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Federer opens debate with ATP-WTA merger plan

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8:00 am IST

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Roger Federer

Tennis star Roger Federer took to Twitter on Wednesday to suggest that the governing bodies that have separately run men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) tennis for decades should merge to steer the game through the crisis caused by Covid-19. “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?” tweeted Federer, who has won the Grand Slam 20 times. “I am not talking about merging competition on the court but merging the two governing bodies that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours,” he added in his later tweets. The idea of ‘merger’ received support from the tennis players across the globe.

Even his arch-rival Rafael Nadal hinted his acknowledgement. Billie Jean King, the former American Tennis legend, who has won 39 Grand Slam titles, said a merger “has long been my vision for tennis”. She replied to Federer’s tweet and expressed her agreement: “I’m glad we are on the same page.” Simona Halep, the 2019 Wimbledon Champion, also expressed her assenting views about the merger and said that Federer is not the only tennis player thinking about the move.

“You are not the only one,” she replied to Federer on Twitter. Apart from Halep, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, and twotime Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza also echoed their affirmative statements on Twitter. Various stakeholders and sports analysts have said that this move would have some economic impacts and that women’s earnings from the sport will elevate. But this again would put the authorities in the crisis of gender politics.

“Women could gain financially as most of their standalone events have lower prize funds, but how would men react to the potential dilution of their income and a brand, which for the moment, is significantly stronger?” writes Russell Fuller for BBC Nick Kyrgios, Australian tennis star, tweeted on Thursday and said: “Did anyone ask the majority of the ATP what they think about merging with the WTA and how it is good for us?” “We shouldn’t merge,” he tweeted later.

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