Preparations are in full swing. For the first time in 44 years, men and women will be playing tennis together again at the European Open in Rothenbaum (July 16-24). Tournament director Sandra Reichel (50) and her father Peter-Michael (69) started in 2019 with exactly this project and thought they had reached their goal.
Now the shock!
As the license holder of the ATP tournament, the DTB has re-advertised the organization from 2024!
“It’s incredible, we’re totally surprised that people are treating us like this,” says father Reichel, who is currently in contact with the French Open in Paris.
The original contract with the DTB stipulated that the future would be planned in the second half of 2020 (!). But that never happened. Reichel: “We were stalled and stalled.”
Now they were told on the phone that they no longer wanted to work with them. The DTB decided on an agency from abroad. “We are waiting for an official, written statement,” says Reichel.
Is DTB playing the wrong game?
According to the “Hamburger Abendblatt”, President Dietloff von Arnim (61) cites two things as the reason for the separation: a lack of a title sponsor. And: The addition of the women’s tournament!
Reichel is surprised: “The sponsorship question does not concern the DTB at all: Because we pay a fixed amount to the DTB. Marketing is then our refinancing.”
The women’s topic simply leaves him speechless.
In addition to Paris and Wimbledon, there are only three other combo events in Europe. Reichel: “We are very surprised by the statement. It generates great amazement. We talked to the DTB right from the start about the fact that the best product in tennis worldwide is a combined women’s and men’s tournament. Those are flimsy arguments. Maybe the real reason for the breakup is something else. The DTB could have said: ‘We received a much higher offer – ‘Can you or do you want to go with us?’ That would be a clear statement.”
Especially since no substantive criticism was ever expressed. Reichel: “Everyone who has been watching the tournament since 2019 appreciates what my daughter in particular has achieved here. The tournament has undergone a major upgrade. We have never heard any criticism from the DTB in recent years. On the contrary. Everyone has always praised my daughter in particular and is enthusiastic. There was only a pat on the back.”
Despite Corona, the Reichels have held events for the last two years – and set standards worldwide. However, it is disputed whether the years 2020 and 2021 even count legally. Because both DTB and the Reichels could not fulfill certain contract contents at that time. Reichel has a clear view: “Contractual provisions have been made for such massive disruptions that neither DTB nor we are responsible for. As in comparable cases, the lost Corona years are usually made up for, i.e. added on.”
One thing is clear: the discussion comes at the wrong time shortly before the start of the tournament.
“This situation is now making it very difficult for us economically. The sponsors and partners want to have a perspective and want to know how things will continue. The DTB is damaging the value of its best tournament,” says Reichel. But still hopes for a solution: “We will seek a clarifying conversation. We want to find a good, amicable solution for tennis. We are convinced of a successful Combined Event, have done pioneering work and stand for long-term sustainability. We didn’t come to go, like many organizers in tennis unfortunately do, but we develop tournaments over decades.”
The DTB has not yet issued a statement.