LINZ, November 1, 2023 (Press Release)
Great news for Austria’s tennis scene as the Women’s Tennis Association has upgraded the Upper Austria Ladies Linz from a WTA 250 event to a WTA 500 tournament. For the first time in the new category, the most important women’s sports event in Austria will be held in the Design Center Linz from 28 January to 4 February – a week earlier than this year.The upgrade to the second highest category was made possible by a reform of the WTA calendar. Known for its homely, friendly atmosphere, the world’s second oldest women’s indoor tournament in the beautiful region of Upper Austria, has now joined an illustrious circle of events. The WTA stars will be competing for a total prize money of just under one million dollars in Linz – previously 250,000. “The Upper Austria Ladies Linz has been a long-standing tournament on the Hologic WTA Tour for over 30 years and we are delighted to see that in 2024 it will become a WTA 500 event,” says WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon. “Sandra and Peter-Michael Reichel along with the rest of the organizing team have developed this tournament into a world class experience for WTA players, sponsors and tennis fans, and next season will showcase this even further as it begins its exciting new chapter as WTA 500.” Simon visited the Upper Austria Ladies Linz in 2017 and the WTA President Micky Lawler was welcomed as an honorary guest in 2023. “For me, this is a dream come true,” says Sandra Reichel, who is heading into her 24th year as a tournament director. “The fact that we received an upgrade from the WTA is certainly down to the good work we have done here over the past decades,” she emphasized, before continuing, “The Upper Austria Ladies Linz is now in the same category as the men’s ATP tournament in Vienna. This means that equality has been achieved between the two major tennis tournaments in Austria. I see this as a signal for women’s sports in Austria.”
Her father Peter-Michael Reichel, the founder of the tournament in 1991 and long-time WTA Board of Directors member, is also delighted with the upgrade: “The change in the WTA tournament calendar, combined with the award of new licenses, is tantamount to an event of the century. The new tournament schedule will be in place for a long time, which means that the current categorisation can be seen as a unique opportunity for the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.”Having hosted 19 of the 29 world No. 1s including Serena and Venus Williams and boasting a roll of honour that includes greats like current No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka, US Open champion Coco Gauff, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Angelique Kerber, Ana Ivanovic, Jana Novotna, Mary Pierce, Amélie Mauresmo and Victoria Azarenka, the event now has the chance of welcoming an unlimited number of world class players in any one year. Instead of a maximum of only one Top 10 player, tennis fans can look forward to a star-studded line-up.
In Tournament Ambassador Barbara Schett’s mind, the upgrade comes just at the right time: “The new stars play highly attractive tennis with a lot of variety and are full of emotion. Good examples are two former Linz winners in US-American Coco Gauff, who was only a 15 when she won in 2019, and Aryna Sabalenka who joined her on the roll of honour a year later,” says the former World No. 7. Wider TV audience
The picturesque city close to the German and Czech borders will also in future be transported to a far wider audience. Instead of being televised in 102 countries, it will now be shown in 149 amounting to a 54 per cent increase. Side events in keeping with the 4-pillar strategy Now a WTA 500 event, the Upper Austria Ladies Linz will continue and further develop the 4-pillar strategy that was so successful last year. This includes events promoting women, inclusion, young talent and sustainability. The future therefore looks rosy for the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, something underlined by many dignitaries and stakeholders: State Governor, Thomas Stelzer: More than a tennis tournament: the Upper Austria Ladies Linz excels on and off court “The Upper Austria Ladies Linz is more than just a tennis tournament. Sandra Reichel’s team impressively proved that last year at the tournament comeback at the Design Center. The tennis week in the state capital, which is now of even more importance thanks to its upgrade to a WTA 500, serves as a role model in many respects. In addition to top-class tennis, the Women’s Sports Symposium, for example, puts women’s sports in general in the spotlight. With its orientation as a green event, the inclusion of wheelchair athletes, initiatives for more women’s health, and the 1,000 rackets for 1,000 girls campaign with the aim of showing children the joy of tennis and exercise, it is evident that the organizers are assuming social responsibility and leading the way as pioneers in many areas. In 2024, the Upper Austria Ladies Linz will once again send out a clearly visible message from Upper Austria to the international sports world,” says State Governor Thomas Stelzer who is already looking forward to the 33rd edition of the tournament. State Minister of Economic Affairs and Sport, Markus Achleitner:
Flagship event with even greater magnetism for women’s sport as well as Upper Austria as a sporting, touristic and commercial location “The return to the Design Center this year in February also gave the Upper Austria Ladies a fantastic upgrade. Sandra Reichel and her team make a special tennis festival possible Upper Austria, a sporting hotspot. Its upgrade to a WTA 500 means Austria’s most important women’s sports event is moving into the international spotlight more than ever before in its 33-year success story. This development is in line with our Upper Austrian sports strategy, which, in addition to establishing a top infrastructure for our athletes, also aims to host top international sports events, “ says the State Minister of Economic Affairs and Sport Markus Achleitner. Lord Mayor, Klaus Luger: Ladies tennis tournament in Linz to the fore “By being upgraded to a WTA 500, the long-standing women’s tournament in Linz has played its way into the top circle of worldwide events. For more than 30 years, the Upper Austria Ladies Linz has been an indispensable flagship for Linz as a sports city and a major commercial centre. The upgrade puts Linz’s economic and sports standing in a more prominent light on the international stage. Personally, I’m extremely pleased with the success story that the tournament has written in recent years, and I congratulate Sandra Reichel and her team wholeheartedly,” says Linz’s Lord Mayor Klaus Luger. Deputy Lord Mayor, Karin Hörzing: An extra special spectacle thanks to fantastic teamwork “The upgrade to a WTA 500 is a highlighter for the sports city of Linz and should be seen in particular as a tribute to the ongoing efforts of Tournament Director Sandra Reichel. My sincere thanks go to the many people involved, especially the Upper Austria Ladies Linz team and the numerous sponsors who will make the WTA tournament in Linz a first-class spectacle,” says Deputy Lord Mayor Karin Hörzing. Gift vouchers available now Tickets for the 33rd Upper Austria Ladies Linz will be available from mid-November via the tournament’s homepage www.ladieslinz.at, at all Ö-Ticket ticket offices and via the ticket hotline +43 900 94 96 096. Gift vouchers with various motifs are available immediately at www.ladieslinz.at. There are also particularly interesting package offers for the upcoming tournament, which can also be found at www.ladieslinz.at.