Few topics of late have been more controversial on the women’s tour than wildcards.
You can thank Maria Sharapova and WTA tournament directors for that. The Russian, unranked when she embarked on her comeback from a doping ban in late April, had, prior to her return, been guaranteed main draw wildcards into events in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome.
Rome then decided not to award a wildcard to local player Francesca Schiavone, despite 2010 Roland Garros winner playing in her last year on tour before retirement.
While this may have been disheartening for Schiavone and her legions of fans, she hasn’t gone wanting elsewhere. In fact, in the past 12 months, Schiavone received more main-draw wildcards than any other female player on tour.
That’s because, as a former Grand Slam champion, she qualifies as a “top-20 wild card” at WTA International-level events. All non-mandatory WTA events are given two top-20 wildcards to award to players – allowing top players to enter events at the eleventh hour even if they missed the entry deadline – yet the “past Grand Slam singles champion” criterion only applies to International-level tournaments.
Tennismash decided that, with WTA wildcards being such a hot topic at the moment, this would be the perfect time to run this investigation following a similar piece we ran on ATP wildcards in February.
For this research, we did not include the WTA Madrid tournament currently underway. Instead, we began with the 2016 edition of the Madrid tournament right through last week’s events in Prague and Rabat.
Below is a list of the biggest beneficiaries – including how many matches these players collectively won and lost at tournaments they were gifted main-draw entry.
|Francesca Schiavone||7||Rome (2016), Bucharest, Luxembourg, Hobart, Monterrey, Bogota, Rabat||11-6|
|Peng Shuai||5||Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing, Tianjin, Dubai||7-4|
|Bethanie Mattek-Sands||4||US Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston||4-4|
|Kayla Day||4||US Open, Australian Open, Indian Wells, Charleston||3-4|
|Ashleigh Barty||3||Brisbane, Australian Open, Miami||4-3|
|Daniela Hantuchova||3||Acapulco, Mallorca, Wimbledon||2-3|
|Francoise Abanda||3||Washington DC, Montreal, Quebec City||2-3|
|Tara Moore||3||Birmingham, Eastbourne, Wimbledon||1-3|
|Donna Vekic||3||Tashkent, Brisbane, Indian Wells||1-3|
|Jelena Jankovic||3||Gstaad, Florianopolis, Prague||1-3|
|Zheng Saisai||3||Wuhan, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur||1-3|
|Paula Badosa Gibert||3||Miami, Madrid, Mallorca||0-3|
|Belinda Bencic||3||Linz, Sydney, Biel||0-3|
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