The WTA announced its schedule for the beginning portion of the 2021 season on Friday, following the official announcement of the delayed dates of the Australian Open.
Posting a calendar of the first seven weeks, the season will get underway at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open on Jan. 5. A qualifying tournament for the Australian Open will be held the following week in Dubai.
Players, as well as their coaches and other support staff, are then expected to arrive in Melbourne for the year's first major between Jan. 15-17 to begin a 14-day quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. Two lead-up events, replacing canceled tournaments elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand, will then be held in Melbourne beginning Feb. 1. The Australian Open is scheduled for Feb. 8-21 and will feature singles, doubles and mixed doubles play.
Another WTA event will be held in Melbourne during the second week of the Slam to ensure players have multiple opportunities for competition. The WTA did not release the schedule beyond that point but said in a news release it plans to do so "in the coming weeks."
"We are excited to announce the first swing of tournaments representing the opening weeks of the 2021 WTA season, all of which will operate in an environment that puts health and safety at the forefront," said WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon in the same release. "We want to express our sincere appreciation for the cooperation between key tennis stakeholders and organizations, along with the local health authorities who have been vital in getting us to this point. The hard work will continue as we look further ahead into 2021 to ensure a safe and robust calendar."
The ATP announced its initial calendar earlier this week, and also will begin its season the first week of January with two tournaments in Delray Beach, Florida, and Antalya, Turkey. Qualifying for the men's draw of the Australian Open will then be held in Doha, Qatar. Two men's tournaments will be held in Melbourne, as well as the ATP Cup, prior to the start of the Australian Open. The ATP said it plans to release more of its schedule at a later date.