TA backs Federer's call for tennis merger

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley believes a merger of the men's and women's tours could help solve the pay disparity between the sport's rich and poor.

ROGER FEDERER of Switzerland plays a backhand during the Hopman Cup at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
ROGER FEDERER of Switzerland plays a backhand during the Hopman Cup at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley agrees with Roger Federer that it may be time the men's and women's tours merged, believing an alliance could also help solve the pay disparity between the sport's rich and poor.

Federer took to social media to propose the ATP Tour and WTA Tour uniting during these "tough times in every sport" to ensure tennis emerges as "one stronger body" rather than "two weakened ones".

The great Swiss and fellow grand slam giants Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have already led the way in establishing a relief fund to help financially struggling lower-ranked players survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Tiley has long been an advocate for less than the seven governing bodies in tennis - including the ITF and each of the national federations that run the four slams - and is adamant a merger would be far more lucrative for the sport.

"So is there a way where you bring those seven governing bodies together and you find a solution for a better a future, a future that puts more revenue into the system because the value's higher when combining the men and the women," Tiley told AAP on Thursday.

"There's an opportunity to leverage off the asset of each other and success of each other.

"The objective of global sport should be ensuring that the lower-ranked players get paid more money, that there's more players making a living out of the game.

"So there has to be some sort of redistribution of the wealth or more revenue in the system - and more revenue in the system comes from aggregation and joining together."

Tiley acknowledges an overhaul of the sport's governance is much easier said than done.

"Because in order to get to that point, everybody has got to give something up and what are people willing to give up?

"There's a long list of things that you'd have to consider to do that and I think that's the challenge.

"But we're all (at Tennis Australia) advocating for giving it a go.

"In fact we've actioned it - we launched the new teams' event - the ATP Cup - this year and the first thing we did was said the next thing we want to do is launch the women's event - the WTA Cup.

"So we're constantly doing things to bring our sport together. We had the Hopman Cup (mixed teams' event) here for 30 years and so we've always invested in opportunities for both the men's and women's game."

Tiley says the COVID-19 crisis and suspension of sport across the globe offers tennis chiefs the perfect time to reflect on how best to move forward.

"We would encourage any action and dialogue that formalises any relationship where there is more efficiency and better aggregation of the assets."

Asked how many governing bodies for tennis was ideal, Tiley was unsure but insistent that seven was too many.

"There's too many people making decisions on the calendar, there's too many people making decisions on the flow of the year and you've got to minimise that," he said.

"And if that aggregates into one body, then that's what it should be."


AAP