It has been announced that the major stakeholders in tennis, comprising the three governing bodies – the ITF, ATP and the WTA – and the organisers of the four Grand Slam events have raised more than USD 46 million to help lower ranked players affected by the global shutdown of the sport.
The cessation of tennis due to the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the financial plight of non-elite professionals who are wholly reliant on what they earn on court to make a living, competing for limited prize money, and with no lucrative sponsorship deals to bolster their income.
For many, who struggle to make ends meet at the best of times, the suspension of the sport has been a financial disaster, and threatens the long-term future of the sport.
Now, in response to the crisis, the bodies concerned have, through a series of initiatives, raised a substantial war chest of over US 46 million which will be distributed to some 800 singles and doubles players on both the men and the women’s tour, who it is deemed are in need of financial support.
The money will be split equally between the men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) tours, and they will be responsible for the disbursement of the funds.
Players’ eligibility for relief will be determined taking into account factors such as their world ranking, the amount that they have previously earned in their careers, and their income from other sources.
In addition to this relief fund, other money is being raised to help those lower ranked professional through donations from individual players and auctions.
Having been suspended since early March, competitive tennis is provisionally due to resume again on July 13th. However, there are growing fears that it will be not until next year that tournaments and events will restart again, increasing the financial pain on many in the game.
The money now raised will help alleviate some of that burden at least.