Simple guide to complicated changes in women’s tennis

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Sony Ericsson WTA TourPaula Vergara simplified the 2009 WTA Roadmap calendar in her guest post for On the Baseline, and she did an excellent job. It will be useful to remind yourselves once again of the historic changes to women’s tennis with this easy-to-understand guide.

Paula’s work, which I adapted a little bit, will help you understand the changes better and help you follow women’s tennis with more knowledge about its structure from this season on.


The 2009 calendar features 54 tournaments across 31 countries (including all four Grand Slams) compared to last year’s 60 tournaments in 34 countries. There will be 25 tournaments in Europe, 15 in the Americas and 14 in the Asia-Pacific region.


The WTA Tour is replacing a four-tier system with “Premier” and “International” tournaments. The differences between Premier and International events are based on prize money, ranking points, and player fields.


Premier tournaments are the marquee events of the WTA tour – designed for top-level players, and offer the largest paychecks. Formerly Tier I/II events, there are 20 Premier tournaments in all.

Three types of Premier tournaments:

1) Premier Mandatory – Required/combined tournaments for all players who qualify by ranking with prize money equal to the total men’s prize money for the same event ($4.5 million).

4 required tournaments:

– Indian Wells – March 11-22
– Sony Ericsson Open – March 25-April 4
– Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open – May 9-17
– China Open – October 3-11

2) Premier 5 – Tournaments having minimum prize money of $2,000,000

– 5 tournaments

3) Premier $700 – Tournaments having minimum prize money of $600,000 or $700,000

-9 tournaments

International tournaments are designed for the other 950 players on the WTA tour, with minimum prize money of $220,000. Formerly Tier III/IV events, there are 29 International tournaments in all.


Here’s how many points tournament winners will get:

Grand Slam – 2,000 points
Premier Mandatory – 1,000 points
Premier 5 – 800 points
Premier $700 – 470 points
International – 280 points


– Total tournament commitment dropped from 13 to 10
– 20% increase in prize money – just over $85 million overall
– Less abrupt surface changes between tournaments
– More in-season breaks for players
– A bit longer off-season
– Permanent introduction of on-court coaching – TV viewers will be able to hear conversations between players and coaches


WTA and ATP players will be seeing a lot more of each other in 2009.

Combined Events for 2009 (17 total):

Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, Sydney, Moscow, Eastbourne, New Haven, Brisbane, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Estoril, Memphis, Acapulco, and all four Grand Slams.

Back-to-Back Combined Events for 2009 (8 total):

Dubai, Tokyo, Rome, Cincinnati, Canada, Auckland, Bastad, and Warsaw


There will be two season-ending championships, one for Premier and one for International tournaments.

Premier Championships:

Sony Ericsson Championships – Doha, Qatar
-Held at the end of the season (Oct. 27-Nov. 1)
-Minimum of $4,450,000 in prize money (US currency).

International Championships:

The Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions – Bali, Indonesia
-Held AFTER the end of the season (Nov. 4-9)
-Round-robin format
-Players who have qualified for the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships singles event will not be eligible to play this tournament.
-Minimum of $600,000 in prize money

2 thoughts on “Simple guide to complicated changes in women’s tennis

  1. Maca

    a lot of changes for nothing, except they increase the money but I don’t think that the tennis players will be more satisfactured with a few thousands more. The good chande are the longer in-season breaks. Anyway just wasting time…

  2. Marija

    Maca, I’m excited about these changes, although, my first impression was that the WTA Tour primarily tailored the changes to please the sponsors and earn more money. We will fully realize the impact of the changes at the end of the season.

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