The women’s WTA tennis tour, the leading global sports league for women, is rebranding its tournaments to make the sport easier to understand for its fans.
As part of an overall revamp that also includes a new logo and a new marketing campaign called “WTA For The Game,” the women’s tour will rename its main events.
Starting from 2021, its tournaments will be called WTA 1000, WTA 500, WTA 250 and WTA 125. The ATP Tour has Masters 1000s, ATP 500s and ATP 250s.
Although the overhaul is not tied to specific ranking points (which will stay the same) or prize money, it is a sign of growing cooperation between WTA and the ATP during one of the most difficult years the sport has ever seen. All of professional tennis was shut down in March for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the cancellation of Wimbledon for the first time since the Second World War.
“Tennis is so complicated with different governing bodies,” Micky Lawler, president of the WTA and head of marketing initiatives, said in an interview via video call from the US last week. “So in the space of professional tennis, it was important to simplify the tournament nomenclature for the fan. And we achieved that. We say this with great gratitude towards the ATP because they supported that direction and they were great to work with on this.”
Tennis is ruled by seven different governing bodies (the four Grand Slam events, the ATP Tour, the WTA Tour and the International Tennis Federation), each with their own sets of rules and tournament structures.
But the pandemic has triggered much more cooperation, with 20-time major singles winner Roger Federer leading calls for a merger between the two Tours with a series of tweets in April.
“We have done a lot of work together,” Lawler said, when asked about the WTA’s work with the men’s Tour. “Our CEO, Steve Simon, has worked very closely with all the governing bodies in getting tennis back. And we have worked on the marketing side and on the branding side…Our day-to-day operations are very closely linked. The nomenclature is completely aligned. So our spirit, or our culture in all of this has changed, and it’s clear that the benefits of working together are tremendous.”
From 2021, the WTA’s Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, Doha, Rome, Canada, Cincinnati and Wuhan will be renamed WTA 1000. Its Premier 700 events will be renamed WTA 500, while its International tournaments will be called WTA 250. The WTA’s 125K Series will be renamed WTA 125.
“Fans really respond to the unified approach which tennis is uniquely able to provide,” said Lawler. “We see it with ticket sales at combined women’s and men’s tournaments, viewership on shared broadcast platforms and the popularity of the ‘Tennis United’