London's Queen's Club to host WTA Tour event for first time in 52 years

tennis16 May 2024 15:40| © AFP
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Queen's Club will host London's first tour-level women's event in more than 50 years in 2025, British tennis chiefs announced on Thursday.

The Lawn Tennis Association, the sport's governing body in Britain, cited a desire to raise the profile of women's tennis and boost the visibility of the game in the run-up to Wimbledon as reasons for a shake-up in the grass-court season.

The new WTA 500 event at Queen's Club, will take place in the week after the French Open, with the established men's tournament to follow.

The men's ATP Tour had expressed concerns that the grass surface would suffer with two consecutive weeks of play.

The last time a women's event was staged at the venue was in 1973.

The Birmingham and Eastbourne tournaments will be downgraded.

The Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, which has staged a WTA Tour event since 1982, will now host a combined men's and women's second-tier tournament in the second week of the French Open.

The combined event in Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon, the only last of tennis's four 'majors' still played on grass, will be at the lowest 250 level for the WTA Tour and the men's ATP Tour.

The LTA revealed last month that a sticking point was a concern from the ATP over the impact on its event, second only in status to Wimbledon during the British grass swing, of a women's tournament the previous week.

Chris Pollard, the LTA's director of major events and digital, admitted the arrangement could end up being only for a year if male players were unhappy, but he was confident it would be a permanent change.

"We have absolute confidence that we can stage a two-week event at the Queen's Club," said Pollard.

"Obviously the Championships at Wimbledon prove that grass can withstand two weeks of tennis. We've got independent data that really provides a lot of evidence that the men's week will not suffer in any way, shape or form."