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SPORTS

On bended knee, Tennis players keen to survive hard times

TENNIS By Reuters | April 9th 2020
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 12, 2019 Serena Williams of the U.S. coach Patrick Mouratoglou before practice REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has called on tennis governing bodies to come together and devise a way of helping lower-level professionals struggling financially due to the coronavirus shutdown.

The tennis season was halted in early March due to the pandemic, leaving players in the lower tiers, who solely depend on tournament winnings without the opportunity to earn a living.

In a letter posted on Twitter and addressed to the tennis community, Mouratoglou said the current situation showed how “dysfunctional” the sport was.

“Unlike basketball or football players, tennis players aren’t covered by fixed annual salaries. They’re independent contractors,” he said.

“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.”

While tennis rewards top players handsomely, those in the lower echelons often struggle to make ends meet.

Mouratoglou, who started working with Williams in 2012 and has guided her to 10 of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles, said the top players deserved everything they earned.

“However, 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,” the Frenchman said.

The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women’s circuit, suspended all tournaments until mid-July after countries started locking down their borders to contain the spread of the flu-like virus.

A 2018 International Review Panel report commissioned to address betting and integrity issues said that players in the lowest tiers were susceptible to corruption because of the difficulty in making a living. Only 250-350 players earned enough to break even.

 

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