Tennis remains a convoluted sport, with the grand slams (run by their own boards) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) also in play. It’s not always seamless, with the ATP Cup’s shared arrangement with the WTA’s Brisbane International generating friction earlier in the year as the women were relegated to outside courts.
“It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories,” Federer 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 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body.”
Federer’s comments come amid a cry for help for players that are now without an income with tours and tournaments frozen. The various tours and bodies have banded together to provide some income relief but players like Australia’s John Millman have asked why it’s taken so long to address the warped levels of lop-sided prizemoney in the sport.
Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley agreed with Federer, believing an alliance could help solve the pay disparity between the sport’s rich and poor.
“So is there a way where you bring those seven governing bodies together and you find a solution for a better a future, a future that puts more revenue into the system because the value’s higher when combining the men and the women,” Tiley told AAP.
“There’s an opportunity to leverage off the asset of each other and success of each other. The objective of global sport should be ensuring that the lower-ranked players get paid more money, that there’s more players making a living out of the game.
“So there has to be some sort of redistribution of the wealth or more revenue in the system – and more revenue in the system comes from aggregation and joining together.”
ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said tennis now had a “big opportunity” to create unity while his WTA counterpart Steve Simon said the WTA had been in regular dialogue with the ATP ahead of any return to competition and what shape that may take.
“I have long stated that we are at our best as a sport when we can work together, and the recent weeks have highlighted that fact,” he said in a statement.
Billie Jean King was also on board, as was fellow great Rafael Nadal, another player that wants one governing body to rule them all when it comes to regular tour tennis.
“Hey @rogerfederer as you know per our discussions I completely agree that it would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men’s and women’s tennis in one only organisation,” he said.
Kyrgios, on the other hand, said he needed more convincing on why the tours should be merged and what consultation would take place if it was to move forward.
“Did anyone ask the majority of the ATP what they think about merging with the WTA and how it is good for us?” Kyrgios wrote on twitter.
Like many sports, tennis has used its enforced absence as a means to discuss what it might look like on the other side of COVID-19 and whether the immense levels of prizemoney that lavish the top of the sport are fair or even sustainable.
– with Reuters, AAP