Coach Of Serena Williams Warns Players Are Leaving Tennis Due To 'Revolting' Pay Gap - UBITENNIS
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Coach Of Serena Williams Warns Players Are Leaving Tennis Due To ‘Revolting’ Pay Gap

Prestigious tennis mentor Patrick Mouratoglou has said the current COVID-19 pandemic have left some players in a dire financial situation.

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The coach of Serena Williams has said it is ‘revolting’ that players ranked outside the world’s top 100 have been left financially struggling due to the current suspension of the ATP, WTA and ITF Tours.

 

Patrick Mouratoglou has issued a statement in which he has called on the governing bodies of the sport to work together in order to find a solution to the current problem. All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until at least July 13th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike team sports, tennis players will receive no income during the suspension unless they receive money from sponsorship deals. Prompting some to explore other earning opportunities away from the sport.

The financial situation many on the tour are facing has been raised by Georgian player Sofia Shapatava. The world No.317 recently launched a change.org petition calling for support throughout the lockdown that has been signed by more than 1700 people.

“Players ranked outside the top 100 are barely breaking even and most of them are forced to fund their careers to keep playing professionally. Their lives are a financial struggle,’ Mouratoglou wrote in an open letter published on Twitter.
“Unlike basketball or football players, tennis players aren’t covered by fixed annual salaries. They’re independent contractors. They’re paying for their travels. They’re paying fixed salaries to their coaching staff, while their own salaries depend on the number of matches they win.
“I find it revolting that the 100th-best player of one of the most popular sports in the world – followed by an estimated one billion fans – is barely able to make a living out of it.”

Despite rises in prize money in recent years, there are still considerable difference in earnings between the top earners and those ranked much lower than them. So far this year four players on the WTA Tour have managed to earn more than $1 million in prize money. They are Sofia Kenin, Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Ash Barty. Overall, a total of 90 female players has won more than $100,000. However, the further down you go the most dire the situation is. The 150th highest earner of the season made $47,411 and the 300th earned $8420.

2020 WTA EARNERS
1 – Sofia Kenin USA $3,012,043
50 – Marketa Vondrousova CZE – $139,164
100 – Harriet Dart GBR – $92,505
150 – Oceane Dodin FRA – $47,411
200 Kurumi Nara JPA – $28,469
250 – Oksana Kalashnikova GEO – $18,216
300 – Talaba Gabriela ROM – $8,240
Note: players are ranked based on 2020 earnings only

Mouratoglou has warned that some players are now being forced to walk away from the sport due to a lack of funds. Saying the sport has ‘one of the most extreme levels of inequality’ when it comes to finance. This year world No.1 Novak Djokovic has won $4,486,616 in prize money already due to his 18-match winning start to the season where he won the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships. The equates to almost 18 times more than what the 50th highest earner of 2020 made (Ugo Humbert with $252,793).

“So, what happens when players are forced out of work for an undefined period of time? Well, they don’t get paid,” Mouratoglou wrote. “Some of them are giving up on their dreams and are calling it a career.
“It’s been the case for too long. Although we have done away with the long-established male supremacy in the financial field, tennis retains one of the most extreme levels of inequality in any sport.
“The thing is, tennis crucially needs them to survive. Tennis can’t live only off its elites. The tours would atrophy.
“Because the tour is on pause for the reasons we all know, these players do not get any income, and unlike most top-100 players, they do not have any money on the side or sponsorship deals to live on.
“It is time to think about those players and help them, first in the immediate future, then in the long-term.”

What is being done?

There is yet to be an announcement about what will be done to compensate players on the tour, but some national bodies have already launched their own aid packages. For example, last week the British LTA announced a £20 million package that includes providing grants to their players ranked outside the top 100 if they meet certain criteria.

The WTA, who is in charge of the women’s tour, are also currently in the process of evaluating what to do. Should tennis resume in 2020, potential ideas include expanding the calendar in order for players to play more tournaments and earn more. However, they admit their is a limit to what they can do.

“We wish there was a way everyone, especially those in need the most, could be compensated at the level they were expecting, but the needs are so great and the WTA unfortunately is not in a financial position to do that,” the WTA said in a statement issued to Reuters.
“Professional tennis players are independent contractors and not employees of the WTA. As a result, a player’s compensation is based on on-court competition and when tournaments are not held this puts a pause on their principal revenue flow.
“The WTA fully recognises the challenges these athletes are facing as well as those similar challenges being dealt with from millions of people around the world during this unprecedented situation.”

Meanwhile, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has reiterated that the governing bodies are working together to come up with a calendar for when the Tour resumes.

“We are currently assessing a number of revised calendars based on different return dates for the Tour, with the aim of rescheduling as many tournaments as possible,” Gaudenzi told The Associated Press.
“We are liaising closely with the other governing bodies with the common goal of trying to salvage as much of the season as possible once it is safe for the Tour to resume.”

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Felix Auger Aliassime set to grab headlines at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown

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Canadian Next Gen star Felix Auger Aliassime has signed up to play at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. The 2019 Miami Masters 1000 semifinalist, who has been practicing at the Moratoglou Academy in Southern France, will play his first competitive tennis match since the coronavirus lockdown.

 

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown will feature competitive matches between some of the best professional players and will be streamed live into the homes of millions of fans from around the world.

The tournament will start on 14-15 June with the match between David Goffin and Alexei Popyrin. The list of players, who have confirmed that they play in France in mid-June, also features Benoit Paire, Dustin Brown and Lucas Pouille.

Throughout a five-week period starting on 13th June, the Mouratoglou Academy-hosted series will feature ten UTS events per weekend that will broadcast into the homes of fans around the world. A grand total of 50 matches will be played in a round-robin format among the ten competitors.

For the first time, millions of tennis fans are not only watching a gripplingly entertaining match between two of the world’s best tennis players live, but spectators play a role in what unfolds. They interact with the players and can ask questions at changeovers, see what’s happening behind the scenes in the lives of players, and hear every word exchanged between coaches and players.

“The idea behind the highly entertaining tennis platform came about when renowned coach Patrick Moratoglou and tech entrepreneur Alex Popyrin were brainstorming new ways of revoulutionizing the way tennis is played, watched and appreciated. UTS organizers are viewing this challenge as a window of opportunity. Aligned with local social distance requirements, the Mouratoglou Academy will host an invitation-only showdown series for five consecutive weeks starting on 13th June featuring real tennis matches between many household names in tennis, such as David Goffin, Fabio Fognini, Alexei Popyrin, Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille and Dustin Brown”,wrote organisers.

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Severin Luthi: “For Roger, it is not necessary to be hitting balls too much”

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Paul Annacone talked to Roger Federer’s coach Severin Luthi in Tennis Channel’s Coaching in the Bigs’ series.

 

Luthi and Annacone coached Federer together for four years from 2010 to 2013.

Annacone asked Luthi how Federer was doing during the lockdown.

“For Roger, it is not necessary to be hitting balls too much. The volley challenge that he put up on social media was more for fun, there is no stress on him to practice a lot as there is time for tournaments to start”, said Luthi.

Luthi was asked whether there was anything about Roger Federer that most fans don’t know.

“Roger is a funny and nice guy. He is funnier than most people might think. Not too many people know that. Most people only know how good he is in tennis”.

Annacone said that most people don’t know how hard Roger works on the court.

“It’s almost unfair that Roger makes things look so easy. What you see is what you get from him. Most people don’t know how hard and smart he works so that we get to watch his magical stuff on the court”, said Annacone.

 Luthi said that Federer is still working very hard at 38.

“What’s fascinating for me is that he is still doing that stuff at 38. He is asking himself those questions. You need to analyse and ask yourself the right questions. You need to look forward again. He steps up for the next game and next practice. I have learnt a lot of things from him”, said Luthi.

Federer did not convert two championships points in the epic Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic last July and lost the match in five sets.

“Sometimes you win matches you should not. Sometimes you lose matches you shouldn’t. It is all about not getting too negative on yourself. You would get a second chance”.

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Novak Djokovic accepts that playing in front of empty stands is the only solution to continue the tour

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Novak Djokovic talked about the problems tennis players are facing in this difficult period in a recent interview to three-time Grand Slam champion Guga Kuerten. The Serb said that he cannot imagine the idea of playing behind closed doors.

 

The interview was part of a promotion for Kuerten’s “Vencendo Juntos” programme to raise 10 Million Brazilian Real to help 35000 Brazilian families affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Djokovic and Roger Federer have agreed to show their support for the initiative.

“I honestly don’t dream to play in front of empty stands, but it looks like that it’s going to be the reality of tennis. We have probably to accept that if we want to continue the tour, then we have to be playing in restricted conditions that will at least allow us to play and compete. Of course it is not ideal. Of course, I play for me and my family. My opinion is that I personally don’t play tennis for me only. Of course, I play for me and my family. I feel like tennis gives me so much joy and I love playing it and of course, I practice. I don’t need to have people there every practice. I think the advantage of tennis in these circumstances compared to many other sports is that you can play national level tournaments if countries between themselves allow people and players to travel between the countries”, said Djokovic.  

Tennis players are going through a lot of challenges in this difficult period.

“We have earned enough money to have comfortable lives. We are lucky and grateful to have this life, but 95% of tennis players and also the people in the world, but also the people in the world, but we are talking about tennis now, they are fighting. This is the reality. Especially those in the lowest positions. They do not have the opportunity to compete and earn money. For many of those players, this is about surviving, continuing to play professional tennis or quitting. I have spent a lot of time in the last two months helping the Serbian Tennis Federation organize a tour. I also spend a lot of time talking to the ATP and the Council, trying to understand the players, with the ATP, with the President and player representatives, about the best ways to help lower-ranking players. I hold myself accountable not only because I am the President of the ATP Council but also as one of the best players in the world and someone was very successful in tennis and made a lot of money from it. I need to be present as much as I can, be available to contribute in any way possible. I spoke with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal there was a lot of communication. I am very happy with how the world of the men’s tennis responded in these difficult times”, said Djokovic.

Djokovic said that he would like to visit Rio de Janeiro to play an exhibition match with Kuerten. The Serb visited Rio de Janeiro in November 2012 for the opening of a tennis court in the Rocinha part of the city, one of the largest slums in South America.

“I remember the day we played at Macaranazinho. I remember Rio well. I remember well. It was one of the best days of my life”, said Djokovic.

 Djokovic showed his appreciation for Guga Kuerten.

“Guga is one of the most charismatic players to have been involved in tennis and today he showed why. Brazilian tennis has a great spirit and big soul. Serbia is a small country but it has a lot of common with Brazil. We are very emotive people”, said Djokovic.

 

Djokovic started the 2020 season with an unbeaten streak of 18 wins and claimed three titles at the inaugural edition of the ATP Cup in Australia, the Australian Open in Melbourne and Dubai.

 

The Serbian star saved two match points to beat Roger Federer in an epic five-set Wimbledon final last July. He won his 17th Grand Slam title in Melbourne by beating Dominic Thiem.

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