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Navratilova and Evert's comments about Saudi Arabia 'outdated stereotypes'

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States was disappointed to hear Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert's concerns around hosting the WTA Finals in Riyadh.

It has been suggested Saudi Arabia - which continues to come under the spotlight for human rights violations - could be in line to stage the WTA's showpiece event, which were held in Cancun in Mexico last year.

In a comment piece for the Washington Post, Navratilova and Evert said taking the WTA's season-ending tournament to Saudi Arabia would be a "significant step backward to the detriment not just of women's sport, but women".

In a lengthy response posted on social media, Saudi ambassador to the United States, Her Royal Highness Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud, insisted those comments were ill advised and "denigrates" the "remarkable journey of women" in her country.

"As a woman who has dedicated her life to the cause of women, it pained me deeply to read a column in The Washington Post objecting to Saudi Arabia hosting the Women's Tennis Association Finals based on arguments that are outdated stereotypes and western-centric views of our culture," said Al-Saud, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

"Failing to acknowledge the great progress women have made in Saudi Arabia denigrates our remarkable journey. Like many women around the world, we looked to the legends of tennis as trailblazers and role models - glimmers of hope that women truly could achieve it all.

"But these champions have turned their back on the very same women they have inspired and it's beyond disappointing."

Addressing comments that women in Saudi Arabia are 'essentially property of men', Al-Saud responded the pair needed to "get your facts straight". She added: "Women do not need the approval of a guardian to travel, work or be the head of their household. Saudi women are in charge of their personal and financial future."

Al-Saud insists there has been progress on equality in the Gulf kingdom, but acknowledged "there's still work to be done".

"We are investing and committing to sport as part of a comprehensive programme to be the best version of ourselves. It is not about you. It is about us," she said.

"To those who seek to deny our women the same opportunities of others, what I hear clearly is that there is no seat for us at their table, but I will welcome them at mine - because my table isn't limited by political views, borders, race or geography.

"And I hope that they accept my invitation to sit at my table and meet the women that they may not have intended to inspire, but their hard work nonetheless has.

"I hear you. You didn't fight for us. But as we continue to work to fulfil our dreams, we will look back at your journey and will carry your wins with us."

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