"You can't buy history" - Australian Open director Craig Tiley on possibility of 'Fifth' Grand Slam and changes Saudi money may bring to tennis

WTA was in talking with the Saudi government to host the year-ending tournament.
WTA was in talking with the Saudi government to host the year-ending tournament.

Australian Open director Craig Tiley's ambivalence about the idea of the women's tour hosting its premier year-ending WTA Finals in Saudi Arabia encapsulates the divided reaction that the idea had evoked when it was first announced.

But there is one thing that Tiley was sure of: that the Grand Slam was at no risk of losing favor with the audience. The Aussie said no amount of money can buy the "history" that these mega events bring to the table during his latest Rock n Roll Tennis podcast appearance.

"Not just Saudi money, I think any significant sums of money could could alter a direction sport goes are," Craig Tiley said. "But there's a lot of history and tennis you can't buy history. Doesn't matter really who you are."
"That doesn't mean that tennis should be sitting on their laws, just relying on on history to save them," he added.

Tiley said while tradition was not enough to sustain the sport, big moves were not the answer either, as they would prove "disruptive" to the sport. He batted for a more sensible approach to utilizing the massive amounts of money being pushed into tennis for the betterment of the sport.

"I've never really felt that the Grand Slams ever at risk about another plan being developed or new history," Craig Tiley said. "Trying to be created with an incredible amount of money."
"Because at the end of the day, you know, something like that will be potentially disruptive to the sport, that it runs the risk of hurting everything else," he continued. "So, I'm more optimistic about it, about people being sensible about it."

Notably, the tennis world was divided on the proposal as well, with some viewing the vast financial gains the move would bring positively. Others reminded the world of Saudi Arabia's complicated past with human rights and the status of women in the country.

"I think the Saudi objective is more to have a good event ii their country" - Australian Open director Craig Tiley

Australian Open director Craig Tiley
Australian Open director Craig Tiley

Craig Tiley also spoke about the "threat" of a new country suddenly wanting to push huge amounts of money into tennis. saying it has happened in the past—and done "fairly well," no less.

"This threat hasn't, you know, and it's not new it's existed before from other nations. They can invest and in tennis, it's been done," the Australian Open director said. "Yeah, I think it's been done fairly well."

Cricling back to his original point of money acting as a "disruptor", the Australian Open director said he did not believe that the Saudis were aiming for anything like that at all. Instead, Tiley said he was sure that the administration only wanted to host another big tennis tournament at home and promote the sport in the country.

"But I am also confident," Craig Tiely said. "I think in this case you're talking about the Saudis, I would be surprised if their objective was to disrupt the sport."
"I think the objective is more to have a good event in there and their country and as big as they possibly can and and support the sport where they can I would expect that would be their objective so and that's a good objective," he added.

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Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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