Seeking rules consistency, WTA to allow coaching from stands in trial

Seeking rules consistency, WTA to allow coaching from stands in trial

The new coaching policy will begin the week of February and be implemented across all Premier and International tournaments.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The WTA is going to test out allowing coaching from the stands at non-Grand Slam tournaments for the rest of this season.

The tour said Monday that the change amounts to letting coaches offer the sort of hand signals and simple instructions that happen currently even though they have been against the rules — but rarely penalized.

"The premise around this trial is that we feel coaching is taking place already from the box," WTA spokeswoman Amy Binder said, "and, as it's difficult to regulate, this allows for consistency in rules across all matches."

She said the new coaching policy will begin the week of Feb. 17 and be used at all WTA Premier and International tournaments.

Coaches now can say a "few words when their player is on the same side of the court," Binder said.

What the WTA doesn't want is more coaching from the stands than is done now. On-court coaching during breaks in the action will continue, where a coach goes down to the sideline for a conversation with her or his player.

The Grand Slam tournaments do not allow any coaching during matches for men or women, and the ATP doesn't allow any coaching at any of its events.

The issue came to the forefront at the 2018 U.S. Open, when Serena Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, acknowledged trying to send her a signal during the final.