Tennis divided over male, female merger

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 22:38, Apr 23,2020


A photo collected from Tennis World USA shows Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova attending an award ceremony – Photo collected

WTA founder Billie Jean King and Rafael Nadal led a wave of support on Thursday for Roger Federer’s suggestion that ‘now is the time’ to merge the men’s and women’s governing bodies, while tennis is at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Federer, winner of a record 20 men’s Grand Slam crowns, said a merger of the Women’s Tennis Association and the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals ‘probably should have happened a long time ago’ in a series of tweets.

The Swiss great’s idea for one ‘stronger body’ received an enthusiastic response from King, Nadal and leading women’s players such as former Wimbledon champions SimonaHalep, Petra Kvitova and GarbineMuguruza, but controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios expressed reservations.

‘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 posed to his 12.7 million Twitter followers.

Trailblazer King, who was instrumental in establishing the WTA in 1973, said such a merger ‘has long been my vision for tennis’.

‘I agree, and have been saying so since the early 1970s. One voice, women and men together... Let’s make it happen,’ she tweeted.

Nadal, who has 19 Grand Slam titles, posted: ‘I completely agree that it would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men’s and women’s tennis in one only organisation.’

Federer and Nadal argued that a merger could help tennis recover from the coronavirus shutdown.

‘It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time,’ Federer wrote.

World number two and reigning Wimbledon champion Halep agreed, tweeting that Federer was ‘not the only one’ thinking along those lines, while Muguruza added, ‘Yes, would be a good idea’.

But Kyrgios said he was yet to be convinced, adding that players should be consulted.

‘Did anyone ask the majority of the ATP, what they think about merging with the WTA and how it is good for us?’tweeted the world number 40, renowned for his outspoken views.

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