Women's Sport: Billie Jean King supports "no-brainer" decision to allow coaches to signal during matches

Billie Jean King has spoken out on what she calls a “no brainer” decision to allow coaches to signal to players on-court.

King believes that allowing coaches to provide in-match information through signals would add more interest and bring more media attention to the sport.

The 12 time Grand Slam singles title holder said she had “always been for it” and believes that the upcoming WTA trial of on-court coaching in the Dubai Duty-Free Championship will be a great move for tennis.

“Look at baseball. They have a first-base coach and a third-base coach, the coaches are giving all these signals, squeezing their nose or whatever and making all these signals. It’s fascinating for people.

“They make documentaries on these coaches. It’s just a story to promote our sport and anything we can do to promote it is a good thing, it’s a no-brainer.”

Historically, players have been able to request one on-court visit from coaches per set during WTA Tour matches and during Grand Slams no communication is allowed whatsoever. If players violate this rule during Grand Slam matches they receive code violations from umpires.

This famously occurred during Serena Williams’ clash with Naomi Osaka during the 2018 US Open final when Williams disputed the umpires’ ruling she had communicated with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Following the match, Mouratoglou said he had, in fact, been coaching but said that coaching occurs often during Grand Slam matches.

“I was coaching but I don’t think she looked at me,” he said. “Sash [Osaka’s coach Sascha Bajin] was coaching as well. Everybody does it.”

King wants coaches to be part of “the narrative”

Billie Jean King believes that tennis is late to the party when it comes to including coaches in the “narrative” of the sport and that on-court coaching could change this.

“We want more people to go into coaching, and you have to see it to be it. If they are sitting up in the stands no one knows who they are.” the 76-year-old said.

“Let’s just look at the sports in the United States. They talk about the coaches in college and pro sports as much as they talk about the players. We don’t do that for our sport and we are losing out on column inches, and time and media.”

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