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By Erik Gudris | @ATNTennis | Sunday, September 3, 2023

As the US Open continues, the tennis world is also focused on a possible merger between the ATP Tour and WTA Tour that will be discussed next month.

Tennis Express

According to a new article from The Telegraph, officials from both tours will convene next month in London to discuss a potential merger as a response to growing interest and influence from Saudi Arabia in the sport. ATP Tour Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi and WTA Tour Chief Executive Officer Steve Simon, along with other tour officials, will be at the meeting.

The meeting will take place as Saudi Arabia’s interest in hosting more tournaments and potentially creating its own tour to rival the ATP Tour and WTA Tour continues, which has created debate among officials and players. Both tours are hoping to avoid the controversy that the recent LIV Golf tour has endured, also backed by Saudi interests.

Saudi Arabian organizers recently announced that the Next Gen ATP Finals would be hosted in Jeddah as part of a new five-year deal starting in 2023.

Any merger between the ATP Tour and WTA Tour, would not happen overnight and would require approval from multiple parties involved. This is due to each tour having its own separate sponsors and TV licensing agreements.

The four major tournaments, including the US Open, would remain separate from any merger.

Roger Federer, three years ago, publicly said he thought it was time for both tours to merge. Both current and former players have weighed in on the growing influence of Saudi Arabia from both sides.

All-time great John McEnroe is against any Saudi Arabian investment and recently said before the US Open, saying "(It's) 
comical that it's even being brought up right now" given "the debacle you're watching in golf."

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia recently said she welcomes the opportunity.

“You know, as an Arab player, I'm very excited to be there,” Jabeur told media at her US Open pre-tournament presser. “I am someone pushing for a change, pushing to give more and more opportunities, especially for women.

Tennis icon and 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert however opposes any change calling it “sports-washing”, especially given Saudi Arabia’s mixed record on human rights.

“I would prefer not to go to Saudi Arabia to play the WTA Finals,” Evert said. “Not that I'm going to go play, but for me, I would prefer the WTA not go to Saudi Arabia. “Obviously they have the human rights issues and everything, just the way they treat women. I would be against it. But I don't have a vote.”

Nick Kyrgios recently posted on Twitter his support of Saudia Arabia investing more in the ATP Tour in the future.

According to the Daily Mail UK, Saudi Arabia is also in the running to possibly host this year’s WTA Finals, which is still looking for a host city. Organizers have offered to substantially increase the prize money to over $12 million total. Other cities in the running for the event, to be decided next week, include Washington, DC, Prague, and Monterrey.

Photo credit: Nike