Andy Murray joins Roger Federer in backing ATP and WTA merger
Murray has long been a champion of equality, becoming the first top male player, for example, to employ a female coach.
“I think we have a very unique sport in the sense that we have the men and women competing in the biggest competitions together. It doesn’t really happen in any of the other world sports and I see that as a big positive. We have equal prices at events which I think are fantastic and very attractive to sponsors, to the public.
“We have about a 50/50 kind of audience between men and women, which is still rare in all sports and I think all of these things are things that we should celebrate in sport.
“Sometimes they are not and there is a lot of fighting going on with these things and I don’t think that should be the case. There will obviously be problems with a merger too, but that’s I think that it’s a step in the right direction to start these conversations. ”
It was King who sought to reunite with men almost 50 years ago, which Murray was quick to report. But when the men declined, King founded the WTA tour.
She was “delighted” with Federer’s public statement because “when the best male players talk about it, people listen.” The 76-year-old American spoke with the Swiss, who is part of the ATP players’ council alongside Nadal and, among others, the other member of the Big Four, Novak Djokovic.
“We can grow,” said King. “But what we have to understand is that we have to stay together as a sport, because we don’t compete in our sport as many tennis players think. We have to compete with other entertainment and others sports. ”
“I don’t think people realize that we are in this business. And so I think it is very important that we are together, that we are not an acquisition. The WTA would not be an acquisition. We would be a full partner in this drive to make our sport better and more precious.
“Can you imagine how strong we could be if we negotiate with one voice? Ka-ching.”
Indeed, a combined tour would likely strengthen the negotiating position of players at a time when they are seeking a larger share of tennis revenues, especially for lower-ranking players and during Grand Slam tournaments.
The current suspension of tours due to the virus has given ATP and WTA more time than ever to discuss issues, while new ATP president Andrea Gaudenzi seems determined to collaborate with the WTA.
“The recent cooperation between the governing bodies has only strengthened my belief that unified sport is the surest way to maximize our potential and provide an optimal experience for fans on-site, on television and online,” Gaudenzi said in a statement sent to CNN months ago.
However, it stopped at this point to call for an official merger.
WTA President and CEO Steve Simon added in a statement: “I have long declared that we are at our best as a sport when we can work together, and the past few weeks have highlighted this fact. ”
He was always a fan, for example, of mixed events.
But while Murray, Nadal, and Federer are on board, the Scotsman revealed that some of his ATP peers were not concerned about gender equality.
Some disgruntled male players
The 32-year-old has said in the past that there have been price increases for men and women – and that women have the same amount as men – some of his fellow players have opposed it.
“I have spoken to some of the male players who were unhappy because the prize money was equal,” he said. “And I said, ‘Well, would you prefer there be no increase at all? You know?’ They said, “Yes, actually.”
“It’s a kind of mentality that you work with in these discussions where someone prefers to make less money so as not to be on an equal footing with certain players, so there will be challenges.”
He said it was imperative that more women be involved in the decision-making process.
“When it comes to this type of key decision-maker in tennis right now, almost all of them are men and I think that when these discussions take place, it is very important not only to see this fusion through the eyes of a man and to bring more women into the decision, to take positions so that everyone’s voice is heard and protected in the discussions, “said Murray.
“And if that happens, we have huge potential as a sport – I already think it’s a very special sport because of what we already have – (make it) even better.”