WTA chief ‘excited’ about restart, but insists ‘we will not hesitate to shut down’ if it’s unsafe

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It is all systems go for the resumption of women’s tennis and WTA chief executive Steve Simon hopes the first three events will create a pathway for the way forward for tennis, but warns they won’t hesitate to pull the plug if they “don’t like what’s happening”.

Tennis will finally resume in less than a fortnight following a five-month enforced hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic with the Palermo Open scheduled to get things going again from August 3-9.

“I’d say there’s definitely an excitement to get back to doing what we love,” Simon told Reuters via video call.

“Obviously there’s been a lot of hard work that’s been done by the tournament promoters as well as the team to get us to this stage. So we’re going into this with great hopes.

“And hopefully we’ve found a solution that will allow tennis to operate in this environment.”

Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep, world No 14 Johanna Konta and world No 15 Petra Martic are among the players who will compete in Palermo.

‘Exceptional news’ for Palermo Open as Simona Halep signs up for WTA’s comeback event

The WTA Tour will then move to the Czech Republic and the United States for the Prague Open and the inaugural Top Seed Open in Kentucky respectively.

He continued: “I think our first three events — Palermo, Prague and Lexington — will certainly create that pathway for us.

“Those three tournaments are going to happen unless we should receive a last-minute issue from the government or local medical officials.”

Flushing Meadows in New York will then host the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open, but Simon admits they faced a lot of difficult questions with regards to the restart.

And although they are happy with the answers they have come up with, he insists they will not hesitate to make tough decisions should things not go as planned.

“Where we got to was, unless everybody can travel nobody plays? Or do we try to find opportunities for all of those that can play and feel comfortable playing?” Simon said.

“And we got to the balance: We should be trying to get as many jobs and as many opportunities for as many people as we can to continue our sport.

“Obviously, if we don’t think the balance is right or we think the conditions have changed and it’s not safe, (or) we don’t like what’s happening due to the challenges we have, we will not hesitate to shut down.”

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