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WTA weighs changing ‘frozen’ COVID-19 rankings

Qatar Total Open 2021 - Day Four

DOHA, QATAR - MARCH 04: A detailed view of the racquets of Garbine Muguruza of Spain and Maria Sakkari of Greece as they interact at the net after their Quarter-Final singles match during Day Four of the Qatar Total Open 2021 at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex on March 04, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The women’s professional tennis tour is considering whether to make changes to its “frozen” ranking system adopted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press the tour is “currently reviewing if any further adjustments to the rankings process will be made.”

As things stand, the WTA is allowing players to count the points from their top 16 tournament results since March 2019. That allows someone such as No. 1 Ash Barty to avoid being penalized for sitting out most of 2020 after the COVID-19 outbreak took hold.

Barty, for example, did not defend her 2019 title at the French Open in October, but still gets credit for the previous year’s championship.

The ATP announced that it is tweaking its rankings rules with an eye to restoring the regular 52-week system fully by August 2022. The men’s tour also said it will add about $5 million to prize money being offered between now and June at some smaller tournaments by increasing payouts that had been cut to 50% because of the pandemic.

As for WTA prize money, Simon said in his statement: “In addition to the over $3 million in relief we provided to players in 2020, the WTA has assisted both players and tournaments by subsidizing 100% of the onsite prize money in 2021 through the utilization of broadcast revenues, bonus pool re-allocations and central organizational funding as we feel very strongly in supporting both of our members during these challenging times.”