October 21, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Andy Murray joined Roger Federer in supporting the ATP and WTA mergers

Andy Murray ends GB's 77-year wait for men's Wimbledon champion

The ATP and WTA alignment has been discussed over and over for years but may be closer than before following Federer – arguably the most popular player in tennis history – asked on April 22, “Just wondering … am I the only one who thinks that now is the time for male and female tennis to be united and united?”
Grand Slam record winner 20 times men’s immediately received support from friends and main champions 19 times Rafael Nadal, with Murray – a member of tennis’ Big Four – now joining them.

Murray has long been a champion for equality, becoming the first high profile male player, for example, to hire female coaches.

“I think it’s good if more male players see it as a positive step for the sport,” Murray told CNN Christiane Amanpour when he interviewed the grand slam and trailblazer winners three times Billie Jean King.

“I think we have a very unique sport where we have men and women competing in the biggest competition together. That doesn’t really happen in other global sports and I see that as a big positive. We have in common to give money at events that in my opinion fantastic and very interesting for sponsors, for the audience.

“We have 50/50 types of audience that are divided between men and women which rarely occur in sports and I think all these things are things we should celebrate in sports.

“Sometimes they don’t and there is a lot of fighting going on with these things and I don’t think that’s the case. Obviously there will be some potential problems with mergers, too, but it is definitely I think a step in the right direction to start this conversation. “

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It was King who tried to get together with the men almost 50 years ago, which Murray quickly showed. But when the men refused, King set up a WTA tour.

He was “pleased” with Federer’s public declaration because “when the top male players picked him up, people listened.” The 76-year-old American has spoken with Switzerland, who is part of the ATP player board with Nadal and, among other things, another Big Four member, Novak Djokovic.

The only prominent player who opposed the idea was friend Murray, sang sometimes controversial Nick Kyrgios.

More leverage

“We can grow,” King said. “But what we have to understand is we have to stay together as a sport, because we don’t compete in our sport as many tennis people think. We need to compete with other entertainment and other sports.

“I don’t think people realize we are in this business. So I think it is very important that we are together, that we are not acquisitions. WTA will not be acquisitions. We will become full partners in this matter. Driving to make our sports better and more valuable.

“Can you imagine how strong we would be if we negotiated as one voice? Ka-ching.”

Indeed, the joint tour might strengthen the bargaining position of players as they seek greater tennis revenues, especially for low-ranking and grand slam players.

The suspension on the tour because of the virus has given ATP and WTA more time to discuss the problem than before, while the new ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi seems to intend to collaborate with the WTA.

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“The recent collaboration between government agencies only reinforces my belief that integrated sports are the surest way to maximize our potential and to provide optimal experiences for fans on the spot, on television and online,” Gaudenzi said in a statement which was sent to CNN last. month.

But he stopped at this stage, asking for a formal merger.

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon added in a statement: “I have long stated that we are in the best condition as a sport when we can work together, and the last few weeks have highlighted that fact.”

He has always been a fan, for example, of mixed events.

But while Murray, Nadal and Federer were on the board, the Scottish coach revealed that some of his ATP colleagues were not interested in gender equality.

Some male players are not happy

The 32-year-old said in the past when there were money-raising prizes for men and women – and women made the same amount as men – some of his fellow players objected.

“I spoke with several male players about who was unhappy because the prize money was equivalent,” he said. “And I said, ‘All right, would you rather have no improvement at all? You know?’ They said to me, “Yes, actually.”

“That is the kind of mentality that you are dealing with in this discussion where someone prefers to make less money so that they are not aligned with some female players, so there will be some challenges.”

He said it was very important for more women to be involved in the decision making process.

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“Coming to key decision makers of this kind today in tennis, almost all of them are men and I think when this discussion takes place, it’s important not only to see this incorporation through men’s eyes and bring more women into decision making positions so that the voice everyone is heard and protected in the discussion, “Murray said.

“And if that happens, we have great potential as a sport for – I already think it is a very special sport because what we already have – (makes it) better.”

Pro tennis will not return until July 13 at the earliest, after the cancellation of Wimbledon several exhibition seriesstart.