Might the WTA Finals’ setting cast a pall over the profound symbolism of the most lucrative event in the sport’s history?As Hong Kong marched for an 11th consecutive week in August, 20 miles away a drone floated noiselessly over the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre. It captured coordinated teams of men running across the lush grass-painted lines of a football pitch, but there were no footballs in sight. Instead, dozens of paramilitary vehicles from China’s People’s Armed Police paraded the streets of Shenzhen and settled in the arena. Satellite pictures showed more than 100 sitting tidily around the perimeter of the pitch. The military exercises were widely perceived to be an intimidation tactic, to show what China could do in Hong Kong if it really wanted to. Sports and politics were in perfect harmony.
There will be none of those vehicles on show at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre. Instead, the eight best women’s tennis players and doubles teams in the world have descended on the complex as the WTA Finals comes to Shenzhen for the first time.