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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, April 22, 2020

 
Serena Williams, Roger Federer

"These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with two weakened bodies or one stronger body," Roger Federer says of a potential ATP-WTA merger.

Photo credit: Hopman Cup Facebook

During this coronavirus age of social distancing, Roger Federer is advocating for the ultimate unity.

An ATP and WTA merger.

Watch: Nadal, Federer Are Myth-Busters

The 20-time Grand Slam king says it's time for the ATP and WTA Tours to join forces as one unified governing body to grow the game.

In response to a tweet from @FedererArmy, who wrote "I would love for the ATP and WTA to merge", Federer concurred pointing out a combined Tour would create clarity and eliminate confusion for fans.

"I agree with you," Federer replied. "It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories."




The Tours have been cooperating during the coronavirus crisis that has locked down sport. The ATP and WTA jointly announced continued suspension of the pro circuit until July 13th—and along with the ITF and four Grand Slams announced discussions for a Player Relief Program to distribute financial aid to players.

Of course, there are inherent issues between a full-fledged ATP-WTA merger—structurally, the organizations are different, their rules differ and if there was a complete merger it would undoubtedly increase operating costs for tournaments—the fact is the most successful tournaments in the world are combined men’s and women’s events that offer fans and sponsors the best value.

The 38-year-old Federer, whose wife Mirka formerly played on the WTA Tour and who has called former world No. 1 Martina Hingis his dream doubles partner, asserts tennis would be best served by creating more combined events.





In a post-coronavirus age, Federer says one unified tour will be more stronger and more successful than two separate tours, which are sometimes competing for the same sponsorship and television revenue.

"[A merger] probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time," Federer posted on Twitter. "These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with two weakened bodies or one stronger body."



Hall of Famer Billie Jean King, who helped launch the WTA, has long advocated for one combined tour.




King contends continuing cooperation between the two tours is critical for tennis to grow amid a crowded sports landscape.

“I think everyone emphasizes the majors so much,” King told Tennis Now in a past interview. “In the old days when we played, we emphasized the tour a lot more. That’s when we had over 40 tournaments and World TeamTennis in this country, when we were doing our best.

"It really gets back to making sure we have tennis in the community, TeamTennis, Fed Cups, Davis Cups in our communities because it’s the only way we’re going to get our kids inspired."

Other players were quick to take up the cause, as Rafael Nadal chimed in, saying "I completely agree that it would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men's and women's tennis in one only organisation."



Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova offered her perspective, saying "Hands up if you agree with Roger Federer."

 

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