What Is a Walkover In Tennis? [A to Z Discussion]

Have you ever seen a tennis match where a player goes to the next level without hitting the ball? This is a common term in tennis and is referred to as a “walkover.” While not so common at managerial levels, it can happen for any reason, and fans are usually caught off-guard.

This article will highlight the concept of walkovers by describing what is a walkover in tennis, the causes of walkovers. Also you will learn the impacts that walkovers have on the sport.

Understanding what is a walkover in tennis

A walkover refers to a situation whereby a player has to withdraw from a match before the game begins. Instead of an actual match played on the court, the player who is present and prepared to play officially loses the opponent. It is declared the winner by default. However,  a walkover can be granted under certain circumstances, including:

  • The opposing player is injured or is unwell and cannot play the match.
  • One of the players is a no-show and fails to attend the court for the pre-scheduled match.
  • When a player is disqualified or decides to withdraw his participation from the event.

In these circumstances, the tournament organizers will award a ‘walk-over’ win to the player willing to take the court. It lets the tournament move forward and take that player into the next round of the competition without necessarily having to play a game.

Walkover In Tennis

How common are walkovers in professional tennis?

Despite the probability being relatively low, walkovers do take place occasionally at ATP and WTA events. Exceptionally, walkovers happen at the Grand Slam events since participants give major importance to their health and fitness before heading for tennis majors.

However, in the early scenes of competitions, or at smaller tournaments, some players are still rounding into form. Then walkovers may be seen more often due to factors such as minor injuries or illnesses that force players to withdraw at the last minute. The Challenger/ITF tours also feature relatively more walkovers at the lower-level events.

What is a Walkover in Tennis Betting?

You might also like to know what is a walkover in tennis betting, after knowing in tennis what is a walkover, right? In tennis betting, the term ‘walkover’ has particular significance. When a walkover is issued, it indicates all bets that are made in a specific fight are voids.

In case any player pulls out of a match and will not be able to play due to an injury or an illness or through disqualification, all bets. It includes money line, game spread, over/under, and prop bets for that particular match, become null and invalid. For bettors who had action on the walkover match, they just got their swagger back. Their stake back to the account balance.

For instance, if Roger Federer was defaulted out of his opening round at Wimbledon, any wagers placed on him or his opponent for that round would be void. The money would be returned to the bettor. As far as betting goes, it is considered a “no action” event.

Walkovers can be pretty unfair to the bettors who staked their hard-earned money on anything, but the latter cannot be graded when the event does not happen at all by the sportsbooks’ policy. Everyone who is into tennis betting should learn about walkover rules, as they are essential.


Walkover_In_Tennis Batting

Why Will You Use Walkover?

The primary cause of getting a walkover is when some of the players cannot make it to the court due to something like an injury or being sick. Maybe it can be a simple problem, such as the flu or food poisoning. It may also be something more complicated, like a twist in the ankle or muscle strain that prevents the person from playing.

Even though the situation lets the player ‘‘tough it out,” tournament officials and training staff encourage him or her to take a walkover. One cannot underestimate the risk a player has whenever he or she steps on the tennis court to play the game.

In other cases, a walkover can be declared reasonable because the opposing player does not show up to the match at all. They might reach the tournament late due to flight mishaps, or in a few cases, they fail to show up on time without adequate notice to the management.

Last but not least, a walkover can happen when one participant has been disqualified from the tournament for some misconduct. Or, it is for the violation of the tournament’s rules and regulations. They may also decide to pull out from the event based on their private reasons after the event has started.

Implications of a Walkover

In regard to a player who received a walkover victory, it prompted them to the next round of the tournament without having to compete physically. Since the official record will reflect a win or a loss, they will get a win even when they did not step onto the court to play.

However, excessive walkovers may also begin to negatively impact in terms of rating change if the player appears to struggle with some injuries/illness frequently. Or, it is always delayed in arriving for a tournament. It is assumed that players, in particular, are professional and that they exert all effort to be ready for the respective events.

From a tournament’s perspective, no one desires to give a walkover. This can disappoint fans who purchased tickets expecting to see a particular match take place. It can also affect the scheduling and timetable that goes into ensuring an event runs smoothly.

Common Etiquette and Protocols

Sportsmanship is key. In cases a player has assumed they cannot make it to competition or is likely to withdraw due to injury, they are expected to inform the officials of the tournament. This way, the walkover can be officially granted and arranged.

Many grand prix events hold stringent policies and standards for dealing with walkovers to eliminate no-show situations. Things like:

  • Setting more or less realistic deadlines for notifications of withdrawal
  • Maintaining alternate players on standby in order to potentially fill the spot
  • The use of policy regarding giving out fines or penalties in the event of a no-show

Strict adherence to communication etiquette ensures that interruptions for tournaments are limited anytime walkovers happen.

Handling Walkovers in Tennis Tournaments

Let’s know the details of handling the issue:

Handling Walkovers in Tennis Tournaments

Tournament director’s role

When granting a walkover, tournament directors and officials are usually left with no option. They consider all the latest information available in the public domain and decide the walkover. They must determine whether the reason for the withdrawal is legitimate and entitles a competitor to a walkover.

Communication protocols

Clear communication is also critical – both with the players to inform them of the final decision. They explain to the television broadcasters, the fans, and the media in case of a change of the schedule.

Larger tournaments have Action Plan policies that elaborate the odds/scenarios. Here, walkovers would or would not be allowed. In general, it has to be driven by solid organizational leadership and a prompt decision-making process. 

Prevention and Mitigation Strategies

Here are some prevention and mitigation strategies you should know:

Player fitness and injury prevention strategies:

To reduce instances of walkovers, a player should ensure she or he does everything possible to avoid injuries. He/she needs to ensure  limbs used in playing the racket. It is essential to avoid injuries in any other way that may cause the player to miss the next tournament. This involves:

  •       Maintaining a dedicated fitness, conditioning, and recovery regimen to stay healthy
  •       Building adequate rest, travel, and practice days into their schedule
  •       Proactively managing any niggling injuries with their medical/training staff
  •       Withdrawing from tournaments early if they aren’t tournament-ready

Tournament scheduling and flexibility to avoid walkovers:

In tournaments, reducing the possibility of walkovers would mean looking into the overall scheduling as a whole to avoid the occurrence of such incidents. This could involve:

  • Building in official off-days during the event schedule
  • Allowing for make-up days in case of weather delays
  • Spacing out match times sufficiently to avoid overbooking courts
  • Not scheduling players for multiple matches per day whenever possible

Even in the best-case scenario where no walkovers had taken place, it means certain flexibility has to be applied. The approval of clear tournament policies and communication plans also helps mitigate possible confusion.

Walkover v/s retirement in tennis: Know the difference

It’s essential to understand the difference between a walkover and a retirement during a tennis match. A retirement occurs when a particular game is on, and a specific player is unable to proceed with competing due to an injury/Illness.

The difference between the two is, in the case of retirement, the match started with players on the tennis court. Nevertheless, a walkover is defined as a victory awarded before the duo has a chance to compete on the field.

 What are the Most Famous Walkovers in Tennis History?

While not as memorable as epic matches, there have been a handful of highly-publicized walkovers at critical events over the years:

Most Famous Walkovers in Tennis History

  • Wimbledon 2018 Semifinals – For an even bigger surprise, Rafael Nadal could not even make it to his semifinal match against Novak Djokovic. It’s because of a knee injury that has been a long-standing problem for the second seed. It deprived fans of an opportunity to watch a blockbuster clash between two legendary players.
  • 2011 US Open Final – In what has to rank as one of the hardest-fought runs through the tournament, Serena Williams had to leave for hospital and limped over to Sam Stosur. It was before a single ball was hit in the women’s final with acute anemia. Stosur broke through and won her first Grand Slam title.
  • 1995 French Open Final – The walkover Royal Ahold Versus Richard Krajicek was the most memorable one. Perhaps it is one of the most controversial that ever occurred in the French Open Final 1995. Chang had received a lot of jeers and boos fully tastelessly from fans during the tournament. He decided to withdraw from the final match – again through personal grounds – against Muster, citing personal reasons.

In other majors, some celebrity walkovers were witnessed at year-end championship events. For instance, the ATP finals season-ending tournament in which some top players withdrew from the competition. It was due to fitness, injury, or body tiredness late in the season. It is disappointing to see two great players or teams fight it out, only to find out that the match cannot take place.


What is considered a valid reason for a walkover in tennis?

The only acceptable circumstances that allow the contestant to receive a walkover are injury, sickness, or any other circumstance. It might be a disadvantage for the player to advance on the court. Sometimes officials will decide on the case. But in most instances, they shall lean towards a walkover if the health conditions or other circumstances prevented the player from proceeding. 

Just claiming that the team was simply having an off day or was exhausted would not be deemed legal grounds. These reasons are useful and offering medical records could help support a walkover situation.

Do players receive any prize money or ranking points for a walkover win?

In most cases, when a player gets awarded a walkover, they do not get paid a single dime as winnings. They are simply glad to go to the next round without even having to sweat on the field. But from an official match result, it will be considered in the pair’s ranking list. 

Also, points will be earned in correspondence to that particular round. Thus, there are no financial incentives. The advantage is the ability to retain their tournament trajectory and get points for a ranking.

In what situations and to whom do players apply for a walkover?

If a player is sure that they cannot play the next match. Then appropriate procedures include informing the tournament director as per their procedure and guidelines on how to do this in writing. 

This makes it possible to arrange another walkover to be official rather than having someone make a walkover at the last minute. There are no excuses for a player to take a walkover, and every effort should be made, if physically possible, to go out and start the match.

How do walkovers impact tournament scheduling and planning?

Walkovers are not very conducive when the overall running of the tournament is of consideration. They cause drastic changes when not anticipated. Some examples of items that may have to be changed at the last moment are schedules, court bookings, broadcast timings, etc. 

In most significant events, one is always prepared for a walkover and gets policies to handle the aspect, for instance, where SlotING in “lucky losers” to fill in the vacancies within the draw.

Are there any famous examples of controversial walkovers?

There was not much controversy over players refusing to play or even walking over matches at grand slam events. But there have been a few cases where this occurred. These are the two examples: Michael Chang could not perform a run in the 1995 French Open final. Further, Serena Williams could not take her place at the 2011 US Open final due to illness. As much as one may find it rather disappointing, all such ones illustrate that walkovers protect the welfare and health of the players as much as the priority is concerned.


A walkover in tennis is not the most fascinating occurrence in tennis. It is equally important for the players, the spectators, sports events, and even betting on the events to understand what is a walkover in tennis. The walkovers also assist the players or occasionally, performance cares more about health than the match wins. They also allow for a system whereby an athlete’s injury will not be aggravated. It ensures the athlete is fit enough to compete before he/she is put on the field.

Although fans get temporarily disappointed, they will have to wait a few matches longer to catch another show. Avoiding an accident may just mean enjoying their favorite stars for many more years to come. If you want to know about the best food Habit for Tennis Player then you can read This Blog about Tennis Nutrition.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Social Media

Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.