Calls for global tennis boss grow as gaps between various bodies widen
With tennis being torn apart by turf wars and infighting between its various constituents, Wimbledon’s boss has suggested that appointment of a tennis supremo might be the answer to imposing order on the chaos.
“People say ‘Oh we need a commissioner of tennis’ and so on … I would be the first to say this is an idea worth exploring,” All England chairman Phillip Brook told Reuters.
“I don’t know whether a commissioner is the answer … I think giving all of that responsibility to one person is probably too much.”
The sports is currently divided by growing turf wars and prize money battles which most recently broke out between the ATP which sanctions the men’s tour and the grand slam supervisory body, the London-based International Tennis Federation.
The ITF is going ahead with a controversial and contentious re-write of the 118-year-old Davis Cup, condensing the classic event from four weeks down to one with a November shootout set to comprise the entire competition to be played in November, 2019 and 2020 in Madrid.
Meanwhile, the ATP seems to think it’s a good plan to schedule a revival of the defunct World Team Cup in January prior to the Australian Open while completely clearing that had already been a packed tournament calendar during the Aussie summer high season.
Observing from inside the gates of the All England club, it seems the tennis world is losing it’s mind as the sport’s financial side gets weaponised.
“It’s a very hard problem to solve because seven groupings, everybody has a slightly different agenda,” Brook said. “It doesn’t show our sport off in the best light, I think, some of the things that are going on.”
Talk of a global tennis boss has been bandied about for years, with some pundits actually suggesting that former bad boy and TV talking head John McEnroe could do the job – in all seriousness.
While that fantasy looks like a definite non-starter, the sport’s various leaders are all searching to reinforce their own fiefdoms:
The women’s WTA is now asking for a re-do of the Fed Cup format now that the Davis Cup has been given a refresh.
Added Brook: “I would say there is more unilateral behaviour and discord in our sport among the governing bodies than I’ve seen in the sport in 20 years.
”It would be great if tennis could do a better job of coming together and trying to figure things out and try to act in the best interests of tennis with everybody pulling in the right direction.”
Between the four grand slams there is already a prize money arms race while – US Open winners each earned nearly $3 million before US taxes – regular Tour events on both the men’s and women’s side often struggle on the business side.
Brook said that all of the clashes and the surprise additions of new event have been “unhelpful.”
“Nobody wants somebody else telling them what to do.
“If you want to make change… somebody over here says ‘Hang on a minute that doesn’t work for me’. So you need somebody or a few people who have got the authority, who have been given the authority by the sport, to act on everybody’s behalf. It would be a brave step for the sport to take.”