Novak Djokovic, the world’s number 1 tennis player, along with American John Isner and Canadian Vasek Pospisil, would all resign from the Association of Tennis Professionals to start their own breakaway tennis group, the Professional Tennis Players Association.
According to the New York Times, Djokovic resigned from his position as chairman of the players council and Isner also resigned from his position. Pospisil is the only one of the three to have publicly announced his resignation from the ATP.
My resignation from the ATP Tour Player Council: pic.twitter.com/NlFziU1797
– Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) 29 August 2020
What do we know about the PTPA?
Very little is known about the separatist group. While it’s clear from the tweet about Pospisil’s resignation that the group is looking to give tennis players more power and representation in decision making, little is known beyond that.
The Times obtained an information document which Djokovic and Pospisil distributed to other players.
“The goal of the PTPA is not to replace the ATP, but to provide players with a self-governing structure that is independent from the ATP and that is directly responsive to the needs and concerns of players’ members,” the players said in the document soliciting sign-ups of other top players on the tour.
In a separate message to players last week, Pospisil said he envisioned the new group acting essentially as a union, but with more legal flexibility. It would represent players’ interests in things like tournament services, travel, player pensions, revenue sharing, and discipline.
“There will be a lot of work to build and refine the operations of this association, but this is the first and most fundamental step we need to take,” Pospisil, who consulted Norton Rose Fulbright law firm to players, wrote in its message. He added: “Our voices will finally be heard and we will soon have an impact on the decisions that affect our lives and livelihoods.”
The ATP did not release a formal statement on the new separatist group, but the Times obtained a letter sent to the players by President Andrea Gaudenzi, urging them not to join the PTPA.
“You have what other athletes in other sports would strive for: a seat at the boardroom table. This is what players fought for in creating the ATP Tour, “said Gaudenzi.” It makes no sense why you would be better served by moving your role from the inside to the outside of the governance structure. “
While the ATP may see the PTPA as a threat, at least some players are interested in signing up. Canadian Milos Raonic, the world’s number 30 male player who faces Djokovic in the Western and Southern Open final on Saturday, told the Times that he plans to register, and expects many of his teammates to do so. the same.
And the tennis players?
One group not represented by the PTPA are women. So far it appears that they have been completely excluded from the new separatist group, and it is not clear if there are any plans to incorporate them. The ATP represents men only, while women are represented by the Women’s Tennis Association.
There have been recent discussions on the merger of ATP and WTA, and big stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been supportive. However, the Times reported that “many male players” strongly oppose the tour merger, arguing that female tennis players “don’t deserve” to make as much money as men.
Pospisil has publicly claimed that Grand Slam tournaments invest more money towards female athletes, but it is not known whether the PTPA will adopt this position.
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