September 10, 2019 / 7:14 AM / 7 days ago

Barty first to qualify for WTA Finals in Shenzhen

FILE PHOTO: Sep 1, 2019; Flushing, NY, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia gestures against Qiang Wang of China (not pictured) in the fourth round on day seven of the 2019 US Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - World number one Ash Barty has become the first player to qualify for the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, the WTA Tour has said.

The 23-year-old, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open this year, will be making her singles debut in the Oct. 27-Nov. 3 Finals, which offer $14 million in prize money.

“It’s been a goal from the very start of the year to qualify for the WTA Finals,” Barty, Australia’s first women’s number one since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976, told the WTA website.

“I’m proud of the work my team and I have put in to get to this point, and I’m honoured to be among the top eight players of the season.”

Barty will be the first Australian to compete at the season-ending tournament since Samantha Stosur in 2012.

The top eight singles players will face off in a round-robin format with the winner taking home the Billie Jean King Trophy.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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