Alarm bells are ringing for Boris Becker as the COVID-19 tennis shutdown continues, with the former great concerned for the future of the sport’s minnows
THE ATP and WTA have been off-court since early March when the worldwide virus problems began to bite; No Tour play is possible until at least August 1 with Wimbledon cancelled, the French Open now set for September and the US Open in New York a huge question mark.
While an enforced absence might be fine for the comfortable millionaire haves of the sport, the have-nots are in deep economic turmoil, according to the six-time Grand Slam champion.
“I’m concerned about the profession of the ‘tennis player,” the 52-year-old told a Eurosport podcast.
“:Not about the first hundred players in the world, who hopefully have enough money in their accounts and don’t need next week’s prize money.. but the thousand players, who also call themselves tennis pros.
“They have nothing to work for at the moment. If this break lasts any longer, they will have to look for another job. They have to feed themselves and pay the rent.”
Becker did see a positive side, suggesting that the shutdown gives the ATP, WTA and Grand Slam bosses at the ITF space to try and sort out the complex state of the sport.
“They all face the same situation – there is no tennis,” Becker said, before launching into an analysis of the chronically crowded and confusing annual tournament calendar.. .
“You have to think: can there be so many tournaments in the future? Or should every major tournament be held as a so-called combined event for men and women over ten days?
“But that means fewer jobs for the thousands who are involved. What happens to the smaller tournaments like the Futures and Challenger tournaments?”
The German added; “You need these tournaments too, otherwise a young player can’t play his way up and collect points. That’s a complicated matter.
“But the three associations have never been on the same page, maybe it would be a chance to decide now: that’s the plan from autumn or from 2021. I’d like that.”