WIMBLEDON, England -- The season-ending WTA championships will move to Qatar in a three-year, $42 million deal starting in 2008, then go to Istanbul from 2011-13.
The prize money for the tournament in Qatar will be $4.5 million, up from the $3 million offered for this year's event in Madrid, Spain, WTA chief executive Larry Scott said Friday. The difference will be funded by the Qatar government.
Scott said one of the main reasons for moving the tournament from Los Angeles back to Europe last year was because of the time difference and television contracts.
"That's where our players are based right now, that's where our biggest audiences are right now, that's where our biggest financial commitments are coming from," Scott said.
The championships started in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1972 and were played in Los Angeles from 1974-76. New York then hosted the event for 22 years before it was staged Munich, Germany, in 2001. Los Angeles again hosted the event until 2005.
"I was a little bit surprised about the choices, but it's good," top-ranked Justine Henin said after winning her third-round match at Wimbledon.
Starting in 2009, the championships will move from November to October, increasing the offseason by two weeks.
"It's been such a high priority for our athletes to get a longer offseason," Scott said. "We were faced with a choice of priorities. That was an easy call for us."
Defending Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo was glad to have an extra break.
"A lot of tournaments are complaining about players pulling out of their tournaments," Mauresmo said. "Especially in the second part of the season. We've all said for a long time that maybe the reason is because we play too much."
Scott said the July tournament in San Diego will be scrapped from next year. It will be replaced with a tournament in Cincinnati in 2009, to played along with the ATP Masters Series event in August.
"This represents the future direction and strategy of the tour, to play in very big venues, and where it makes sense, combined or back-to-back tournaments with the men," Scott said.
The women's tour will also introduce no-advantage scoring and a match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set in doubles, coming in line with the men's tour, to all tournaments starting from after Wimbledon.
"You're probably going to see more top singles players play the doubles in the future," Mauresmo said.