Back in April, Roger Federer had floated the idea of merging the ATP and WTA tours so that there was a single body to uniformly deal with the sport's problems. The idea was hailed as a revolutionary step by stakeholders from both tours, and one that could end the perceived inequalities between men's and women's tennis.
Now, Switzerland's former World No. 1 Martina Hingis has come out in support of her compatriot's idea too.
How Roger Federer's suggestion kicked off merger discussions again
The merger of the two organizations has been brought up a few times in the past, but the idea has never really taken off. The discussion was never taken seriously by either organization until recently, when the most popular figure in tennis set the ball rolling once again.
Roger Federer had floated the question to his 12.6 million odd followers on Twitter, while implying that it was time for men's and women's tennis to come together.
The idea received mostly positive response, with the likes of Judy Murray, Andy Murray, WTA chief Steve Simon and super coach Darren Cahill endorsing it. Billie Jean King, the brain behind the WTA who was forced to form the organization in 1973 due to lack of support for women's tennis, also strongly rallied behind the suggestion.
Perhaps most strikingly, Roger Federer's arch-rival and 19-time Grand slam champion Rafael Nadal supported the Swiss' proposal too. The Spaniard even said that he has "had discussions" with Federer previously on the merger of the ATP and the WTA.
Federer's compatriot Martina Hingis was not to be left behind, and she said in an interview with 'Handelszeitung' that the move would create a positive effect for everyone involved.
The 'Swiss Miss' believes that by applying Federer's idea and uniting the two organisations, the singular tennis body - and by extension the players - would be able to safeguard their interests more effectively.
"I would see it positively. The association would have a stronger position than the tournament organizers," Hingis said.
The 39-year-old went on to add that the merger would help in achieving a fairer prize distribution system, something that women's tennis players have been fighting for since a while. Right now only the four Grand Slams provide equal prize money for both sections of the draw, and an ATP-WTA merger could help address that.
But Hingis also pointed out the potential downside of the idea - that the smaller tournaments, which don't generate large revenues, could run the risk of shutting shop.
"Important tournaments (Grand Slams) give women and men the same bonuses. (But) aligning them with the small ones could be dangerous because many tournaments would then disappear due to the suddenly larger budget," Hingis said.
Previously, another WTA player Johanna Konta had also raised some concerns over the implementation of Federer's proposal. While Konta had backed the intention, she expressed skepticism about whether it would be a "merger of equals".
It will be interesting to see what Roger Federer and the two organizations have in mind to overcome the potential challenges stated by Hingis (and Konta) - assuming they are really serious about the proposal.Published 23 Jul 2020, 02:47 IST