The tennis governing bodies have joined forces to support lower-level professionals who are struggling financially during the sport’s shut down because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The tennis season was halted in early March because of the pandemic, leaving players within the lower tiers who depend solely on tournament winnings without the possibility to earn a living.
The men’s ATP Tour and also the WTA, which runs the women’s circuit, suspended all tournaments until mid-July after countries started locking down borders to contain the spread of the flu-like virus which has infected over two million people.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF), the sport’s organization, was also forced to postpone its lower-tier World Tennis Tour.
The plight of the players ranked outside the highest 100 in singles prompted all stakeholders, together with the organisers of the four Grand Slams, to step in and devise plans to supply some relief.
While tennis players remain independent contractors and not employees, ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said he was impressed by the spirit of collaboration among the varied governing bodies.
“I’ve been quite touched by the highest players who reached out, the large names expressing really the will of helping the lower-ranked players,” Italian Gaudenzi, a former top-20 player, said during a podcast on Friday.
“We’re also working and talking with the Grand Slams about it, they’ll want to affix within the effort…
“In a world where we expect greater collaboration among the governing bodies is essential, i feel it might be a good message if we are able to support the players during this crisis.”
Gaudenzi said while the ATP’s reserves and resources weren’t infinite, and also the body was also hamstrung by lack of clarity on the resumption of the game, the Tour will offer help for those that need it most.
While tennis could be a lucrative sport for those at the highest, those within the lower echelons often struggle to create ends meet.
A 2018 International Review Panel report commissioned to deal with betting and integrity issues said that players within the lowest tiers were vulnerable to corruption thanks to the problem in making a living.
Only 250-350 players, the report said, earned enough to interrupt even.
Georgia’s Sofia Shapatava, the world’s 375th ranked women’s singles player, started a petition seeking assistance for lower-level professionals.
The WTA and also the ATP have previously said they were working to spice up players’ earnings when the game resumes and might extend this season to permit more tournaments to be held.
“In an endeavor to supply assistance with financial hardships, we’ve so far distributed over $3 million in payments to players since the suspension of play began in March,” WTA CEO Steve Simon told Reuters.
“We still observe every possible avenue to help our members, which involves variety of potential options to supply such additional financial relief.”
The u. s. Tennis Association (USTA), the organisers of the U.S. Open, has made a commitment to support the financial packages being put together by the opposite governing bodies.
“There’s really two things we’re doing to support those lower-ranked players,” USTA Chief Executive Mike Dowse told reporters during a telephone call on Thursday.
“We’ve made a commitment to still fund the challenger series and ITF-related tournaments when those return online. That’s an investment within the neighbourhood of $7.5 million.
“We want to try to to this as a part of a holistic package. it’ll be a part of that relationship we’ve with the ATP and WTA. Those details are being finalised straight away by those two organizations.”