The WTA officials are in the midst of a busy month. Having just unveiled a major rebrand - a first in over a decade - the governing body of women's tennis has now come out with a calendar outlining the first seven weeks of the 2021 season.
From a newly minted tiering system for tournaments (one similar to the ATP's ranking point based categories) to a confirmed February start for the Australian Open, there's a lot to dissect. Here are some of the top highlights:
WTA 250, 500 & 1000 tiering system
The WTA rebrand came with quite a few big changes, amongst which was the decision to rename tournaments based on the amount of rankings points awarded. Akin to the men's tour, the step has been dubbed as an effort "create consistency and alignment across professional tennis".
Tournaments will now be classified into the WTA 250, 500 and 1000 categories, replacing the erstwhile International, Premier, Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 levels.
That said, the amount of points awarded for tournament wins (which vary between 280 to 1000) will remain unchanged.
Abu Dhabi opener
The WTA tour action is set to get underway at the newly minted Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open. A regular feature on the men's calendar, the venue will be hosting a WTA 500 level tournament - between 5-13 January - for the very first time.
Australian Open pushed to February
The women's calendar also put a rest to the speculation around the hosting of the Australian Open. The year's first Slam was listed for a delayed start from February, which was also confirmed at the press conference by tournament director Craig Tiley a few hours later.
Most top players are yet to divulge their travel plans, which could be derailed by quarantine restrictions in Australia and lack of warm-up tournaments.
With that in mind, the governing body has gone the extra mile to ensure at least three weeks of tennis action. Two concurrent WTA 500 tournaments will also be played at Melbourne Park beginning 1 February to ensure that players get to spend the extra bit of time out on the court heading into the big fortnight.Published 20 Dec 2020, 09:21 IST