A few months ago, Roger Federer had called for a merger between the men's professional tour and the women's professional tour as tennis attempts to pierce through a lengthy COVID-19 lockdown. The proposal received support from many players, but there hasn't been any movement to take it forward yet.
One of tennis’ greatest strengths has always been the opportunity it provides for men and women to play together, and be celebrated together. Be it when Boris Becker and Steffi Graf won Wimbledon before the Berlin Wall came down, or when Roger Federer and Serena Williams simultaneously stamped their supremacy on grass in 2012, the combined successes of the champions from the two tours have always attracted worldwide attention.
However, the men's and women's champions rarely get to share the same court, as there aren't many mixed gender events on tour outside of the Grand Slams. And that's something that three-time Slam champion Andy Murray wishes to correct.
During his participation in the "Battle of the Brits" event, Murray spoke to Metro UK about top male and female players playing together, and how it is a great look for the sport.
Andy Murray is known all over the world not just for his tennis but also for his progressive views on equality between men and women. Speaking along those same lines, the Scot called for more events like the Hopman Cup - where men and women play together.
"I think sports miss a bit of a trick with this stuff. The Hopman Cup, for example, was a brilliant event in my opinion," Murray said.
Murray then recalled the historic moment when Roger Federer faced fellow tennis great Serena Williams in a mixed doubles match at the 2019 Hopman Cup.
"Putting match-ups in tennis like Serena Williams and Roger Federer on the same court, it is so brilliant for our sport," Murray continued.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams were into it: Andy Murray
Paired with Belinda Bencic, Roger Federer beat Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe 4-2 4-3 (5-3) at the 2019 Hopman Cup to help Switzerland win one of the rubbers in their match-up with the United States. It was a rare moment when fans got to see the two players, widely regarded as the greatest of all time in their categories, battle it out on the court for the first and probably last time.
The Hopman Cup has since been removed from the tour schedule. And Murray believes that is a missed opportunity, as tennis "should embrace the men and women playing together" a little bit more.
"Not necessarily every single week, but at times it would be great. I would like to see Rafael Nadal on the court with some of the top female players. When I watched Roger Federer and Serena Williams playing, it was great. They were into it and I’m sure they enjoyed it as well," Murray said.
The widely-anticipated clash between Roger Federer and Serena Williams was the highlight of the last edition of Hopman Cup, with a record 14,000+ attendees streaming into the Perth Arena to watch it. If Murray gets his wish, there could be more events like the Hopman Cup in the future - and more pairings involving Serena and Federer, or Serena and Nadal.Published 30 Jul 2020, 03:26 IST