The Women’s Tennis Association
Read all about the WTA, from its beginnings up to today, and understand how its cumulative points ranking system works.
History of the WTA
The Women’s Tennis Association, more commonly known as the WTA, was founded by Billie Jean King in 1973. She did this to try and establish more equality between women and men tennis players, mainly due to the prize funds being much larger for men than for women. An example of this was when Margaret Court won the Grand Slam in 1970 and received just a $15,000 bonus, whilst for men this same bonus could reach up to $1 million. It became such an issue that several women tennis players were intending to boycott the next Grand Slam event. Billie Jean King then created the 1970 Houston Women’s Invitation, a women’s only tournament with nine participants. These same nine women, along with the publisher of World Tennis Magazine Gladys Heldman, then created their own tour called The Virginia Slims Circuit in an act of total rebellion against the United States Lawn Tennis Association.
By uniting all the women tennis players she paved the way for a new era within the tennis world. It didn’t take long before the first matches were being broadcast on television and sponsorship started rolling in. By 1980 over 250 women were taking part in the association, with 47 global events and a prize fund of $7.2 million. All of this not only helped to advance gender equality within tennis but also for women’s sports in general. Those nine tennis players became famous for this and were nicknamed The Original Nine. The tour then slowly grew into the WTA we know today.
The WTA has kept growing and is today’s global leader in women’s professional sport with over 2,500 players representing 92 nations. There are more than 50 events and four Grand Slam tournaments held every year in several different countries for a total of over $125 million in prize money.
The WTA Ranking System
The WTA Ranking System is based on a yearly cumulative point system. This means that a player’s ranking is determined by the results in a maximum of 16 tournaments for singles and 11 tournaments for doubles. The system is made up in such a way that there are certain tournaments that give more points than others, for example a Premier Mandatory tournament will give 1000 points to the overall winner but a WTA International tournament will only give 280 points to the winner. Also, the further a player reaches in a tournament will give her more points towards her total amount, with a huge difference between a first round defeat and winning the title. All in all, it’s a fairly complicated point system but is accurate as an indicator for a players performance. The best and most consistent players will always be near the top of the rankings list.
Some would say that the downside to this system is the fact that it forces players to continuously compete at specific places and times. This in turn means that if a player has an injury she will lose points for not being able to compete. But, this is the same for every woman on the tour and if an injured player performs well before and after a lay-off, she should return to where she was previously ranked quite quickly.
2016 WTA Tour Information
The 2016 Women’s Tennis Association Tour is the 46th edition and will run from 4 January – 6 November, consisting of 62 tournaments. These tournaments are made up of four Grand Slams, four Premier Mandatory events, five Premier 5 events, Twelve Premier events, 34 International events, the WTA Finals, The summer Olympic Games and the WTA Elite Trophy.
Serena Williams started the year at the top of the WTA rankings list, with players like Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza closing in on her and aiming to leapfrog her into first place. It will be an exciting season on the WTA Tour with several months of great matches, upset victories, renewed rivalries and rising stars staking their claim on the top titles.