Craig Tiley: ‘We Are In An Unprecedented Crisis’

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

In retrospect, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley’s 14-word, 80-character tweet posted on his Twitter page Thursday was one he probably wished hadn’t been necessary. Yet, it succinctly summed up his own feelings and those of his fellow Australians reacting to the painful decision to cancel this year’s Wimbledon Championships, announced Wednesday by the All England Club. Tiley’s tweet read: The right decision, but a heart-breaking one. We are in an unprecedented crisis.

On Wednesday, Tiley, along with Todd Woodbridge and John Fitzgerald, in the AO Show podcast posted on the Australian Open website, commiserated Wimbledon’s cancellation, conveying: “We really feel for Wimbledon, all of our tennis friends, the players. It’s a very tough time.”

Tiley, who is also tournament director for the Australian Open, sat for an interview earlier this week with Chris Barrett of TheAge.com.au, in which he said he felt that all of this year’s remaining Grand Slam events are unlikely to go ahead as planned. Not only that, Tiley fears the season is lost completely to the coronavirus pandemic because of the global nature of tennis.

“My personal view is i think for tennis to come back this year is going to be tough,” said Tiley. “It relies on global travel, and I think that’s probably the last thing that going to come back. I think sports that have a domestic focus are in a strong position and sports that have a global focus are more challenged.”

Tiley said that Tennis Australia, whose staff have had their working weeks reduced to cut costs, is “planning running the AO 2021 and planning on having a great season.” The Australian Open is scheduled for January 18-31, 2021. However, he said they are also looking at a worse-case scenario in which the year’s first major is affected by Covid-19.

“We’ve go to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Tiley. “…What I want to do as an organisation (is) I want to plan for it being really difficult for people to be traveling this year from country to country. I think within the country will be fine. (When) you can travel globally is when tennis can come back, from a pro level. From a local level, we can start right away and that’s what we would be focused on at the beginning.”

#stayhome: A few moments with Roger Federer

Once again, Roger Federer lit up social media with a video clip of him hitting solitary against a wall. While Thursday’s video lasted a mere 50 seconds, it provided fans and media with a glimpse this week into Federer’s stay-at-home practice routine in the Swiss mountains, where wintry conditions are still very much evident.

“Hey, guys! I just wanted to show you a little glimpse of how I’m practicing at home – again, against the wall like in old days,” says Federer, decked out in winter sweats. “Staying active at home is very important at the moment – maybe even working on the trick shots once in a while. …”

Along with the video, Federer tweeted: “I hope everyone is safe and healthy. Stay positive. Keep active. Support one another. We will get through this together. 🙏 #stayhome”

Tennis goes cinema vérité

As tennis remains shut down for the foreseeable future, not only have players like Kristie Ahn embraced TikTok to share funny short-form videos, but now, others like American Bethany Mattek-Sands and the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova have posted longer-form videos with tennis themes. On Thursday, in #TowelsForCharity, Mattek-Sands shared her vast and colorful array of Wimbledon tennis towels she’s collected – hoarded? – over her many years of competing at The Championships. Meanwhile, Krejcikova, who is World No. 8 in doubles, revealed a childhood video showing she had pretty good form back when she was just six-years-old. Who knew!

What they’re podcasting

Tennis.com Podcast with Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi

What they’re writing 

Russell Fuller, BBC Tennis Correspondent 

What they’re tweeting 

Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland, ranked No. 17

Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, ranked No. 3

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greece, ranked No. 6

Donna Vekic, Croatia, ranked No. 24