The WTA and Women’s Tennis Struggle With Challenges
While the WTA has been a beacon of hope in American tennis, its leadership has found itself facing a myriad of challenges in the last couple of years.
Tennis great Serena Williams, who has played a role in establishing the WTA in the United States in the 1970s, spoke with USA TODAY Sports about her work in the sport, the WTA’s new chairman and the ongoing women’s tour issues confronting the WTA, its players and its fans.
USA TODAY: For those of us who have followed tennis for many years, do you think this is the time to turn a new page in women’s tennis?
Serena Williams: I think if we want to continue to do what we’ve established, to be successful, we need to do a lot more than what we have done in the last 30 or 40 years. And I think going forward there are going to be a lot of people who will say we have to expand the tournament calendar, we have to add more tournaments, we have to change formats.
You mention expansion and change, but with all due respect, you may not have heard all your players and their partners out there.
In the last few years, we have seen two major players retire and two others announce they will retire at a certain point, so there has been change, but I feel like we have to be very careful with these changes.
You have to listen to the players. They love it when you come to play. They love to play for their parents, they love to play when it’s hard to get to, and they are excited every time they get in the stadium and see the crowd.
That’s why we need to be careful with how we move forward.
USA TODAY: How do you think these changes have affected the players?
Williams: We have had a very long process of dialogue and consultation with the players, and the players have said, ‘Yes, we want to see the tournament calendar move. We want to see more tournaments.’
I’ve never been that involved in the game of tennis before, but in the last five years, we have played two Grand Slams. That’s a lot, and I know there have been other people that I respect that have played in five Grand Slams.