Coco Gauff's coach Brad Gilbert details why he is all in for Saudis entering tennis

Gilbert thinks the players could benefit big-time from a potential Saudi deal.

by Dzevad Mesic
Coco Gauff's coach Brad Gilbert details why he is all in for Saudis entering tennis
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Coco Gauff's coach Brad Gilbert is all in for tennis partnering up with Saudi Arabia as he believes that's the best thing for the players and something that would finally give the players across the ATP and WTA Tours to be compensated as they deserve. 

In late 2023, the rumors began to swirl around that the Grand Slams and Masters events may be looking to make a proposal to the Saudis that would see the formation of an elite circuit which would be called the "Premium Tour." But under that model, ATP and WTA tournaments from the 500 and 250 would suffer big-time because all the top and best players would switch to the Premium Tour. 

The ATP and WTA noticed what was happening behind the scenes and reacted by starting to work on their own proposal to the Saudis. And a couple of days ago, The Telegraph reported that the Saudis gave the ATP and WTA a $2 billion offer with a 90-day expiration date to merge the men's and women's Tours. If accepted, the new Tour would be called the "PIF Tour" but the four Grand Slams would not be a part of it as it stands now. 

Under that model, male and female players would be paid equally and it would include a Masters 1000 event in the first week of the season and the WTA Finals would also be staged in Riyadh. 

Gauff's coach Gilbert on why a potential Saudi deal could benefit tennis big-time

Gilbert, who famously worked with Andre Agassi for eight years and has been Gauff's coach since last summer, believes it is time the tennis players start seeing a really notable increase in prize money. 

"One thing is for sure, obviously the top players are doing well but the one thing in golf that has dramatically changed is the No. 100 player, you know, 10 years ago in tennis, we were making similar money. Now the No. 100 player in golf is making more than the No. 10 player in tennis," Gilbert said on CNBC's Squawk Box.

"So sometimes competition isn't good, sometimes competition is great. So, hopefully, besides this one Saudi offer with the ATP and WTA, now the Grand Slams are going to say, 'You know what, we don't want this to happen, we're going to get our own tour and try to get you on board.'"

Brad Gilbert and Coco Gauff
Brad Gilbert and Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

While tennis striking a major deal with Saudi Arabia seems inevitable, some are heavily opposing tennis getting forming a partnership with the Saudis, citing concerns regarding the country's human right record. When asked to share his thoughts that, Gilbert noted that several other major sports are already partners with Saudi Arabia.

"You're not going to please everybody on this decision. There's going to be some people who are totally against it but this is a player's decision, what they're going to decide, how they're going to move forward," Gilbert said.

"And they are taking the money doing it in boxing, UFC, Formula 1, golf has done it."

Gauff's coach Gilbert suggests the Premium Tour might be the better option

If the Premium Tour saw the daylight, their streamlined calendar would very likely consist of four Grand Slams - 10 Masters tournaments - one team event and also the season-ending tournament, the ATP Finals and WTA Finals. 

On paper, the Premium Tour looks intriguing because it would feature only top-level events featuring top players. Also, the fact that four Grand Slams are included in that model gives extra weight to that model. 

Personally, Gilbert is more for the Premium Tour model and would prefer it over the PIF Tour. 

"The players right now in my humble opinion are completely getting the short end of the stick," Gilbert said. 

"If we get the same offer from the Grand Slams to do the Tour, I'd say 'Go with the Grand Slams', because they already control the four biggest tournaments and that would make the most sense and I'm extremely hopeful that the Grand Slams now... They are calling their Tour potentially the 'Premium Tour.' 

"To me, there's probably no room for two Tours. So hopefully, they will figure something out and the players will get the windfall."

Brad Gilbert
Brad Gilbert© Getty Images Sport - Sarah Stier

When Gauff was asked about the WTA potentially inking a deal with Saudi Arabia in the future, the top-ranked American female tennis star noted she wasn't a fan of how some of the things are done there. But also, Gauff indicated that she would play in Saudi Arabia but that she would be looking to use her time there to spark a positive change and make a difference. 

Coco Gauff Brad Gilbert