A wildcard (WC) in professional tennis is a player who gains a direct access into the tournament in what would otherwise would have been impossible for him or her to enter the event. A professional tennis tournament works in a knockout format, where a certain number of players are placed in the main draw depending on the stature of the event that is decided by the ranking points it has to offer. Certain slots in the main draw are reserved for the ones that cannot make a direct entry into the main draw. These slots are filled by qualifiers, wildcards and lucky losers.
Selection of WC
Qualifiers are players who remained undefeated in the two or three matches they played in the qualifying draw of the event which was played before the commencement of the main draw matches. The wildcards are the ones that are either allowed to play in the qualifying or main draw, which is solely the decision of the tournament organizers. These players are decided by the organizers on the following factors:
- Recent notable performances
- Previous history in that tournament
- A former high-ranked player making a comeback after an injury layoff
- A player belonging from the host nation
Number of WC
At the slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open), 8 players are offered wildcards. Except Wimbledon, the other three slams can nominate one wildcard to the other two slams. In the remaining tiers of professional tennis, the organizers can place 3 to 5 wildcard entrants. If a player does not accept the wildcard, then a player who lost in the last round of the qualifying draw is preferred.
Some of the most notable victories of wildcard entrants in recent history are:
- 2001 – Wimbledon – Goran Ivanisevic (Champion)
- 2009 – US Open – Kim Clijsters (Champion)
- 2019 – Indian Wells – Bianca Andreescu (Champion)