Women’s WTA Tennis Tour Renames Its Events, In Line With ATP

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’

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Women’s tour aligns tournament categories with ATP

By Sudipto Ganguly

a close up of a woman with pink hair looking at the camera: WTA Premier - St Petersburg Ladies Trophy

WTA Premier – St Petersburg Ladies Trophy

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) will rename its tournament categories from next season to align with the men’s ATP, a sign of further collaboration between the tours following a season that was severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global health crisis decimated the 2020 tennis calendar and prompted calls for a merger of the governing bodies, a suggestion that was well received by both the WTA and ATP.

The women’s tour has comprised of five tiers — Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, Premier, International and $125K events, while the ATP has Masters 1000, 500, and 250-level tournaments.

From the 2021 season, the WTA’s Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 tournaments will be categorised as WTA 1000, the Premier events will be WTA 500, the International level will be renamed WTA 250 while the $125k events will be known as WTA 125.

“A numerical system allows for immediate understanding of tournament level, providing fans with a simple way to understand and engage with the Tour and tournaments,” WTA President Micky Lawler told Reuters.

“In addition to providing simplicity and immediate understanding, this provides alignment with ATP’s tournament nomenclature so that professional tennis is consistent and reflects the same tournament naming system.”

Prize money and ranking points of the renamed WTA categories will not be changed to mirror that of their ATP equivalent.

Merging the professional tours would be no easy task.

As many as seven associations run different parts of tennis around the world. In addition to the ATP and WTA, the sport is also controlled by the International Tennis Federation and the boards of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

The men’s and women’s tours have a separate ranking system while some rules, including on-court coaching, are also different.

However, a merger could simplify television contracts and sponsorship deals as viewers currently need different pay-TV platforms to watch matches.

“2020 has paved a unique opportunity for greater synergy across all the governing bodies of tennis,” Lawler said, adding that she was proud of the WTA’s work with the ATP and looked forward to further collaboration to help strengthen the sport.

As part of its rebranding, the women’s governing body will reveal a new logo on Wednesday and launch a ‘WTA For The Game’ https://www.wtatennis.com/videos/1922112/for-something-bigger-than-the-game campaign, featuring top current players, to better connect with fans.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by xx)

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