World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty won her fourth WTA title of the season on Sunday when she became the 23rd different player to triumph at the Shiseido WTA Finals. It concluded the first of a 10-year deal struck with the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre to put on the season-ending event. Here’s a look at the past five host city championship match debuts.
Shenzhen 2019: Ashleigh Barty d. Elina Svitolina, 6-4, 6-3
Barty wiped away a 0-5 head-to-head mark against Svitolina to win the title and prevented the Ukrainian from retaining the crown. The top seed became the first Australian to win since 1976, when Evonne Goolagong Cawley claimed her second title in three years.
Singapore 2014: Serena Williams d. Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-0
The first of a five-year run in Singapore, fans were treated to what currently stands as Serena’s last appearance at the year-end championships. The world No. 1 avenged an earlier round-robin defeat to Halep to win her third successive Billie Jean King Trophy.
Istanbul 2011: Petra Kvitova d. Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
Earlier in the year, Kvitova won her first major at Wimbledon, where she also got the better of Azarenka by winning a tough three-setter in the semifinals. The Czech triumphed on her WTA Finals debut, running the table with a 5-0 record.
Doha 2008: Venus Williams d. Vera Zvonareva, 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-2
In a field that started with four Russians, and later five when Nadia Petrova stepped in as an alternate, Venus emerged victorious. The American won four matches over three sets, including against Serena, to taste victory at the tournament for the first time.
Madrid 2006: Justine Henin d. Amelie Mauresmo, 6-4, 6-3
In the first of a two-year stint at Madrid, the story was all Henin. The Belgian cemented the year-end No. 1 ranking with a semifinal win over Maria Sharapova, then avenged Australian Open and Wimbledon final defeats—plus an earlier round-robin loss—against reigning champion Mauresmo.