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Wuhan starts construction of tennis center

By Liu Kun and Gu Yi in Wuhan | | Updated: 2013-07-18 21:21

Construction of the Wuhan Optical Valley International Tennis Center, the venue for the 2014 WTA tennis tournament, started on Wednesday.

Wuhan residents will be able to watch local tennis hero Li Na on home soil, as the Wuhan Open, a WTA Premier Five tournament, will be held from 2014 in the capital of Hubei province.

The first phase of the tennis center is expected to cover approximately 136,000 square meters.

The main stadium will have 15,000 seats and a smaller stadium will be able to accommodate 5,000 people. It will also have six standard hard courts.

In December 2012, the WTA formally approved Wuhan as the host of the tournament from 2014 to 2028, replacing Tokyo, which has hosted the event for 30 years.

The Premier Five tournaments is one of the world's top tennis tournaments hosted by the WTA, with a total purse of $200 million.

At least seven of the world's top 10 women's tennis players will attend this tournament.

Peter Johnston, president of WTA Asia-Pacific Region, said, “Wuhan has very nice tennis tradition and I believe that the Wuhan Open will be another important international tennis match.”

On the 2014 calendar, the Wuhan Open will be the fourth tournament.

China currently hosts the China Open, previously known as the Beijing Salem Open, the Guangzhou International Women's Open, and the Shenzhen Longgang Gemdale Open.

Li Na, a Wuhan native, became the French Open women's singles champion in 2011 and the first Asian to win the four Grand Slam tennis singles championships.

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