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8 Apr, 2020 09:48

Serena Williams' coach: It's 'revolting' lower-ranked tennis players can't make a living

Serena Williams' coach: It's 'revolting' lower-ranked tennis players can't make a living

Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou says lower-level tennis pros desperately need help from the game's administrators to make ends meet.

The tennis season has been on hold since early March, with the spread of COVID-19 forcing the cessation of play in the global ATP and WTA tours, with play suspended until mid-July.

While those at the top of the sport may be financially comfortable enough to get by with little issue, it's a different story lower down the tennis food chain, with lower-ranked players finding it hard to make a living without their tournament pay.

The issue was addressed by Mouratoglou, who posted a letter, via Twitter, to the tennis community calling for leadership to help those at the lower end of the game stay afloat.

Calling the sport "dysfunctional," Mouratoglou explained, "Unlike basketball or football players, tennis players aren't covered by fixed annual salaries. They're independent contractors.

"They're paying for their travels. They're paying fixed salaries to their coaching staffs, while their own salaries depend on the number of matches they win."

Frenchman Mouratoglou has helped Williams to 10 of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles, and has been with the American tennis superstar since 2012. But despite his day-to-day involvement with one of the biggest stars in the game, his concern is for those much lower down the pecking order.

"I find it revolting that the 100th-best player of one of the most popular sports in the world – followed by an estimated one billion fans – is barely able to make a living out of it," he said.

During an investigation into betting issues within the sport, a 2018 review panel discovered that those players at the bottom end of the game were the most vulnerable to being corrupted due to the sheer difficulty in making a living at the low end of the sport. Indeed, the report highlighted that only 250-350 players actually earned enough money from the sport to break even.

Mouratoglou said it was crucial that the game did what it could to ensure lower-level players were able to remain a part of the sport and not lost due to financial issues.

"We all rely on those governing bodies, who have the power to protect the professional tennis economy and hold social responsibility," he said.

"We can't leave lower-ranked players behind anymore. This isn't right. Tennis needs change. Let's use this free time to start a discussion."

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