should establish specific conditions with Saudi Arabia to ensure the safety of players before considering the relocation.
Andy Roddick & Jon Wertheim believe WTA needs to lay out conditions for Saudi Arabia before they commit to them in order to protect the players, ‘𝙆𝙖𝙨𝙖𝙩𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙡𝙖𝙨𝙩 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧. 𝙄𝙛 𝙨𝙝𝙚 𝙜𝙤𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮, 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙬𝙚 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩… pic.twitter.com/ouZnti9kRH— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) February 6, 2024
“The devil is in the details. Homosexuality is illegal. But we have openly gay players. Kasatkina came out last year. If she goes there to play, are we just telling her to take a week off of her sexuality? ” said Roddick.
“How do we protect our own players who’s life choices are viewed as criminal when they enter this place? How do we protect those mechanisms? And can whatever is said now be trusted when it’s in practice?” Andy continued.
“So what if we said ‘We’re really thrilled & flattered by your interest. Here’s what we need to see before we move our tour there. We have openly gay players. It’s not only awkward, it’s really problematic & disturbing that homosexuality has not been decriminalized,” said Wertheim in response.
” It’s like any business with KPI, right? Here are the thresholds we need to see. Hit these & were good to go. I think tennis has more leverage here than it gives itself credit for. Maybe the WTA needs to say, ‘Listen, before we can commit, we need to see XYZ.’ If the Saudis say they’ll go find another sport, then so be it.”
“Again, the devil is in the details. Can tennis say to the Saudis ‘We’d love to have a partnership, there’s a lot of potential? We could use your cash infusion. But we need to see a certain number of conditions met before we sign on the dotted line here.’”