Roger Federer floats idea of one governing body for tennis
Swiss player calls for merger between men’s ATP Tour and women’s WTA as foot soldiers take strain
Paris — Roger Federer called on Wednesday for a merger between the men’s ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women’s circuit, as tennis wades through a lengthy coronavirus shutdown with lower-level professionals in deep financial crisis.
The tennis season was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the hiatus will continue at least until mid-July, depriving lower-level players, who depend solely on tournament winnings, of the chance to earn a living.
“Just wondering … am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men’s and women’s tennis to be united and come together as one,” the winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles said on Twitter.
“I am picturing a merger between the WTA and ATP.
“I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the 2 governing bodies [ATP and WTA] that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours …”
Tennis enjoys a huge worldwide following but its governance remains fractious with as many as seven associations running different parts of the game.
Besides the ATP and the WTA Tours, the sport is also controlled by the International Tennis Federation and the boards of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
“It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories,” the 38-year-old Swiss said.
“It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time. These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with two weakened bodies or one stronger body.”
Federer’s comments on Twitter were “liked” by both men and women players within minutes.
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