Rivaling Wimbledon

China is building a $161 million tennis stadium in Wuhan Province intended to “rival Wimbledon’s Center Court.” 

Photo: AP Photo / Christophe Ena
Serena Williams of the U.S. returns in her semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France, 

The venue will have more seats than the venues for the Australian and French Opens, though not quite as many as Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 23,000-seat home of the U.S. Open, according to The Philippine Star and Bloomberg.

Officials of the Chinese city say they intend to turn Wuhan into a “city of tennis” by providing a stadium with a retractable roof and tripling the capacity of the city’s current stadium.

They will also install corporate suites and other facilities to make it multi-purpose and amenable for concerts and other sports events, including basketball and soccer.

The stadium will take advantage of Wuhan’s most famous product, tennis star Li Na, the first Chinese Grand Slam singles champion in history and, at the moment, the most successful tennis player to come out of Asia. Much to the city fathers’ disappointment, Li Na announced her retirement last year a week before the inaugural edition of the Wuhan Open took place, but she is expected to show up for the opening of the new stadium this September.