WASHINGTON, April 9, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
On Tuesday evening, Patrick Mouratoglou, who has coached Serena Williams since 2012 and also counts Stefanos Tsitsipas and Coco Gauff among his pro pupils, wrote an open letter to the tennis community to raise awareness about the current situation of players ranked outside the Top 100. He suggested tennis must do more to protect players further down the rankings.
Dear Tennis Community,” Mouratoglou’s letter began, which he posted on Twitter. “Our sport is great. Yet, the challenging period we are facing only emphasizes how dysfunctional it is.
“Players ranked outside the Top 100 are barely breaking even and most of them are forced to fund their careers to keep playing professionally. Their lives are a financial struggle.
“Unlike basketball or football players, tennis players aren’t covered by fixed annual salaries. They’re independent contractors. They’re paying for their travels. They’re playing fixed salaries to their coaching staffs, while their own salaries depend on the number of matches they win. It’s a meritocracy-based system – which is perfectly fine to me. Top players 100% deserve their earnings.
“However, I find it revolting that the 100th-best player of one of the most popular sports in the world – followed by an estimated one billion fans – is barely able to make a living out of it.”
My letter to the tennis community to raise awareness about the current situation of players out of the Top100. pic.twitter.com/mFTIECxOFL
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) April 7, 2020
The Greek-French tennis coach and sports commentator quotes current men’s No. 225 Noah Rubin, who said, “For somebody outside the Top 50 or 100, you don’t have many sponsorships off court, and if you do it’s minor, you can’t live off them. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.”
Mouratoglou admits that because of the suspension of the pro tours, players affected most are not earning any income and, unlike most Top 100 players, they don’t have any money on the side or sponsorship deals to live on. He thinks it’s time for the governing bodies of tennis – ATP, ITF, WTA and the Grand Slams – to think about these players and help them, first in the immediate future and, then, in the long term.
“We all rely on those governing bodies, who have the power to protect the professional tennis economy and hold social responsibility,” writes Mouratoglou.
“I would love those institutions to say STOP. We can’t leave lower-ranked players behind anymore. This isn’t right. Tennis needs change. Let’s use this free time to start a discussion.”