Home » The Queen’s Club set to host pre-Wimbledon women’s event for first time since 1973

The Queen’s Club set to host pre-Wimbledon women’s event for first time since 1973

The Queen’s Club is poised to stage a pre-Wimbledon tournament for women for the first time since 1973.

If plans are approved, a WTA tournament will be held the week after the French Open in June, on grass courts which will be used by men the following week.

Although no final decision has been made, the LTA and The All England Club are keen to bring a WTA event back to London after more than half a century.

The WTA will need to sanction the new tournament, which could start in 2025.

It is expected to replace Eastbourne as the sole WTA 500 event staged in the UK in the run up to Wimbledon.

Eastbourne will remain in its traditional place, in the week before Wimbledon, but is likely to be downgraded to WTA 250 status. This means fewer ranking points will be awarded, and prize money could potentially fall.

The idea has stemmed from a year-long review of the grass court season, which has also been looking at new ways of maximising the impact of those summer weeks.

If all parties can be persuaded, the new schedule should appear in the 2025 WTA calendar, which is expected to be published in April.

Margaret Court, Chris Evert and Ann Jones all won the women’s title at Queen’s before the event ended in 1973. It is felt a return to Queen’s would boost the visibility and profile of the women’s game.

Attracting a field of appropriate quality may prove challenging, however, as many top players prefer not to enter a tournament in the week after a Grand Slam: in this case in anticipation of a deep run on the clay courts of Roland Garros.

Last year, for example, just five top-20 players contested the WTA tournaments in s-Hertogenbosch and Nottingham in the week after the French Open.

Ticket prices may well need to be significantly lower than the hefty sums associated with the men’s event. But with the stands going up for the men, and a number of commercial partners already supporting the ATP tournament, the LTA will hope this is also an opportunity to increase revenue.

The courts at The Queen’s Club will be put under unprecedented strain, although research carried out for the LTA and the All England Club suggests a week of women’s matches causes less stress to grass than a similar load of men’s matches.

The women will get first use of the new courts, although some of the men may prefer the harder and less slippery courts they will inherit.

The future of the WTA events in Nottingham and Birmingham is not yet clear. There is no scope for an extra UK grass-court event, so it appears as if one of the two will cease to stage a WTA tournament.

Nottingham has traditionally been the venue in the week reserved for the new Queen’s Club tournament. The Edgbaston Priory Club has been staging a tournament in the second week of the grass court season since 1982, but the event has consistently failed to break even.

It remains to be seen whether the playing field at Eastbourne, which last year featured five of the world’s top 10, will be affected by the tournament being downgraded to a WTA 250.

There will be fewer ranking points on offer than at the week’s other tournament in the German town of Bad Homburg, but many of those who do still want to play in the week before Wimbledon may prefer the shorter journey to The All England Club from the south coast of England.

“The LTA and the All England Club have been reviewing the grass court season with the intention of improving the experience for fans and players,” the LTA said in a statement.

“We continue to discuss the future grass court calendar with the ATP and WTA, however, at the moment no final decisions have been taken.”