Djokovic shows dramatic numbers "Less than 400 players live with tennis"

The Serbian champion explained where action must be taken, showing truly painful numbers for a sport like tennis

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Djokovic shows dramatic numbers "Less than 400 players live with tennis"
© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

The main goal of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) founded by Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil is to progressively increase the number of athletes able to make a living playing tennis.

"In 2020, during the pandemic, we played the US Open in a bubble. It was really strange to compete without a crowd. Pospisil and I created the Professional Tennis Players Association. It is a players' organization, because we feel that tennis players are not represented in the right way.

Obviously I am referring to both men's and women's tennis. There are 400/450 players at the moment. The main mission is to try to increase the number of players who can make a living from tennis. Make sure we have better organizations for future generations," explained Djokovic during an interview with Jeffrey Katzenberg broadcast on YouTube.

"I don't want to be misunderstood: tennis is doing well. It is one of the most popular sports and we are happy to be recognized as great athletes. Many people come to watch the matches or follow us from home on television. Few people know that only 300/400 tennis players, counting men's singles, women's and doubles, can make a living practicing this sport. It's a really small number.

Many of these do not have a staff: coach, physiotherapist, athletic trainer. They have to do everything themselves. Many travel alone. There are too many governing bodies and, in theory, our organization should already be part of the Tour. We have a Players Council, but there is always a conflict of interest. We want to improve our sport, but we must not forget where we come from," said Nole.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

Djokovic used his country as an example to analyze more deeply what he and the PTPA are pursuing.

"In Serbia, for example, we had a golden era with four world No. 1s in the last 20 years: myself, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Nenad Zimonjic in doubles.
For a country with no tennis tradition it was incredible. But it was not the result of a real system. We are children of war and have faced various adversities. I believe this helped us manage difficult moments better.

Obviously I hope people don't have to go through all this and the experience of war, because it's terrible. But at the same time it makes you appreciate everything you have more, because we grew up without having anything," he told.

Djokovic has been carrying out this important battle for many years now to guarantee future generations of tennis players a better future from all points of view. We can never talk too often about the underground world of this sport. A world populated by all those players forced to make enormous sacrifices just to try to build a career, and who at the end of the year are unable to balance their expenses.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Naomi Baker / Staff Getty Images Sport

The PTPA fight

Only a few months ago, at the end of 2023, Djokovic's PTPA had taken a clear position against the WTA for the organization of the Finals in Cancun.
The organization of the tournament between the 8 best tennis players of the season, won with merit by Iga Swiatek, left much to be desired and attracted much criticism.

Players like Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek, Elena Rybakina have complained about an organization that has highlighted many flaws. The location of the tournament was decided with a guilty delay and the works for the construction of the facility that hosts the matches found their epilogue a few hours before the start of the tournament.

But it didn't end here. Adverse weather conditions have often created various inconveniences for tennis players.

WTA CEO Steve Simon said:

"It is clear that you are not satisfied with the decision to be here in Cancun. I understand that and you have been listened to. As I told you, we didn't expect to be here and the decision for this location was based on a number of complicated factors. It's not a perfect event, we understand that the conditions are difficult and the WTA obviously takes responsibility for that."

After a few days, the PTPA also intervened on the issue, which sent a clear message to the WTA:

"The recently concluded WTA Finals not only disappointed players and fans, but also cast a shadow on tennis and women's sport in general. Last week, the PTPA chose to remain silent out of respect for the players who worked hard for a year to achieve this result and for the local organizers who were unfairly trapped in an impossible situation. Now that the event is behind us, we are calling on the WTA to commission an independent, third-party report examining the numerous egregious failings that have occurred in recent months."