The former French Open tennis champion Emily Pedersen won the first women’s pro-am in Saudi Arabia on Friday. The 28-year-old Dane won with a par 70 in the first round of the Saudi Ladies International Pro-Am tournament.
“It was a big day for us, to have the first event,” said Pedersen, who is training in Manama. “I have had a lot of people asking me about it since I was on the sand on Wednesday.
“It is always nice to see other people do things. They are way ahead of us – with the ban lifted it will give a better impression in the long run. I think the players will see a better tournament tomorrow.”
The Saudi government has hoped the tournament will raise awareness of women’s rights in the country as well as showcasing the kingdom’s new facilities. The International Women’s Tennis Federation president, Katrina Adams, attended the tournament opening ceremony and was delighted to have brought a strong presence of female players.
“All the girls from the Middle East will be watching and they will see what opportunities are there and what can be done,” she said. “It is good to start small, because at that level there are no equals. It is great to see those young girls developing for the future.”