Home » Tennis: ATP, WTA & Grand Slams and in Premium Tour talks but what role will Saudi Arabia play?

Tennis: ATP, WTA & Grand Slams and in Premium Tour talks but what role will Saudi Arabia play?

Creating a Contender Tour that is financially sustainable and desirable to spectators around the world will still be a monumental challenge. And with current ATP and WTA 250 events likely to be downgraded to Challenger Tour events, there will be many tournament owners with a product they can no longer sell.

“The Premium Tour will not happen for sure – I am convinced,” said the owner of one tournament that is likely to be significantly affected by the proposals.

“The players will not agree – because the players, they need to play. A guy ranked 50 or 60 is going to lose every first or second round, so he will not be able to keep his ranking. Their aim is to have the most number of jobs during the year. The Premium Tour will be for the top 20 players, that’s all.

“Tennis is made of proximity and diversity. So diversity is that you can play everywhere; proximity is that even in a small city, you can meet the players. It’s the strength of tennis.”

If a new unified tour does emerge, it will require compromise and is likely to take many years, as the WTA’s Simon told the BBC at the beginning of the month.

“We don’t have a clean sheet of paper,” he said. “You are going to end up spending all your time in court versus getting something done.

“There of course can be principles you want to strive to, but it’s going to take time to do that. You can’t just blow up 1,000, 500 and 250 events as they have invested a lot, are important and all play their roles in the ecosystem.”

His ATP counterpart Gaudenzi highlighted the goal of “a new unified governance for the sport” in the One Vision strategy launched in 2022.

And the tours are certainly becoming more aligned: as well as joint meetings, the ATP and WTA will this week continue very positive discussions about the foundation of a joint commercial entity to manage assets such as broadcast rights, data and sponsorship.

WTA Ventures was created in March 2022 to run the WTA’s commercial interests and its partnership with the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

‘Tennis Ventures’ would be the next step, and would bring ATP and WTA commercial assets together under one roof.

Tennis is moving towards a new future, but no-one yet knows the final destination.