Roger Federer recently suggested that the governing bodies of men’s and women’s tennis come together in order to overcome the health crisis that has taken over the world. Federer's proposal for an ATP-WTA merger inspired mixed reactions from the tennis world, and now Andy Roddick has weighed in on the matter too.
The idea put forward by Roger Federer is certainly now new. Many in the past have tried to unite the two biggest organizations in tennis, starting with the great Billie Jean King herself.
In 2007, ex-WTA Chief Executive Larry Scott floated a similar idea to that of Roger Federer. But while combining the different ranking systems, schedules and rules of the two bodies sounds appealing in theory, there are plenty of obstacles in the way - specially from ATP sponsors who consider their tour to be more profitable than the WTA.
The fans, however, seem enthusiastic in their support of the proposal. As the world tries to put on a brave face against the coronavirus pandemic, Roger Federer's plea has been met with positive replies from tennis fans all around the world.
“I am picturing a merger between the WTA and ATP. I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the two governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours," Roger Federer had added in a follow-up tweet.
Apart from the fans, a few big names in the sport have also voiced their support for Federer's suggestion - including Rafael Nadal and WTA founder Billie Jean King.
Roger Federer's idea is good in theory: Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick, sharing a panel on Tennis Channel with his fellow champions Jim Courier and Lindsay Davenport, was also asked by a fan what he thought about Roger Federer's idea. Roddick, a one-time rival of the Swiss, sounded in favor of the proposal but also added a word of caution.
"I hope it's feasible. My point the entire time, whether the player relief fund which is a good idea in theory or a merger which is a great idea in theory, is if it works," Roddick said.
The prospect of a unified tour would require extensive analysis, especially since there are so many differences in the two organizations right now. Having "different logos, different websites and different tournament categories," as Roger Federer said, is confusing for the fans already; getting them all under one umbrella would be an even more tedious exercise.
Andy Roddick waded deeper into the issue, and questioned how the intricacies would be worked out - especially if there are conflicting financial interests involved in the move.
"Do both parties win from a business perspective if it happens? How do you manage long standing contracts, whether it's a WTA Tour Finals contract or the equivalent on the ATP side?" questioned Roddick, bringing into the debate the political repercussions of combining the ATP and the WTA.
Roddick went on to add that there could also be a heap of accounting implications, requiring a long time to iron out. A merger is not something that can be achieved through a few social media campaigns, according to the 2003 US Open champion.
"How do you bring the assets in? It's just not as easy as a hashtag 'We're Together' all of a sudden and it works. There has to be a lot of particulars that need to be bent a little bit," Roddick said.
The conflicting interests of ATP and WTA could make Roger Federer's proposal difficult to implement
The immense popularity of the men's tour, due to the presence of stars like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, has led some to question whether the ATP would benefit in any way from a unification.
On the other hand, the WTA stands to gain from such a move. The women's tour has been marred by issues like unequal pay and biased court scheduling in the past, but a partnership between ATP and WTA would take on the problem right at its root.
That is probably why the de facto leader of the WTA tour, Serena Williams, has been so proactive about Roger Federer's proposal. And Roddick thinks a merger could help in lowering of costs overall, thus helping the ATP tour too.
"I think in theory it would be great, from a TV packaging perspective, from a lowering cost on-site perspective. I think if all that works it is a lot of benefit to it. But there's gonna be a lot of thought behind it and a simple question - Who is the CEO? There's a lot of things that need to be sorted out, but I hope it happens," Andy Roddick said.