The WTA announced today that, in the near future, the first annual Tournament of Losers will be added to the tour's calendar. The event, which the WTA's chairwoman, Stacy Allaster, says will be held "somewhere in China," will feature players who make it to finals of tournaments but do not win them. There will be eight spots to fill in the round-robin tournament.
"We are excited about this innovation," Allaster said in making the announcement. "As the world leader in women's sports, the WTA wants to make certain that our most promising losers are given an opportunity to show their talents on an international stage."
"Of course," she added, "someone will win the tournament, but the runner-up will get an automatic wild card entry into the next year's Tournament of Losers."
Allaster said that a Tournament of Losers is needed because "fans want it."
The WTA has a colorful history of losers who went on to have interesting careers. "There is no greater inspiration," Allaster said, "than Francesca Schiavone, who lost nine finals before finally winning one, and she went on to win the French Open!" She added that the runner-up in that event was Samantha Stosur, who lost five finals before finally winning a tournament. Stosur, however--while she has six titles, including one at the U.S. Open--has lost an additional nine finals since winning her first one.
Wild cards will be awarded in the event that fewer than eight players without titles lose finals. Title-less players who lose multiple semifinals will be considered, as well as players who--despite having titles--continue to lose finals. According to Allaster, the wild card selection will also allow for the inclusion of a "Sloane Stephens-type situation."
As an added attraction, fans will vote for their choices to compete in an invitational tournament of Rising Headcases, to be held during the Tournament of Losers. Four young players who tend to go to pieces when they play big matches will be selected by tennis fans all over the world.