Is women’s tennis heading to Queen’s? All you need to know about controversial grass season plans

Women's tennis will be back at the Queen's Club in 2025
Women's tennis will be back at the Queen's Club in 2025

The British grass court season is a staple of the summer, with the very best of the tennis world testing themselves on the grass before heading to Wimbledon.

And this is a part of the season that has been largely unchanged for a good number of years, with only a few alterations regarding the key events traditionally in the calendar.

But there could be a dramatic change as early as next year, with plans to host a new WTA 500 event at the Queen’s Club.

We look at what those plans are, what they mean for other events, and why there has been so much debate.

What is the proposed plan for Queen’s?

For over five decades the Queen’s Club has been an ATP-only event, with Olga Morozova the last female champion in 1973.

However, there are now plans to introduce a new WTA 500 event at the site in south west London, which would become the biggest women’s grass event in Britain before Wimbledon.

The plan is for the WTA event to be held the week after the French Open finishes, with the men’s event held the following week – maintaining its usual spot.

Read More: Andy Murray issues unexpected injury update as he keeps retirement dream alive

How does this affect the other grass court events?

Three women’s events currently take place in Britain as part of the grass season before Wimbledon – WTA 250 events in Nottingham and Birmingham, and the WTA 500 event in Eastbourne.

Nottingham is traditionally held the week this proposed new event would take place, meaning action at the Nottingham Tennis Centre would likely be moved to the following week.

That would likely take the place of Birmingham, which is usually held the same week as the men’s event at Queen’s; the LTA has no scope for an extra event, meaning one event would be removed from the calendar.

It would also mean that the tournament at Eastbourne – currently a WTA 500 and ATP 250 – would become a WTA 250 as well.

This would mean that no top 10 players could enter the WTA event at Eastbourne, unless they were British or the defending champion.

Why is the proposal so controversial?

The proposal has attracted huge controversy for a number of reasons.

Initially, the main controversy was the impact the new tournament would have on Birmingham and Eastbourne.

Held at the Edgbaston Priory since 1982, Birmingham was a WTA 500 event just a few years ago, with Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova among the recent champions; now it risks no longer existing.

While the event at Eastbourne, which consistently has the majority of the world’s top 20 compete in the women’s draw the week before Wimbledon, would be severely depleted in terms of star names.

Read More: Swiatek, Sabalenka, Gauff: 5 key talking points as Stuttgart hosts blockbuster WTA event

Because of this, some have accused the LTA of making tennis too London-centric – though LTA CEO Scott Lloyd has rebuked this.

He said: “It’s not about looking to concentrate our tournaments in London.

“We will still absolutely support our other venues throughout that calendar, and indeed as you see us doing with Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup – whether that’s Glasgow, Manchester, Coventry. We want to have that geographical diversity.”

There are also concerns about the quality of the field that would play at the proposed new event considering it is held directly after the French Open.

Last year only one top 10 player – Maria Sakkari – played on grass the week after Roland Garros, with most top players waiting until the WTA 500 events in Berlin or Eastbourne to get matches under their belt.

Considering how close the proposed event and the French Open would be – and the adjustments needed between clay and grass – some have questioned how many top players would play.

There has now been further controversy, with ATP players reportedly concerned about the quality of the grass they would have to play on after an event has taken place on the same grass the previous week.

This has led to debate about the power imbalance between the men’s and women’s games, though the LTA believe there should be no cause for concern for ATP players

“We have got high confidence, and we have got significant evidence from the All England Club as to how grass courts wear over a two-week period,” Lloyd added.

“The grass courts at Queen’s are perfectly capable of delivering two weeks of professional level tennis. We’ve got the data.

“We think it would be great for that swing of tournaments and for the women’s events, particularly from a visibility and profile perspective.”

Read More: Women who have spent most weeks at No 1 in WTA Rankings: Steffi Graf No 1, Iga Swiatek edges closer to 100 weeks