In another demonstration of cooperation between the ATP and the WTA, the women's tennis group has announced that it will reboot and substantially alter its rankings system in a way nearly identical to the path chosen by the ATP.
"In order to balance fairness and flexibility for all players, the WTA Rankings will generally follow the 'Better of 2019 and 2020' point model, in alignment with the ATP Tour," the WTA announced in a release issued Thursday. "In reaching this decision, various elements were considered including the provisional 2020 revised calendar, various travel restrictions, varying levels of player comfort of traveling to compete, as well as the elimination of player commitment requirements for the remainder of 2020."
The ATP revealed its prescription three days ago for what to do when the rankings resume. The rankings on both tours have been frozen since the tours suspended operations in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. For years, the ATP and WTA rankings have been based on a player's performance over a 52-week period, with the points earned in any given week replacing the points earned in the same week the previous year. That system was particularly vulnerable to a complete shutdown like the one caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Like the ATP model, a WTA player's ranking will be based on a 22-month period beginning in mid-March 2019 and ending in December 2020. The ranking will be based on a "better of 2019 and 2020" rule that will award a player whichever is the higher number of points when she has competed in the same tournament twice during the extended rankings period (as will be the case for results from two editions of the US and French Opens). No player will be allowed to use the points earned in both editions of any event.
Both tours calculate the rankings based on a formula that counts a limited number of results, a technique intended to encourage players to play often. The WTA's "best 16" ranking takes into account only the best 16 tournament performances by a player. The ATP generates rankings based on a player's best 18 results. The methodology encourages players to play more often than they might if the rankings were based on a set minimum number of events, and it keeps players who are hungry to improve their rankings from playing so much that they end up with an artificially high ranking.
The rankings are the basis for tournament entry and seedings. The WTA will begin issuing rankings again after the first event since the shutdown, the Palermo Ladies' Open, which begins on Aug. 3, is completed.