WTA players' thoughts on quake victims

ISTANBUL -- The elite of women's tennis awaits the start of the WTA Championships, expressing condolences for a country coping with a devastating earthquake that has left about 270 people dead.

The 7.2-magnitude quake struck Tuesday in eastern Turkey near the border with Iran, far from the tournament in Istanbul. Istanbul, the country's largest city with more than 12 million people, lies in northwest Turkey near a major fault line.

Women's Tennis Association officials briefed the eight players on the quake. The season-ending tournament runs from Tuesday to Sunday at Sinan Erdem Arena.

Second-ranked Maria Sharapova said she received many phone calls and e-mails expressing concern.

"I think it gives us an opportunity to sit down and say, 'We're very, very lucky and fortunate to be doing what we're doing,' " Sharapova said. "These things that happen around the world, you just never know where it can happen. I mean, this was only a few hours from here."

Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki arrived in Istanbul on Thursday and wanted to pass along condolences on behalf of all the players.

"All our thoughts are with everyone affected, and of course it's never nice when something like this happens," said Wozniacki, whose profile in Turkey has risen since she signed a commercial deal with a Turkish airline last year. "I definitely got a few messages yesterday and just asking if everything was OK, and if we're all OK here."

At the draw ceremony Sunday, CEO Stacey Allaster said: "We will do whatever we can to support the people of Turkey in some small way through the power of sport."

Istanbul will host the $5 million event through 2013. The tournament was held in Qatar the last three years.