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22 Apr, 2020 17:57

Impractical idealism? Roger Federer calls for 'men's and women's tennis to come together as one'

Impractical idealism? Roger Federer calls for 'men's and women's tennis to come together as one'

Tennis legend Roger Federer has used the coronavirus crisis to pitch for men’s and women’s tennis to “be united and come together as one” – but the proposal is likely to be far easier in theory than practice.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner took to Twitter on Wednesday to suggest that the men’s ATP and women’s WTA governing bodies emerge from the global Covid-19 pandemic as a unified force.

READ MORE: Give the guy a break: You may not like Djokovic's anti-vaxx views, but he has a right to voice them

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?,” Federer wrote.

I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the 2 governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours…,” the Swiss later clarified.

His campaign was warmly welcomed by many players and sports figures, including the legendary Billie Jean King, who said the idea has long been her “vision for tennis.”

WTA president Micky Lawler has previously spoken in favor of closer collaboration between the two bodies, cautioning however that any potential merger should be discussed “more seriously.”

I think that the closer we’re able to work together, the better it is for the sport,” she said.


I think we should look at it more seriously. We do this for [the players] and they’re the only ones that have the leverage to grow the strength of every stakeholder in the sport,” Lawler added.

Considering the complexities of any such move, some pundits considered Federer’s proposal to be something of a utopian fantasy.

Also on rt.com 'I have the right to express my views': Djokovic defends anti-vaxxer stance after Covid-19 comments cause stir

The tours have different calendars, ranking systems, broadcast partners and revenue distribution systems, which could all be stumbling blocks on the way to creating a unified tour.

Same sport but two different brands, with specific sponsors. Unity would become uniformity. Nice on paper, but tennis must believe in diversity not uniformity,” one person wrote.

I think the men and women can work together on somethings. But the women tour have unique issues men tour does not have. The age eligibility rule for example not an issue on ATP because males develop later. Teen boys rarely challenge adult men on court. In WTA that more common,” another user added.

[the ATP] and WTA don’t organize the same tournaments and calendar, it is difficult to have an [organism] who controls all tennis. In my opinion, they should work separate,” one comment reads.

The ATP has its headquarters in London, while the WTA office is located in Florida, USA.

So far, the are several combined tournaments, including the four Grand Slams and Indian Wells, the Miami Open, and the Madrid Open, which have both male and female participants.

But the majority of tennis tournaments are held separately, with the WTA and ATP having their own calendars.

There would also be the crucial issue of prize money, with the men’s tour generating more income and rewarding players far more handsomely.