Chennai Open WTA 250: TNTA looks forward to Sania’s entry

At the start of the year, the 35-year-old Sania had announced that the 2022 season would be her swansong. Talking about the doubles specialist at a press conference which he virtually attended from London, Amritraj said that the organisers would pull out all the stops to make the tournament one to remember for Sania, if she confirms her involvement.
A Chennai Open WTA 250 press conference was held in Chennai on Thursday
A Chennai Open WTA 250 press conference was held in Chennai on Thursday Photo: Justin George

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Tennis Association (TNTA) president Vijay Amritraj on Thursday guaranteed that a red carpet would be rolled out for veteran Sania Mirza at the Chennai Open WTA 250, if the soon-to-be retiree decides to compete in the inaugural edition that will be hosted at the SDAT Stadium here from September 12 to 18.

At the start of the year, the 35-year-old Sania had announced that the 2022 season would be her swansong. Talking about the doubles specialist at a press conference which he virtually attended from London, Amritraj said that the organisers would pull out all the stops to make the tournament one to remember for Sania, if she confirms her involvement.

“Certainly, we look forward to her participation. Hopefully, she will be in our event. Hopefully, she remains on schedule and remains free of injury. A decision regarding her participation can be made only three or four weeks prior to the event,” said Amritraj, who is on duty at the ongoing Wimbledon Championships.

“Once those things are confirmed, we will have an internal discussion on what best can be done to look after her. I would not call it a ‘farewell’ before someone really says that they want to hang up the racquet. If it is going to be a goodbye, we will certainly make it very, very special for her,” added the legendary Amritraj.

‘A few factors will determine participants’

The $250,000 event, India’s first-ever WTA 250 tournament, will comprise both singles and doubles. Asked if one can expect the cream of the crop to make their way to Chennai, Amritraj responded: “There is always a possibility [of top-10 players participating]. A lot will depend on how the variety of players perform in the summer season leading up to the US Open and who play the most matches.

“We cannot expect someone like [World No.1] Iga Swiatek to play here, for the simple reason that she has had a remarkable first six months of the year. The participation depends entirely on who decide to play in the Asian swing (there are WTA 250 events in Osaka, Japan, and Seoul, Korea, as well in September).”

Amritraj also said that he hopes to make Chennai Open WTA 250 an annual affair. “An event of this nature will happen in Chennai for the first time. We will see how year one goes. The APG Group (based in Hong Kong) is the license holder for this event. Ourselves (the TNTA) and the APG Group will look at how year one goes, and then take a call on the future. The possibility of continuing this event is very strong,” Amritraj went on to add.

Besides Amritraj, Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Siva V Meyyanathan, who joined digitally, Department of Youth Affairs and Sports Development principal secretary Apoorva, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu member secretary KP Karthikeyan and TNTA secretary Premkumar Karra attended the presser.

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