2019 started out with one of the most indelible images in tennis, with 37-year-old GOAT legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams facing off in a mixed doubles match at the Hopman Cup. The tournament is a rare competition that features mixed doubles as a prominent draw for the event.
Images of Serena and Federer went viral on New Year’s Day, as Team Switzerland and Team USA battled each other. Watching the on-court interviews with Federer and Serena together and their viral selfie was a historic moment in tennis history.
The camaraderie between the sexes and countries is a testament to the global and all-inclusive spirit of tennis that the Hopman Cup specializes in. But the future of the Hopman Cup is under threat, to make way for the new, all-men’s ATP Cup, in January of next year.
The ATP Cup is rumoured to take place in Perth (as the third city), the home for the Hopman Cup for 31 years. It would be a tragic shame to dismiss such a unique staple on the tennis circuit. Hopman Cup has been for the best men’s and women’s players in the world.
“Men and women, we share a lot of tournaments together, but it’s not the same as when you play each other or share the same court,” Federer said, the reigning champion for Team Switzerland, and holds a record three titles here.
“So I think the players have always enjoyed this event. ” The event has a special place in several players’ hearts. "Obviously it would be heartbreaking," Serena Williams said, who was very surprised by the news, that this may have been the last year of the event.
Angelique Kerber—a finalist along with teammate ‘Sascha’ Zverev—felt the same. "I really love the tournament," she said. "We all will be sad that it is the last time at Hopman Cup.
"Playing here as a team with your partner, playing the mixed which is exciting, I will miss it." Getting rid of the only high-profile mixed doubles event to make way for the ATP Cup seems to send a very poor message to the all-inclusive spirit of the sport.
The numbers justify keeping Hopman as well, judging by the record attendance this year, which reached 110,364, with many days sold out. "We had an unbelievable event here for so many years -- the Hopman Cup has been very successful from a player's viewpoint," Federer said about the 31-year event.
"The players have always enjoyed this event, so let's hope it continues in some shape and form. "Where and how and what, honestly I don't know," he added. Hopman Cup is sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and managed by Tennis Australia.
The ITF president, David Haggerty, has said he hopes to see the event continue and for Tennis Australia to keep managing Hopman through their contracted time, 2022. “We’re just excited to continue to see Hopman Cup through because it is a great way to have the men and women playing,” said Haggerty, who lead the effort to revamp the Davis Cup, a controversially unpopular move in the tennis community, and at odds with Tennis Australia, among other tennis associations.
"That would be the worst thing ever," Frenchwoman Alize Cornet said when asked about it in Perth. "Losing the Hopman Cup after losing Davis Cup and everything that is happening with the ITF, I think it's a big shame.
"I think people, what they enjoy about this competition, is the fact that it's mixed. "It's just a unique and special competition and losing it, I would be very sad." Team Australia is turning its effort to the ATP Cup, which seems to also be at odds with the overhauled Davis Cup.
“If ever there was a case for the Hopman Cup continuing, whatever that means, we saw it the other night,” said Paul McNamee, co-founder of the tournament, in Perth Now.
“Charlie Fancutt and I and Pat Cash, when we started it, we believed Perth was the right place and we have received enormous support there. “Of course I’d like to see it stay in Perth, but I would like to see it stay as a tournament.
“If Perth has the ATP Cup, it’s going to have great tennis. “If the Hopman Cup is played in another city and that city warms to it as much as Perth did, that’s terrific”. With so little funding in tennis going towards mixed doubles nowadays, the Hopman Cup presents a truly special, relaxed, and joyous start to the tennis calendar in Australia.
This is a gem that should be not displaced.