For tennis fans it’s quite something to see all main international tennis bodies come together but it has happened.
The ATP, ITF, WTA, Australian Open, FFT, AELTC & USTA have all come together to release a statement. With soo many different organisations it is good to see the bodies come together to announce plans are in place for a Player Relief Programme.
Players who are ranked lower in the world rely on the tour for their living and with no tennis there is currently no income at all for players and this will affect those ranked outside the top 100 and further down even more than the ones towards the top of the game.
A statement has from the governing bodies reads:
With so much uncertainty around when it will be safe to restart the professional tennis tours, the International governing bodies of world tennis can confirm they are in discussions to create a Player Relief Programme to provide much-needed assistance to the players who are particularly affected during this time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
These discussions have been progressing well and details are being finalised with an announcement expected in the near future. Already agreed is that the ATP and the WTA will administer the Player Relief Programme and all seven stakeholders will make a significant contribution.
The health and safety of everyone involved in tennis is the absolute priority for all the governing bodies, and the tennis community has been unwavering in playing its part in limiting the spread of the infection.
This is particularly true of our players, with so many engaging their fans through messages of hope while reiterating the importance of staying safe at home, as well as demonstrating creative ways to stay fit and practice our sport to be ready for when the time comes that play can begin again.
We know that for our players, as well as for so many people worldwide, there is the need for financial support for those who need it most and we look forward to finalizing and sharing the further details of a plan in due course.
This is fantastic and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds with all four majors to put money in the pot as well.
It has been a well known fact for some time that it is virtually impossible to play on the tour ranked outside the top 250, maintain a living and come away with a profit as well!
Why has it taken for a global pandemic to help players out?
I’ve just picked a random WTA player ranked outside the top 250 but inside the top 300 and these are their numbers from last year:
Countries flown to excluding Grand Slams = 16
Money made at WTA/ITF events – $22,061
That is a nice income for a year, however let’s just think… travel to 16 countries, accommodation and potentially the cost of a coach and a maybe a physio. What does that leave you with? Very little.
The majors make it up, this player played in three of the four majors and getting into qualifying can change lives.
Money made from Grand Slams = $38,660
It is what it is about.
It has been said for some time a more equal spread of prize money is required.
Even if I flip it onto the ATP level and even though there is the Challenger it is a similar struggle.
You can win an ITF challenger and walk away with considerably less money than if you lose in round one of Grand Slam qualifying.
Without the money from the majors, how many players would still be able to maintain a living.
It isn’t solely about the money but you need funds to support your career, travel, accommodation and family and even as high as 250 in the world struggles.
Something needs to be improved outside of this pandemic as well to support players and keep them in the game.
People drop out all the time of tennis even those ranked 250 in the world. Imagine out of 7 billion people in the world being the 250th best player at a sport and not being able to make a living?
It seems quite insane doesn’t it?
I hope this is something which isn’t just an initiative during this time of crisis but also opens up a bigger conversation.
It is something Vasek Pospisil has been pioneering for some time to see a more equal share of the prize money and majors to make more available based on their revenue. Patrick Mouratoglou in a social media post and Novak Djokovic on Instagram Live has spoken about the need to help those and keep them in the game.