If reports in the media that we are hearing prove to be correct, then the WTA is to be congratulated for taking an important step towards standardising the professional game in the eyes of the general public, the fans.
I tried to get us together back in 1968 and 1970 and the men rejected us. Roger Federer just brought it up not too long ago, saying that men and women should be together. I have always felt that if we were together, we would have one voice and not just what we can do on the court but what we could do for the world off the court as one. I don’t think it is going to happen in the near future, but I wish I did. Billie Jean King
The WTA Tour apparently is re-naming its tournament categories to fall into line with the ATP Tour, according to the Spanish sports newspaper, Marca, and others.
Under the proposed plans, the women’s Premier Mandatory tournaments, which currently are Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing, will become known as Masters 1000s, while the 5 Premier events in Doha, Rome, the Rogers Cup in Canada, Cincinnati and Wuhan are to be renamed 500 tournaments under the new system, the International events will change to 250 events, and $125Ks will be known as 125 events.
Points given to the winners, however, may well not be allocated on the same basis as their equivalents on the ATP Tour, which will continue with its ATP’s Masters 1000, ATP 500 and ATP 250 structure.
The WTA currently awards 1,000 points, 900 points and 470 points for its three variations of Premier events.
Marca adds that the changes will be officially confirmed by the WTA this coming week, while the Tour has already announced that their event in Madrid is extending by another three days and will be an 11-day tournament.
The WTA tour has not announced whether other tournaments will have changes in 2021, the schedule for which may well have to be modified if the Australian Open shifts dates in January.
Already several January tournaments have been impacted by the on-going coronavirus pandemic crisis, with Auckland cancelled, and Brisbane, Sydney and Tasmania unlikely to be held in their respective domains.
A move to standardising the sport so that audiences around the world gain a better understanding its structure and rules can only be a step in the right direction.
Talks of merging the two tours have apparently stalled, although many believe the creation of ‘one voice’ would make business sense.
Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer sparked a fresh debate earlier this year when he called for men’s and women’s tennis to be ‘united’, suggesting the time had come to bring the two tours together while the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Billie Jean King does not believe an ATP-WTA merger will happen in the near future but reckons tournaments make a lot more money when men and women play at the same event.
“I tried to get us together back in 1968 and 1970 and the men rejected us,” King said in September. “Roger Federer just brought it up not too long ago, saying that men and women should be together.
“I have always felt that if we were together, we would have one voice and not just what we can do on the court but what we could do for the world off the court as one.
“I don’t think it is going to happen in the near future, but I wish I did.”
Aside from the four Grand Slams, Indian Wells, the Italian Open and Miami are among the handful of tournaments where the ATP and WTA players both feature at the same time.
“Just from a pure business point of view, when you have the men and women together the tournament is worth a lot more money,” King added. “I think we need to discuss that more often.
“The men always say that they are so big about business and yet they are the ones that don’t want us to be together when we should be, but it is okay, let’s keep moving.”