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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, December 2, 2020

 
WTA Logo

The WTA launched a rebranding campaign including a new logo and revamped tournament categories that mirror the ATP as it aims to rise from a rocky 2020.

Photo credit: WTA Tour

The WTA is reshaping its identity.

The women’s pro circuit launched a comprehensive rebranding campaign today including a new logo, revamped tournament categories that mirror the ATP and a new “WTA for the Game” promotional initiative that aims to tell players’ personal stories and deepen fan connection to the Tour.

More: Meet Animated Naomi Osaka

The new logo—the WTA’s first logo rebranding in 10 years—features the silhouette of a player poised to serve above the letters “WTA” with a tennis ball serving as the crossbar for the “A”

The WTA shared the significance of the symbolism in a statement:

The serve is the only shot in tennis where the player has absolute control and where the point begins. It also accentuates the fearless initiative taken by the WTA’s early founders who took control of their destiny and blazed a trail for the women of tennis today. The symbol makes subtle references to the sport’s global nature, framing the athlete within a circle that evokes the universal spirit of the WTA’s platform.

Calling the new logo “a badge of honor”, WTA President Micky Lawler says it tells a visual story of the Tour that was founded in 1973 by the Billie Jean King-led Original 9.

"The WTA is built on the grit, passion and determination of generations of athletes and tournament promoters," said Lawler, who also heads WTA marketing initiatives, said in a statement. "Our new logo embraces the visual language of tennis ad celebrates heroic women who come together ‘For The Game.’

“We will wear it as a badge of pride and a reminder of the power of unity among strong individuals—by joining forces, we build something bigger than ourselves."



Last April, 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer supported King’s long-time quest to explore a potential ATP-WTA merger in a social media post. Federer said a combined Tour would create clarity and eliminate confusion for fans.

"It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories," Federer tweeted.

Now, the WTA shows synergy with ATP tournament categories with a simplified numerical naming system. Gone or “Premier” and “Mandatory” tournament titles.

The new WTA branding shares the same tournament tier system as the ATP. Starting in January, WTA events will now be categorized as WTA 1000 (incorporating the former Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 tournaments); WTA 500 (formerly Premier 700); WTA 250 (International); and WTA 125 (125K Series).

The WTA says it renamed tournaments in an effort to create clarity and simplicity for fans already accustomed to the ATP tournament tier system. The difference in the two tours is the WTA tournament titles do not reflect ranking points awarded to the champion or prize money. The “revised nomenclature is not tied to specific ranking points (which stay the same) or prize money, it is a categorical system to help define WTA tournament levels,” the WTA announced.



Approaching its 50th anniversary celebration in a couple of years, the WTA is an intriguing—and critical—stage of its evolution.

Recent retirements of former world No. 1 superstars, including Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki, are a prelude to the eventual exits of two champions who helped revolutionize the women’s game—23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and seven-time major title holder Venus Williams.

We’re already seeing transition at the top.

Nine of the Top 15-ranked women are Grand Slam champions. Twelve different women have won the last 15 Grand Slam singles titles as only three-time major champion Naomi Osaka and two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep raising Slam silverware repeatedly in that span.

Osaka has emerged as the world’s highest-paid female athlete and a champion for social justice as well. World No. 1 Ash Barty brings variety with her shrewd net play and sharp slice that is a clear contrast to standard baseline banging so prevalent these days. Resurgent champions ranging from Victoria Azarenka to Garbine Muguruza have created compelling comeback stories. Champions including Osaka, Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek and Bianca Andreescu, are all age 23 of younger offering visions of future major battles. Experienced players pursuing maiden majors including Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka, Belinda Bencic, Madison Keys and Johanna Konta are all familiar to fans. And rising young stars ranging from Coco Gauff to Amanda Anisimova to Dayana Yastremska to Leylah Fernandez offer promise for a bright future.

The questions remain: Can the Tour develop and sustain the type of rivalries that really resonated when the Williams sisters, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati were all battling for tournament titles?

And how quickly can the WTA bounce back financially from a damaging COVID-19 disrupted 2020 season that saw the sport suspended for six months and the WTA’s fall Asian swing, including its lucrative crown jewel, the WTA Finals, wiped out by the pandemic?



It’s a critical time for the pro circuit as advertising is down across the board due to the pandemic, some lower-level tournaments are struggling for survival and the fact the Australian Open and perhaps another Grand Slam may be changing calendar dates in 2021 causing schedule shifts in Tour calendars.

Tennis Express

The good news for the Tour is it has a stable of stars and rising talents capable of carrying forward the mantle and making this rebranding more meaningful that just a PR makeover.

It’s another reason why, in these unique circumstances, the Tour sees strength in unity.

"Fans really respond to the unified approach which tennis is uniquely able to provide," said Lawler. "We see it with ticket sales at combined women’s and men’s tournaments, viewership on shared broadcast platforms and the popularity of the ‘Tennis United’ digital content series co-created by the WTA and ATP amidst the challenges of 2020.

"Adopting this streamlined tournament naming system is 100% about making it easier for WTA fans, corporate partners and the media to engage and follow our sport."

 

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