What is Walkover in Tennis – What does walkover mean in tennis betting [2024] 🎾

Definition: Walkover (tennis) (n) – a player who automatically advances to the next round without playing because their opponent is ill, injured, or subject to a code of conduct penalty.

A walkover in tennis happens when a player advances to the next round without having to play because their opponent is ill, wounded, or has received a code of conduct penalty.

On the surface, it appears to be a straightforward concept. However, there are some small differences in how the ATP, WTA, and other organizations, such as the USTA, handle walkovers that are important to know.

I’ll go through all you need to know about walkovers in tennis, from ranking points to prize money, as well as similarities to comparable phrases like retirement, default, and withdrawals. I’ll even go over a few intriguing statistics on the subject.

walkover in tennis

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Walkover in Tennis – Meaning

Let’s take a look at some of the definitions from the most important tennis governing bodies. We will include the ATP, WTA, USTA, and LTA, to get a better understanding of walkovers.


The ATP and WTA are the men’s and women’s professional tennis governing bodies. A walkover is defined by the ATP in section ten of their official rulebook as postponed because:

  1. a) the losing player was sick or hurt; or
  2. b) the losing player was subjected to Code of Conduct sanctions before the first serve of the match was struck, or was otherwise not authorized to play by the ATP or tournament supervisor.”

The WTA has a nearly identical definition. A walkover is defined in Appendix K of the WTA regulations as:

“The match was postponed because:”

  1. a) the losing player was sick or hurt; or
  2. b) the losing player was subjected to Code of Conduct sanctions before the first serve of the match was struck, or was otherwise not permitted to play by a WTA or Tournament official.”

The sole distinction is that the ATP uses the term ‘tournament Supervisor,’ whilst the WTA uses the term ‘tournament official.’

There are just three situations in which a tournament will offer a player a walkover in tennis.

  1. Illness

2. Injury

3. Penalty

It’s worth mentioning that a walkover is no longer counted if a player does not compete for any other reason. 

Walkover in Tennis – USTA (United States Tennis Association)

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the country’s governing body for tennis. They have a rulebook, similar to the ATP and WTA, that tennis players and event organizers utilize to guarantee that rules and regulations are consistent between matches.

In Part 3 – USTA Regulations of their Friend at Court manual, the USTA defines a walkover as follows:

“A walkover occurs when an administrative error occurs or when a player decides not to participate in an event due to injury, illness, or personal reasons.

The definition is comparable to those of the ATP and WTA, as you can see. They do, however, adjust for administrative errors that are more common at lower levels of the sport.

Furthermore, they allow for personal emergencies or circumstances that would compel players to miss a game, such as a family death.

It’s worth noting that the ATP and WTA would consider this a walkover. It’s like Naomi Osaka did in 2021 when she chose not to compete in the second round of the French Open.

Walkover in Tennis – LTA (Lawn Tennis Association)

The LTA, like the USTA, is the governing body of tennis in the United Kingdom. A walkover is defined in Appendix 1 of their manual as:

“A match handed to a player whose opponent does not participate in the game.” A match begins when the first serve of the opening point is struck, for the avoidance of doubt.”

This is by far the most inclusive definition. Injury and illness are the most common causes for a walkover, according to the LTA’s competition criteria.

Tennis is a national sport in Australia.

Although there is no exact definition in Tennis Australia’s official publications on the rules and regulations for tennis, there is one in their website’s glossary. They define a walkover as follows:

“When a player’s opponent concedes a match before it begins, usually due to injury or illness,” says Wikipedia.

The definition is similar to that of the previous definitions. Hopefully, seeing how different organizations describe a walkover gives you a better understanding of the term’s meaning.


We can date the use of the term “walkover” back to 1829, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Despite its widespread use in today’s sports, the phrase has its origins in horseracing. “The word comes from horse racing in the United Kingdom, where an entrant in a one-horse race run under Jockey Club rules must at least “walk over” the course before being declared the winner,” according to Wikipedia.

In the men’s 400 meters walkover, Wyndham Halswelle earned an Olympic gold medal in 1908. Because his competitors declined to compete, he had no choice but to jog to victory.

Similarly, athletes in the 1920 Olympic games were dispersed among 16 different yacht classes. As a result, six competitors won gold by sailing the course without having to compete against anyone else.

Tennis and a slew of other sports adopted the term, which basically refers to an unopposed victory.


Despite the fact that the principle is simple, the rules or repercussions of a walkover are equally significant, therefore I’ll go over them separately.

Walkover in Tennis – Winning vs. Losing

One of the most common misconceptions about walkovers is whether they are deemed a win or a loss for either player.

Because the event didn’t happen, it’s neither a match win nor a loss, hence each player’s record remains unchanged.

The topic of winning streaks is one where there is some disagreement. Consider the following scenario:

A player has ten wins in a row.

They get a walkover for their tenth match.

They go on to win 10 more games before losing.

Some argue that this should be considered a 21-match winning run, but it isn’t. Although the walkover has no bearing on the winning streak, it does not count as a win. Therefore, the winning streak now stands at 20.

Walkover in Tennis – Points for Ranking

When it comes to walkovers and ranking points, things get a little more complicated, because the ATP and WTA have different rules.

“Winners of “walkover” / “no match” matches get points… as if the match had been played,” according to section ten of the ATP rulebook.

ATP players who receive walkovers earn ranking points for progressing to the following round despite losing their match.

The WTA operates in a slightly different manner. They discuss a few such scenarios in section eight of their regulation.

If a player or team receives a walkover in the first round and no Alternate or Lucky Loser is available to fill the position, the player or team will receive ranking points from the round before her/his elimination.

Also, if a player or team receives a walkover in a subsequent round without having yet played a match, the player or team will be awarded ranking points from the round prior to their elimination.

If a player or team receives a walkover after playing and winning a match in any round other than the first, the player or team will receive ranking points for that round.

In essence, a player who receives a walkover in the first round or a future round without playing a match does not completely reap the rewards of making it to the following round due to the walkover.

They do, however, gain ranking points for progressing to the following round if they have played and won a match.

In general, the WTA’s policy to giving ranking points for a walkover is more stringent than the ATP’s.

Walkover in Tennis – Monetary Award

Things are more transparent now, and the ATP and WTA are on the same page when it comes to prize money and walkovers.

Section three of the ATP’s rulebook reads as follows:

“Prize money will only be given out for matches that are actually played.” If a final cannot be held, each finalist will be awarded a runner-up reward. A match is played for the purposes of this section when it is won as a consequence of a retirement, default, walkover, or no show.”

The WTA takes a similar stance:

“Any player or team receiving a walkover in any round will be awarded prize money for that round.”

Although walkovers aren’t common, they do offer tennis players with a quick buck, which I’m sure they appreciate.

Walkover in Tennis – Additional Regulations

In the ATP rulebook, there’s another reference to walkovers that’s a little more obscure. This is what section eight says:

“All tournament finalists must attend and participate in the post-match celebrations, unless the tournament Doctor determines that he is physically unable to do so.” This includes retirements as well as finals that were postponed due to a walkover.”

For example, unless the tournament doctor gives them a pass, a player who reaches the finals of an event must participate in post-match interviews, even if he or she was unable to participate due to injury or illness.

Final Thoughts

On the ATP and WTA tours, walkovers occur at a similar frequency. This happens because a tennis player is ill or injured. I hope you found what I’ve covered helpful in understanding what a walkover is and how it differs from some related tennis vocabulary, whether you’re learning about it for the first time or looking for further information.


Michael Adams
Experienced writer in iGaming Industry. Worked for the big companies in the industry, now I took the challenge to grow with a new company and a new website. The future is bright and I am happy to be part of it!