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ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slams seek to realign professional tennis

T7 working group to meet bi-weekly to discuss game’s governance and commercial opportunities.

11 March 2021 Tom Bassam

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  • ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi reveals plans to streamline all areas of tennis
  • T7 given six to nine-month timeframe for governance discussions

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has revealed that tennis’ key bodies are in talks regarding a radical overhaul of the sport’s governance that would seek to streamline the calendar and commercial operations.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Gaudenzi confirmed that a “T7 working group” involving the ATP, WTA, the four Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) will start work later this month. According to Gaudenzi, The T7 group has been formed to examine areas such as a unified calendar, shared commercial offerings, sponsorships and TV deals.

Currently the WTA and ATP, the respective elite women’s and men’s tennis tours, are completely separate entities that operate different ranking systems and commercial structures. The two tours converge at a handful of tournaments outside of the four annual Grand Slam events

“I’m excited to go through that process because it’s never been done before. I don’t know the outcome, but I look forward to exploring all options,” Gaudenzi told Reuters.

“We committed to start after the Australian Open to work together on our project with the help of a consultant from March. Governance, calendar rules, synergies in commercial media, data rights, sponsorship – everything is on the table.”

A more collaborative approach in tennis has been mooted for a while. WTA president Micky Lawler told SportsPro in 2019 that she would be open to a unified body to run both tours, while Gaudenzi first revealed to SportsPro in November last year that a working group would be established, with an 18-month timeline given to review the game’s governance.

Gaudenzi has now detailed that process out, telling Reuters that T7 would be holding bi-weekly meetings over the next six to nine months to work on proposals.

The ATP chairman wants to see tennis move away from its reliance on ticket sales and become a more modern sport commercially.

“Media and data, enriching the experience in digital is the future of distribution,” he added.

“We are seven billion people in the world, not everybody is privileged to attend the events. Covid-19 has fast tracked the trend a little bit.”

Gaudenzi also believes that the pandemic has presented an opportunity to fast-track some changes which were previously on a longer timeline.

He added: “I would like to have a different governance structure moving forward and we’ve shown we can all work together. That’s important.”

A “T7 working group” involving the ATP, WTA, the four Grand Slams and the ITF are starting talks later this month

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