Federer says ATP and WTA should merge

andrewhendrie in News 23 Apr 2020
Federer ATP WTA Merge
Federer wants a united governing body in tennis (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

Roger Federer continues to be active on social media during lockdown, calling for the ATP and WTA to merge into one united governing body.

The notion of a unified governing body in tennis isn’t a new idea, but Federer has propelled the thought back into the public spotlight, taking to Twitter to urge authorities to consider the proposal of men’s and women’s tennis coming ‘together as one’.

Federer’s post was met with overwhelming support by the majority of his fellow players, including female Grand Slam champions Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova.

Rafael Nadal also responded to Federer on Twitter, agreeing with the Swiss and revealing the pair have talked about unifying the tours in the past.

However, not all players were keen on the idea, with Nick Kyrgios unconvinced it’s beneficial for the ATP and alluding that the WTA need to merge for their own reasons.

But, for the most part, it seems the bulk of the tennis world is calling for a merger. ATP boss Andrea Gaudenzi – who began his new role on January 1 – confirmed talks to come together were underway with the WTA.

“Our sport has a big opportunity if we can come together in the spirit of collaboration and unity,” he said.

“Recent co-operation between governing bodies has only strengthened my belief that a unified sport is the surest way to maximise our potential and to deliver an optimal experience for fans on-site, on television & online.

“To that end, I welcome the views of our players. Tennis has always led the way when it comes to putting men and women together on the biggest stages — it’s one of our strengths and sets us apart from many other sports.

“We look forward to continued collaboration and discussions with the WTA and other stakeholders across all aspects of our business.”

The legendary Billie Jean King, a long-time trailblazer for women’s tennis and who founded the WTA in 1973 with the aim of garnering equal opportunity, was delighted Federer brought the discussion back to the forefront.

“Now I think it’s a possibility. A real possibility. And why not?” King said. “I just think this would be so huge for our sport. I’m just so happy Roger said something.”

Federer went on to discuss the issue further when fans responded to his original post, saying the current structure of both tours was ‘confusing’ to fans.

The ATP and WTA operate under different ranking systems and tournament categories and only play under the same umbrella at Grand Slams, which are run by the separate governing body of the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

“It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories,” Federer tweeted.

“These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body.”