The WTA's trial of expanded coaching rules, which allow for coaching from the stands, begins this week at the 2020 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Having already introduced on-court coaching in 2008 and the use of WTA-authorized tablets in 2015 (with SAP), the tour's trial of coaching from the player box will continue through the season at all WTA Premier and International events.
"We're also going to do some testing in the world of coaching, which is obviously a subject I've been vocal on for a long time," WTA CEO Steve Simon told WTA Insider. "We're going to be looking at testing some different things with it and dealing with the issues and hopefully eliminating the rule that you can't coach from the side of the court, which we know happens.
"Our on-court coaching will still continue, but we will be looking at how we allow coaching to continue from the Player Box without disrupting play and continuing to build on the story that coaching has in our sport."
Speaking at the Australian Open in January, WTA Coach and ESPN commentator Darren Cahill said, despite being a traditionalist, he welcomed the new rules allowing coaching from the box.
"I'm big on tradition," Cahill said in Melbourne. "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.
"We can see the 10-point tiebreaker here [at the Australian Open] at 6-All [in the final set]. Who would have thought 20 years ago we'd be playing a 10-point tiebreak? But I think it's one of the greatest things we have seen here at the Australian Open. These 10-point tiebreaks, that building of the suspense and the pressure."
"Grand Slams, put that aside, we have the four Grand Slams, that's fine. But for the ATP and the WTA, we need to evolve. And I think bringing coaching into those events is important. I know the WTA wants to do it, and they want to do it the right way. That's why Steve Simon is bringing this trial in.
"I think they can go further and do it more. If I was allowed to coach [from the box] today, you'd be surprised how little coaching the coaches will do if they're allowed to do it.
Cahill said the fact that coaching from the box has previously been prohibited is precisely why coaches were coaching from the box.
"The reason why probably a lot of it goes on at the moment is because you're not allowed to do it, so you're trying to get the sneaky coaching message across," Cahill said.
"But if you were allowed to do it, it's a simple one line: Hey, Simona, hold your line. Okay, that's coaching. But it's not over-the-top coaching. It's something really simple that can make a big difference to the players.
"We are trying to make the players better, we're trying to make the sport better, we're trying to make the coaches better.
"I think as an industry, a coaching industry in tennis, it's important that we do evolve and do this. I'm really for it. I think the WTA is doing a good thing."
Artemon Apostu-Efremov, Simona Halep's co-coach alongside Cahill, said he would like to see even more expansion in the future.
"I think it's a step that should have been taken quite a while ago, because coaches are part of the game. Mostly in all the sports you see coaches interact with the athletes.
"Obviously WTA introduced the on-court coaching, which it has its benefits also for the players, also for the viewers. I think it will go to the stage that the coach would be allowed to sit on the bench like in a Fed Cup or a Davis Cup.
"The coaches are almost non-stop with the players. So just to put them out of the game for the match when actually it matters the most, it's a little bit awkward.
"But I think it will be interesting, and we'll see how it evolves from there. Because it's not like the way they do it in qualies [at Slams] where you can come and chat on the side [of the court]. It's kind of in-between.
"So we'll see how it goes, and hopefully it will go the right way."