27 January 2020

Outbursts from top tennis players, including Serena Williams, could reduce as WTA Tour agrees trial period for coaching from the stands

The WTA have confirmed they will begin a trial period allowing coaching from the stands, meaning players will not be penalised for communicating with their box.

Serena Williams was famously punished at the 2018 US Open final for receiving 'hand signals' from her coach Patrick Mouratoglou during her defeat to Naomi Osaka 

But the WTA have now released a statement that said: "The new trial will allow coaches to coach their player in the form they are currently coaching from the box without getting penalised."

They said the change had been introduced because it is 'difficult to regulate' the existing rules and on-court coaching is creeping ever more into the game.

However, they emphasised that this will not mean more coaching than currently exists, just that it is no longer against the rules and will therefore not be punished.

A spokesperson for the WTA said: "Whether it's verbal words of encouragement or [a] few words when their player is on the same side of the court to any hand signals, such as coaching as it takes place now from the box will be allowed."

Following Serena's US Open incident, Mouratoglou publicly declared that he thought coaching from the stands would 'help the popularity of the sport'.

Meanwhile, Simona Halep's coach Darren Cahill was also on board with the idea, saying: "I'm in for it. I'm big on tradition. I'm old. So I love the whole tradition of tennis and the one-on-one and problem-solving and what you're trying to do. But I think we're evolving as a sport."

He acknowledged that the change should not be implemented at the four Grand Slams, but said it is important for the WTA and ATP Tours if they are hoping to evolve.

The WTA Tour will continue to allow on-court coaching, which was introduced in 2008, and allows players to call coaches to the court for a conversation once per set.

The trial period for new coaching from the stands rulings will start at the Dubai Duty Free Championships and the Hungarian Open in February and continue throughout all 2020 WTA Premier and international events.

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