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WTA tournament structure, categories, and format

The Women’s Tennis Association or WTA was founded in 1973 by Billie Jean King. It manages, runs, and governs the WTA Tour which is a professional global tennis tour for women. It succeeded The Virginia Slims Tournament which ran from 1970-1973.

Organizational structure:

The WTA’s organizational structure is best represented by the chart below:


The WTA has 3 offices across the globe. The main corporate headquarters is in St. Petersburg, Florida while the European and Asia-Pacific headquarters are strategically positioned in London, England and Beijing, China respectively.

The WTA acts as the premier organizing body in the world of women’s tennis. It ranks players based on a set of tournament categories and awards the winners on career achievements or season performance and accomplishments.


The WTA Categories:

  1. The Grand Slam – the crème de la crème. Also called the Majors, these are the most important tennis tournaments held annually around the world – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.
  2. Then comes the Year-ending Championships, a.k.a, WTA Tour Championships, which is the fifth most celebrated women’s tennis tour event. It comes right after the four Majors/Grand Slams.
  3. Next in line are the Premier Tournaments, implemented in 2009 to replace the Tier I and II WTA tournaments. The Premiers include:
    • Four “Premier Mandatory” events
    • Five “Premier 5” events
    • Ten “Premier” events
    • These Premier Tournaments serve as pathways to the WTA Tour Championships (or Year-ending Championships) as mentioned in the previous category.
  4. Now we go to the International Tournaments. Just like the Premier Tournaments, it was introduced in 2009 replacing the Tier III and IV events. It consists of 30 tournaments – 29 knock-out tournaments and 1 season-ending WTA Tournament of Champions.
  5. Lastly, the WTA 125k Series was launched in 2012 as an international women’s tennis series. Also called WTA Challenger series, it sits at the second highest level in the women’s competition division right below the WTA Tour and above the ITF Women’s Circuit tournaments.

The Ranking Format

Players are ranked based on 52weeks ofintense hard work. It follows a cumulative system in which a player’s results are summed from a maximum of 16 tournaments for singles and 11 for doubles.Depending on the tournament category she played in, the player is awarded a specific number of points. The more prestigious the tournament, the higher the number of points awarded (e.g. ranking first in the one of the Grand Slams, gives her more points than doing the same in the International Tournament).

The following are the WTA Awards:

  • Player of the Year
  • Doubles Team of the Year
  • Most Improved Player
  • Newcomer of the Year
  • Comeback Player of the Year
  • Player Service
  • Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award
  • Tournaments of the Year
  • Diamond Aces
  • Fan Favorite Singles Player of the Year
  • Fan Favorite Doubles Team of the Year
  • Fan Favorite Breakthrough Player
  • Humanitarian of the Year
© 2013 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Information and Statistics