The WTA Ranking System is a point-based system used to determine the ranking of women's tennis players. The system is based on (1) how well you play, (2) where you're playing, and (3) who you're playing when you play well. For example, beating #1 player in the world in the finals of the U.S. Open
is worth more than, say, beating a nobody in the first round of a minor tournament
The tournaments on the WTA Tour are broken down into different levels. The four Grand Slams are the highest level, followed by the year-end Chase Championships. After that, the tournaments are tiered based on prestige - higher tiers are worth more points. And of course, the further you go in each tournament, the more points you receive. The following chart is used to determine "round points".
Tier Win Final Semi QF R16 R32 R64
Grand Slam 530 364 234 130 72 44 26
Chase Champ 390 273 175 97 54
Tier I 260 182 117 65 36 22 13
Tier II 200 140 90 50 26 14
Tier III 140 98 63 35 18 10
Tier IV-A 110 77 50 27 14
Tier IV-B 80 56 36 20 10 6
A player who loses in the first round always receives one point. Exceptions to this are Grand Slams, which award two points for a first round loss, and the Chase Championships, which invite only the top 16 players on the WTA, and which award 54 points for a first round loss.
While you receive only one round points score for each tournament, WTA players are awarded quality points for each and every opponent they beat, as long as that player is ranked in the top 500. The following chart is used to compute quality points...
Quality points are doubled for Grand Slam events.
For the horny young males out there, let's pretend that Anna Kournikova has actually won a tournament for the first time in her career. Let's make it the German Open, a Tier I event. In doing so, she beat, oh, let's say Amanda Coutzer, Julie Halard-Decugis, Denisa Chladkova, Anna Smashnova, Dominique Van Roost, and Sabine Appelmans. For winning the Tier I event, she gets 260 points. Based on her opponents ranking, she gets an additional 35, 23, 10, 10, 35, and 15 points. Add it all together, and she gets 388 points. She's moving right up the rankings, right? Not so fast...
The ranking system only takes the best 18 tournaments over the last full year. The reasoning behind this is that it creates a buffer by allowing a player to play horribly for a few tournaments without completely destroying their ranking. By the same token, the number is high enough to keep players from skipping tournaments on one particular surface, like Thomas Muster did a few years back on the ATP Tour. The best 18 tournaments are added together for a grand total. The player with the highest total is declared #1. If a player hasn't played in 18 tournaments in the past year, the tournaments they have played in are added together to determine their ranking.