During the long pause caused by the global pandemic, Roger Federer sparked a strong debate on the possibility of merging ATP and WTA in one of the most difficult moments in the history of tennis. According to the 20-time Grand Slam champion, the creation of a single organization would be ideal to allow the racket world to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19.
Tennis has a huge following all over the globe, but its leadership has always remained fragmented with seven competing associations. In addition to ATP and WTA, we must not forget the control exercised by the ITF and the 'boards' of the four Slam tournaments.
“Fans get confused if there are too many different systems, different websites, different tournament categories. Now is really the time to unite everything "- explained Federer. Interviewed by the Handelszeitung website, the Hall of Famer Martina Hingis lined up alongside her compatriot and all second-tier players.
Hingis on Roger Federer's idea
"I would see it (the merger) positively. The association would have a stronger position than the tournament organisers,” Martina Hingis said. “It could also be a lever to align the system and also the prize money.
Aligning [prize money] them at the smaller events could be difficult because many tournaments would then disappear due to the suddenly larger budget. Most players cannot live from sport. This problem can only be solved if sport has a higher status in society, which means that more money is invested in sport" - she added.
The idea had also received support from Andy Murray, WTA President Steve Simon and renowned coach Darren Cahill. Billie Jean King, the main advocate of the birth of the WTA back in 1973, expressed all his support for an initiative as audacious as necessary.
Nick Kyrgios had instead been one of the detractors, having admitted that he did not understand the reason for such a proposal. Quite perplexed also Gilles Simon. “It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time.
These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body" - Roger Federer had said. Spanish 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal added: "It would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men's and women's tennis in only one organisation."
Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Argentine Diego Schwartzman and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza are among the other high-profile tennis players to voice their agreement on social media.