LTA reveals plans for new Queen’s Club women’s tournament from 2025

<span>Action from Centre Court at Queen’s last year. There has not been a women’s tournament at the west London venue since 1973. </span><span>Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images</span>
Action from Centre Court at Queen’s last year. There has not been a women’s tournament at the west London venue since 1973. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Lawn Tennis Association is in discussions to bring women’s tennis back to the Queen’s Club in Barons Court, west London, for the first time since 1973 with a new high-profile event at the beginning of the grass-court season.

A new women’s tournament at Queen’s would take place a week before the men’s event begins and a week after Roland Garros. Since Queen’s is a relatively small club, it has neither a sufficient number of courts or space in its clubhouse to accommodate the number of players that would be on-site for a joint men’s and women’s event in the same week.

Discussions are ongoing between the LTA, the WTA and ATP about the potential move, with the main focus of those talks being the potential quality of the grass courts during the ATP event. The LTA is convinced that it can provide the men’s event with high quality grass courts even if a WTA event precedes it at the venue.

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“We’ve got high confidence and we’ve got significant evidence from the All England Club as to how grass courts wear over a two-week period,” said Scott Lloyd, the chief executive of the LTA. “We’ve analysed all of the data; all of the weather conditions, the density of the soil, you name it, the wear on the ‘T’ [the middle of the service line] and baseline, with the view to try to make sure that we can provide the tours with confidence that the courts will be as good as they always are throughout that period. Obviously at Wimbledon you’ve got five-set matches, you’ve actually got more play on those courts over the course of the first week.”

The LTA’s current WTA 500 tournament is at Eastbourne, which takes place the week before Wimbledon and has built a reputation for attracting both strong players and crowds. Should the Queen’s women’s event become a reality, Eastbourne would be downgraded to a WTA 250 event. This would have significant repercussions for the tournament since the WTA now significantly restricts the number of WTA 250 events that top-10 players can compete in. Last year, seven of the top 10 players entered Eastbourne.

While there are some figures within the sport that think there should be more geographical diversity in ­Britain’s biggest tennis events, the LTA believes a significant ­standalone women’s event in the capital at such an iconic venue and in the first week of the grass-court season would elevate the profile of women’s tennis in the country.

“The reality of that location [Eastbourne] is commercially limited to some degree,” said Lloyd. “We just think that having a WTA 500 in week one of a three-week gap straight after Roland Garros would raise the profile of top-level tennis in that period, straight after the clay-court season.

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A spokesperson from Murray's team said the former world No 1's "rehab is going well and he is hoping to start hitting again on court soon" but added that "he doesn't have a date yet for returning to competition".

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“Given we invest in that temporary infrastructure for Queen’s each year, the ability to leverage it for a second week, given that we are investing in it in any event, is an opportunity. And we think that we will be successful in selling out and giving the women’s event that level of visibility, which is greater.”

“It’s not about looking to concentrate our tournaments in London, so to speak. We still absolutely support our other venues throughout that calendar as the way we always have done, and indeed as you see us doing with Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, whether it’s Glasgow, Manchester or Coventry.”

With the prospect of the potential Premier Tour completely reshaping the calendar, the LTA is also concerned with ensuring that, in the event of a revamped schedule, the pre-Wimbledon tournament would be held in Britain.

While the Queen’s Club would not be big enough to host the 96-draw mixed events being proposed in the Premier Tour, the LTA is currently assessing the ability to scale-up ­infrastructure at its other tour events and their grass-court technology research projects alongside the All England Club could also provide a possible solution should they be charged with hosting a significant mixed event before Wimbledon in the future.