Shapatava calls on ITF to provide financial assistance for lower-ranked tennis players

andrewhendrie in News 29 Mar 2020
Shapatava ITF
Sofia Shapatava (Photo: Instagram)

Georgian tennis player Sofia Shapatava has launched an online petition aimed at generating financial assistance for lower-ranked players.

With COVID-19 continuing to spread worldwide and causing all levels of tennis to come to a standstill until June 7 at the very earliest, many lower-ranked players are struggling to make ends meet.

While players ranked in the top 100 are financially secure, the nature of tennis’ top-heavy prize-money distribution means that ATP and WTA competitors competing on the Challenger and ITF circuits are sometimes living on week-to-week pay cheques.

With no tournaments for the foreseeable future, there’s a high number of professional tennis players that have no current source of income.

Shapatava, a 31-year-old ranked No. 371 in the world, has created a petition on as a result of the financial hardships set to rain down on countless tennis players in the coming weeks and months.

The Georgian is calling on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to assist lower-ranked players during these challenging times.

“Professional tennis players all over the world stopped to compete, whilst top athletes have resources to support themselves for a couple of months, lower ranked players suffer a lot,” Shapatava wrote on the petition.

“Not many will be able to support their every day life and then come back to playing after three months without competition, the companies in charge of tennis circuit should help to secure players, or at least help them through this hard times for our sport. Any help will do for majority.

“Many companies organized paid leave to their employees and tennis players are also employees of world’s tennis organizations. I do believe they should get some support as well, as we pay taxes, we pay licenses and we are working for them.

“The total shut down was very unexpected and majority is very affected by this. Though it is a hard time for everyone, there has to be support and help also for everyone.”

Speaking to PA Sport, Shapatava said she was aware that the coronavirus pandemic was affecting people in all walks of life globally, but she felt the need to stand up for her fellow tennis players.

“All I know is that someone has to take responsibility for players as we all are in a way employees and we already don’t get paid enough so, in the moment of huge crisis and shutdown, at least we can have some support.

“We feel now more than ever that we have nobody that takes care of us, and nobody has the responsibility for real if all the tennis tour breaks down. It is a horrible feeling. And I am not the only one who feels it. The petition is a way to be heard.

“I understand that there are far bigger problems in the world than tennis. And I wish everyone health. But, just because there is one huge problem, it does not mean other problems don’t exist.”

The petition has 1,170 signatures at the time of writing.

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