Tennis 10th top tournament looking for a place in the calendar. Enter Saudi Arabia.


Tennis leaders are discussing plans to host a major men’s and women’s tournament in Saudi Arabia, which would serve as an extra stop on the schedule, a top men’s tennis official said on Thursday.

Andrea Gaudenzi, CEO of the Men’s ATP Tour, said the major obstacles to the event were the constraints of an already packed tennis schedule and finding a window on the calendar that did not include players traveling to the Middle East.

Gaudenzi (pictured above with Novak Djokovic, receiving the trophy while the year’s world No. 1) said he and the ATP are no longer concerned about the Saudi Arabian government’s potential for the death penalty for homosexual behavior. and restrictions on women’s rights. In the year It follows the 2018 murder and mutilation of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

“We have the next general in Saudi Arabia, so we’ve passed that,” Gaudenzi said, referring to next month’s Under-21 World Cup in Jeddah.

Tennis is an international sport that wants to “build bridges, not walls”, different countries are in different positions on human rights and tennis is focused on the improvement of Saudi Arabia. “Sports should be a force moving in the right direction,” Gaudenzi said. “We want the power of unity, not division, to be the arbiter of who gets what for the ever more complex subject matter decision.”

Gaudenzi’s comments are the latest sign that tennis could soon be headed for a lucrative partnership with the Saudi royal family and the wider world of sports. Mohammed bin Salman’s determination to make the repressive regime a leading destination for international events. In last month’s England coup, Saudi Arabia confirmed it was the only contender to host the 2034 World Cup after changing its bidding process and eliminating the competition.

Last year, Saudi Arabia was determined to host a major tennis tournament. In recent months Four people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their roles, said representatives of the country’s investment fund would buy the two most prestigious tournaments, making pitches to manage events in Miami or Madrid. Once Saudi Arabia takes control, it can move one of the races.

Both tournaments are examples of ‘1,000-level events’, of which there are nine in total. This group of tournaments, which includes the BNP Paribas Open in Wales and the Italian Open in Rome, is the bottom of the four Grand Slams, with the winner of each earning 1,000 ranking points. Saudi Arabia is looking to add its own to the list and continues to pursue a long-term deal to host the WTA Finals, which ends on the Women’s Tour.

A WTA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

It’s unclear whether the WTA is ready to partner with the government, which gave women-only driving rights in 2018. The WTA Tour, which includes gay players in September, spoke on a multi-year offer from Saudi Arabia. His season-ending finale.

2017 US Open singles champion and WTA Players Council member Sloane Stephens said in June that it’s important for every member of the tour to feel safe in the host country.

Sloane Stephenson And The Miami Open Cup


Sloane Stephens celebrates after winning the 2018 Miami Open (Mike Frey/Getty Images).

WTA CEO Steve Simon said the organization would continue to study that issue. But Billie Jean King, one of the founders of the Women’s Tour and an activist for gay rights, has essentially given her blessing to tournaments in Saudi Arabia, which she says has brought her together with people and countries who don’t share the same faith. Systems can serve as a means of change. She referred to the decision to hold the tournament in Qatar 15 years ago. Since then, the country has made more progress in its treatment of women, even though homosexuality is a serious crime.

The decision may ultimately come down to money. Both tours are facing pressure to grow amid growing player frustration and frustration over their share of the revenue.

Go Deeper

Earlier this year, player complaints led the WTA Tour to announce that by 2027 women will receive equal prize money to men at the sport’s biggest events. In Australia in January Gaudenzi attributed ATP’s move to raise prize money by 21 percent to a This year’s record 217.9 million dollars. This fall, Gaudenzi unveiled an improved profit-sharing formula It also offered players an additional $12.2 million in major events through the 2022 season. That figure will grow for 2023 and possibly in subsequent years as those big events become more prevalent.

The ATP also recently announced a guaranteed compensation system, with the lowest earnings for men’s players among the world’s top 250 – $300,000 for the top 100, $150,000 for the next 75 and $75,000 for the next 75. Women are striving for the same. program, as well as injury and maternity pay.

With those financial pressures mounting, players have complained that an 11-month season is too long and unrelenting, but the desire to add a 10th major event like 2025 to the schedule is untenable. Tournaments of that size have sold for hundreds of millions of dollars in the past, leaving little revenue from the tour and more money for broader media rights and sponsorship deals.

“There is a strong desire and pressure for the board to grow,” Gaudenzi said. “We want to grow our premium product and pay players their fair share and pay more players.”

(Top photo: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

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