What is WTA tour? How are they so important?
The WTA is the world pioneer in women’s competitive sports, established by Billie Jean King in 1973 on the concept of equal opportunity. The WTA is one of the most well-known and high-profile sporting associations in the world, with over 1650 players from 85 countries vying for WTA ranking points and coveted tournament titles. The WTA Tour consists of more than 50 events and four Grand Slams, covering six continents and almost 30 countries and territories, and attracting a worldwide audience of more than 700 million people.
The Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen, which honours the season’s best singles and doubles players based on the final standings of the Porsche Race to Shenzhen leaderboard, concludes the Tour. WTA tennis facts can be found at wtatennis.com.
The beginning of an era with WTA tours
By 1970s standards, Billie Jean King and her gang of eight other outlaws were groundbreaking. They dreamed a brighter future for women’s tennis two years before Title IX was passed in the United States.
Nine players signed $1 contracts with World Tennis publisher Gladys Heldman to participate in a new women’s circuit, the Virginia Slims Series, in September 1970, marking the beginning of women’s professional tennis. Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss, and Julie Heldman were among the Original 9.
The journey began with the leaders
1971: The Virginia Slims Series debuts in the United States, with 19 tournaments and a combined prize pool of $309,100. Billie Jean King became the first female athlete to win six figures in a single season.
Billie Jean King founds the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973, bringing together all elite women’s tennis into one circuit. The WTA arose from a gathering of more than 60 players held the week before Wimbledon in a room at the Gloucester Hotel in London. For the first time, the US Open gave equal prize money to men and women. King stuns Bobby Riggs in The Battle of the Sexes at the Houston Astrodome a few weeks later.
- On November 3, 1975, Chris Evert is mounted as the WTA tour first official world No.1 and the computerised ranking period begins.
- 1976: Colgate takes over sponsorship of tour competitions for four years, from April to November, and Evert becomes the first female athlete to win $1 million in her lifetime.
- The Virginia Slims Championships are held for the first time in 1977 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The unstoppable journey
Despite a five-month hiatus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tour’s young stars managed to shine in the 2020 season. Sofia Kenin won the Australian Open, making her the youngest American Slam champion since Serena Williams, and 19-year-old Iga Swiatek won Roland Garros, making her Poland’s first major champion. Naomi Osaka, not to be outdone, won her second US Open and third major in as many years. Simona Halep and Aryna Sabalenka led the tour with three titles apiece in a year in which 24 tournaments were held, and Ashleigh Barty maintained her No. 1 ranking from start to finish.