Simon: Don’t Expect WTA To Return To Normal Until 2022

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Pro tennis has been decimated by the forced shutdown of the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected much if not all of the sports world this year. Like the ATP, the WTA has been idle since the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in early March – and just two days ago lost a big chunk of its yearly revenue when the Chinese government pulled the plug on all non-Olympics-related international sports resulting in seven WTA tournaments being cancelled, including the WTA Finals – the season will finally resume in Palermo, Italy, on August 3. The current tennis calendar for the remainder of 2020 – especially the WTA’s – is a skeleton of its original.

On Saturday, in an interview with Reuters, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said he doesn’t see the women’s pro tour returning to any semblance of normalcy before 2022.

“The WTA is no different than any other business in this world and everybody’s been affected financially by this,” said Simon. “And we’ve been hit hard, just as many other companies have been as well. If we’re not operating and you’re losing 50 to 60 percent of your year, your financials and your revenues are going to drop significantly. 

“Do we have some big challenges financially? Absolutely. But we do have a strategy, we do have a plan in place that’s going to allow us to operate.

“And from a good news standpoint, our tournaments seem to be strong and stable as well, and are weathering it.

“You never know where you might lose one. But it appears that most of our calendar will stay intact if obviously the conditions allow for sporting events to be held going forward.”

Simon suggested that with the number of new COVID-19 cases happening daily throughout the world, which continues to affect international travel, the WTA’s planning is and remains in a fluid state – ready to change hourly as necessary.

“I don’t think that we will be back to what we used to take as ‘normalcy’ probably until 2022,” said Simon. “So we’re now also looking at how are we going to manage 2021, because I don’t think this goes away as of January.”

Dream UTS2 start for Gasquet as he shuts out Dimitrov

Ultimate Tennis Showdown 2 began with four group play matches at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Nice, France, on Saturday afternoon and evening. Among the first-day winners was Richard Gasquet, who shut out Grigor Dimitrov 4-0. Gasquet was a semifinalist in UTS1 earlier this month while this was Dimitrov’s first action since recovering from Covid-19, which forced him to withdraw from last month’s Adria Tour in Zadar, Croatia. Other Saturday winners were: Corentin Moutet, Benoit Paire and Feliciano Lopez.

WTT: Orlando scores big upset win over Philadelphia

The Orlando Storm pulled off a major upset by knocking off the first-place Philadelphia Freedoms 23-13 in World TeamTennis play at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on Saturday. The loss snapped Philadelphia’s six-match winning stream and it was Orlando’s third consecutive team victory. The Freedoms’ only set win came in mixed doubles behind Fabrice Martin and Taylor Townsend. Otherwise, it was all Storm behind singles set wins by Tennys Sandgren over Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula against Sofia Kenin.

With Philadelphia’s loss and the Chicago Smash’s 21-16 win over the New York Empire Saturday night, there’s a tie atop the WTT standings as Philadelphia and Chicago share 8-2 win-loss records followed by Orlando in third place at 6-4. The top four teams advance to the WTT playoffs, which begin August 1.

Tan surprise winner in final FFT Elite Challenge event

World No. 242 Harmony Tan upset No. 59 Alizé Cornet 7-6 (6), 6-3 to win the third and final leg of the FFT Elite Challenge exhibition tournament in Villeneuve-Loubet, France, on Saturday. The 22-year-old Tan, who has toiled away on the ITF Women’s World Tennis circuit, beat three players ranked above her this week en route to the title. Cornet had beaten Tan, 6-2, 6-3, in group play earlier in the week.

Tennis United: A reunion of Grand Slam doubles partners

It’s doubles week on Episode 16 of Tennis United. Bethanie Mattek-Sands gets together with her former doubles partner Lucie Safarova for an enjoyable conversation between Team Bucie partners. Together, Mattek-Sands and Safarova won five Grand Slam championships (two Australian Open, two Roland Garros, one US Open).

What they’re saying

Janko Tipsarevic following Friday evening’s completion of the Eastern European Championships in Belgrade, which he hosted at his Tipsarevic Tennis Academy: “This is a great victory for tennis, the city of Belgrade and the state of Serbia and an indication that this beautiful sport can exist and continue to be played, if we are all socially disciplined.”

What they’re writing

From Tennis.com comes word that wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer has completed cancer treatment and will return to work as the leader of the Dutch team as it prepares for next year’s Tokyo Paralympics.

What they’re sharing on social media

Naomi Osaka / Wearing orange to support the WNBA

Tennis Majors / A friendly breaks out between @benoitpaire and @DreddyTennis 

Iga Swiatek / You must learn to be disciplined