WASHINGTON, June 17, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
The WTA Tour has announced it will restart its 2020 season beginning on August 3 with the Palermo Ladies Open in Italy.
The Palermo event on red clay is the first of 20 tournaments provisionally announced (which includes two to be determined) on Wednesday leading up to the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen in Shenzhen, China. The WTA’s plan to return to play is “subject to appropriate governmental and health-related approvals,” it said on its website. The restart of women’s pro tennis comes following five months of suspension due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“The calendar is conditioned on several key factors including the ability for play to safely resume in line with the guidance of medical experts, governmental approval of sporting events, and relaxed travel policies,” the WTA said in a statement on its website. “The WTA’s strategic plan and provisional Tour calendar is in alignment with the efforts of the ATP, ITF, USTA and FFT.”
The WTA Tour said it anticipates that tournaments will be held without fans and each tournament will have “a limited footprint, with players and essential personnel only.”
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO, said: “Having assessed the global outlook for travel in the latter half of the year, working with our medical experts on providing the safest environment possible, and working through the diverse operational challenges for running events safely in the context of Covid-19, the WTA is pleased to release a calendar for the remainder of the 2020 season.
“For now, the vital energy of spectators in stadiums will be greatly missed, but our broadcast and social media partners are exploring new ways to engage with our fantastic fans. It is our sincere hope and desire that we will be able to return to play this summer.”
After Palermo, the WTA Tour continues with the Western & Southern Open, which has been moved from Mason, Ohio, near Cincinnati, to New York City, and will be held a week prior to the US Open, which will keep its original schedule (Aug. 31-Sept. 13). After the US Open, the WTA Tour heads to Europe and red clay, including Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. There will also be smaller events held in Istanbul and Strasbourg.
In October, the WTA Tour continues on in Europe, Asia And the Asian Pacific, featuring several stops in China as well as Moscow and Tokyo, culminated by the WTA Tour Finals in Shenzhen the week of November 9.
The WTA announced with its provisional plan to restart the season, the Porsche Race to Shenzhen will resume “with all points earned in 2020 eligible to count for qualification towards the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.”
We are excited to announce a plan for the WTA Tour to return to play this season!
— wta (@WTA) June 17, 2020
• Upper Austria Ladies Linz – The Upper Austria Ladies Linz, which dates back to 1991, is planning to operate in the fall. Its new dates are still to be finalized. It was originally scheduled from Oct. 12-18, but those dates have been replaced by the China Open in Beijing, a WTA Premier Mandatory tournament.
• Rankings update – While the WTA rankings have been frozen since March 16, according to the WTA website, “a determination on the rankings process will be made in the coming weeks with respect to the most appropriate and fair way for the rankings to resume in parallel with the resumption of the Tour.”