0 Tennis triumph for Birmingham as tournament is promoted

EdgbastonPriory4Birmingham's leading tennis tournament has received a massive boost following the announcement the AEGON Classic has been promoted to a Premier 600 event.

The Classic, which for more than 30 years has been used a pre-Wimbledon warm-up, can now expect to attract the sport's leading stars due to increased prize money.

In recent years the event had been restricted in the amount of top ten players it can call on, which meant it was viewed by top players as a less significant one than Eastbourne.

However, following a £12m redevelopment of the Edgbaston Priory club facilities the sport's global governing body, the WTA, clearly now views the Classic as one of its most prestigious events.

The change will take effect from 2014 and completes a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for a tournament that looked set to be leaving the city just a few years ago.

That was after the Lawn Tennis Association put the event out to tender in 2008, a move that threatened to end a relationship with Birmingham that began when Billie Jean King won the first one in 1982.

So onerous were the LTA's requirements that Edgbaston Priory didn't even bid to retain the Classic, a gamble that paid off massively a few months later when the LTA back-tracked and stumped up £5m worth of funding to improve the site.

That has clearly gone down well and after a series of meetings with the club and the LTA, the WTA have opted to reward Birmingham with a more attractive tournament in which the prize pot goes up from $250,000 to $600,000 and perhaps more importantly with more ranking points.

See the rest of the artixle on the following link:- Birmingham Mail

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