The WTA has been in hot water of late for a number of reasons, including its poor scheduling, which apparently does not take into account top players’ health and well-being, and it seems that its just published proposed 2024 Calendar is not going to help assuage these on-going concerns.
At the heart of everything the WTA does is producing the highest-quality product and experience, and the strengthened future calendars will have a positive impact for our players, tournaments, fans and partners. Equality, including equal compensation, is a fundamental principle of the WTA and it is crucial to attain this level. We appreciate the support from our tournaments in securing this top priority. Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO
Admittedly, next year is complicated by the inclusion of the Olympic Games in Paris from 27 July to 4 August, which is 3 weeks after Wimbledon, but the WTA has elected to continue with its usual north American swing by scheduling Washington, a 500 event, against it.
The Olympic women’s singles final is scheduled for Saturday 3 August, and is followed hot foot by the Canadian Open, a 1000 event, which begins on Monday 5 August.
Then, the Cincinnati Open, another 1000 event, is set to begin the following week, from 13-19 August, leading into the US Open, which will be held just a week later, from 26 August to 8 September.
Once again, the WTA Finals is due to take place from Monday 4 November, but who knows where, with its final on Sunday 10th, while the Billie Jean King Cup Finals start on the 11th at a venue yet to be announced.
Several fans took to X (formerly Twitter) following the release of the 2024 calendar, venting on the quick turn-around after each tournament, particularly the segments after Wimbledon.
“This is literally insane the players are going to be GASSED. Factor in 4 slams, Olympics, 500s, BJK Cup and WTA Finals and that’s just… too much,” said one concerned fan.
“There is literally no time for the girls to rush from Paris to Toronto where they have Olympics my goodness,” commented another fan.
“They’ve scheduled a 500 and 1000 event during the Olympics lmao,” another fan said.
“The schedule is so packed wtf,” said another fan.
The WTA announcement on Tuesday read: “An exciting new strategy that will create a solidified pathway toward equal prize money and a revised Hologic WTA Tour calendar, providing sustainable long-term growth for women’s tennis.
“These key changes will support the growth of the sport and enhance the overall experience for the WTA’s global fanbase and key stakeholders within the game.
“The revised calendar structure will raise the excitement and level of competition at all Hologic WTA Tour events to new highs featuring:
- A tour that showcases the top players consistently playing the top events, while providing a structure for player mobility and growth opportunities
- A tour with a strong narrative throughout the year, delivering top matches and rivalries, telling the story of our athletes’ journeys to the global fan base
- A tour that facilitates the acceleration of WTA commercial growth and provides a sustainable economic model for tournaments and players
“One of the main pillars of the strategy includes creating a pathway toward equal prize money, a goal envisioned 50 years ago when Billie Jean King founded the WTA.
“This increase will happen over time, to ensure the changes are sustainable for players and tournaments in the long term, with WTA 1000 and 500 combined events attaining equal prize money by 2027 and single-week WTA 1000 and 500 events by 2033.”
Billie Jean King said: “Fifty years after the players found strength in unity, I’m proud the WTA continues to be a global leader focused on providing opportunities, and hope that women in other sports and walks of life are inspired by its example.”
Sloane Stephens, WTA Player and Players’ Council Member, added: “Every generation contributes to preserving the future of their sport, striving to leave it in a better state for the next. I take pride in being a part of this evolution and fully support the WTA’s commitment to progress.”
The WTA statement continues: “The revised WTA calendar will feature a strengthening of the top-tier WTA events with a focus on delivering the best talent each week in a consistent and clear manner, making it easier for the fans to follow.
“The WTA 1000 level tournaments (increasing to a total of 10) include several transitioning to two weeks in length and, with that, larger draw sizes: Rome (2023), Madrid and Beijing (2024) and Cincinnati and Toronto/Montreal (2025), in addition to the existing Indian Wells and Miami competitions.
“The additional WTA 1000 events will be one-week events in Doha, Dubai and a yet-to-be-named event.
“New player entry rules will ensure a consistent presence of the top athletes at these premium events throughout the year. The increase in two-week WTA 1000 tournaments combined with the ATP demonstrates a clearer alignment across both tours.
“This new strategy also looks to enhance WTA 500 events and build their value, achieved through several strategic additions and less overlap across the calendar, along with new entry rules to boost the quality of the player fields.
“In the updated calendar, the number of WTA 500 tournaments will see an increase to 17 — Abu Dhabi, Adelaide, Berlin, Brisbane, Charleston, Eastbourne, Monterrey, San Diego, Seoul, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Tokyo, United Cup, Washington, Zhengzhou and two yet-to-be-named events.
“At the WTA 250 level, tournaments will have a stronger regional focus to create a more sustainable and viable business model that will help foster the next generation of stars.”
WTA Players’ Council member Donna Vekic said. “This game-changing moment for the Hologic WTA Tour will align both tournament and player interests and help current and future generations of female tennis players.
“We are incredibly proud to be part of these developments and the legacy it will have on equal prize money.”
Bob Moran, President of Beemok Sports & Entertainment and Tournament Director of the Credit One Charleston Open noted: “On behalf of the tournaments, we are proud and committed to make equal prize money a reality. This investment is critical in finally having professional women’s and men’s tennis on equal footing.”
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO, said: “At the heart of everything the WTA does is producing the highest-quality product and experience, and the strengthened future calendars will have a positive impact for our players, tournaments, fans and partners.
“Equality, including equal compensation, is a fundamental principle of the WTA and it is crucial to attain this level. We appreciate the support from our tournaments in securing this top priority.”
It remains to be seen how the top players will react following their recent ‘rebellion’ in Cancun.
The World No 1 Iga Swiatek sent a letter to the WTA leadership asking for higher compensation, and a more flexible and sustainable schedule.
Meetings took place with some players walking out due to dissatisfaction at the WTA not allowing PTPA representation into the room, and, among the issues discussed was the addition of more mandatory tournaments onto an already burgeoning schedule.
“Obviously, I’ve been on tour for 4 years,” Swiatek told reporters in Cancun. “But this is the first time the top players and lower-ranked players are really, kind of, united to have an impact and to do something. Because yes, we’re not happy with some things, and we want to change the schedule for next year.
“We’re going to have much more mandatory tournaments and it’s going to have a huge negative impact on our health and well-being.
“I’m 22, and I’ve played 2 of the most intense seasons in my life, and I already feel like it’s going to be tough for me to continue for so many years ahead if WTA is going to go that way, to increase the amount of mandatory tournaments.
“Most of the 1000 tournaments are going to be 2 weeks in future years, which is also going to, kind of, affect our time at home, and time in between the tournaments.
“So I feel, like, everything is just based on wanting to have more and more, but not really taking care of our well-being and health.
“There are some things that WTA could change for us, without an impact on the things they already agreed with the tournaments.
“Hopefully, these changes are going to come, and we’re going to find a compromise where everybody is, kind, of happy. But for sure, only talking about the relationship, I feel like me and the other players.. like Ons [Jabeur], Coco [Gauff], the players that are here.. actually, like, everybody. The players that didn’t qualify for the finals. We are really United and think the same way.
“The young ones, the older ones, we all know that this isn’t good that we’re going to have more mandatory tournaments. So we want to really have an impact. Because when it’s going to happen, it’s gonna stay forever and it’s gonna get worse. Hopefully, we’re gonna be able to push.”
The WTA promised to respond to player concerns by 17 November so more can be expected on the subject over the coming days.