Home » Queen’s to host new pre-Wimbledon women’s tennis event as Birmingham loses out

Queen’s to host new pre-Wimbledon women’s tennis event as Birmingham loses out

The Queen’s Club will host a professional women’s tennis tournament for the first time in more than 50 years – but at the expense of a similar event in Birmingham.

Queen’s has been a men-only event since 1973 but from 2025 will start a week earlier and last a fortnight, with the women following immediately after the French Open.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has had to rejig its calendar to accommodate it, with the Birmingham Classic downgraded from a WTA 250 event to a Challenger-level tournament.

The West Midlands event will now feature men as well as women, but the clash with Roland Garros and reduced prize money means it is unlikely to attract the same calibre of names as before: seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams, French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, US Open champion Sam Stosur and two-time Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur have all played in recent years.

Chris Pollard, director of major events for the LTA, said: “We think the mix of men and women playing there will actually strengthen the proposition such that we can continue to grow that tournament, as indeed it has grown up over the last six years.”

The new, smaller event in Birmingham will take the place in the calendar vacated by the Surbiton Trophy, which will be terminated after 2024, with the LTA hoping those who previously played in south-west London will instead choose the Midlands to start their grass-court preparations for Wimbledon.

“We’ve had the likes of Andy Murray, who won Surbiton last year and Dan Evans is a recent winner of that Surbiton tournament too,” Pollard added.

At Queen’s, concerns have also been expressed by the men’s professional tour (ATP) over the state of the grass courts, which are usually pristine when the men’s event starts. Instead, one of the smallest venues of its type will have to withstand a week of wear before the championships start.

The LTA insists the ATP has been involved in discussions for the last year and is on board with the schedule changes – but with an agreement to revisit the arrangement after a year. Pollard said: “They’ve given the green light for the tournament to take place in 2025 and we continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them in respect of the success of the 2025 tournament.

“We have undertaken a lot of detailed research and planning around how the site works for men and women and we remain absolutely confident that we’ll not just meet, but exceed all of the men’s playing standards through the second of the two weeks of tournaments there. “We remain very confident that it will be a permanent change.”

TOPSHOT - Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates with the trophy after winning against Australia's Alex de Minaur at the end of their men's singles final match at the Cinch ATP tennis Championships at Queen's Club in west London on June 25, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Carlos Alcaraz is the reigning Queen’s champion (Photo: AFP)

Queen’s only uses three match courts, one of which has virtually no spectator seating, and nine practice courts, but sources say the extra load will be more of an aesthetic than safety issue.

“The courts are as good as Wimbledon,” one source with expert knowledge of Britain’s two best grass-court venues tells i.

“It shouldn’t affect playability at all throughout the court, it will just mean the baseline will be slaughtered at the end of it all. And for the start of the men’s tournament, it will have a fair bit of wear.”

Queen’s is a player favourite on the men’s tour, having been voted 500-level tournament of the year in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2022 and 2023.