By Tennis Now
The new Professional Tennis Players Association will represent both men and women says Novak Djokovic.
The world No. 1 says the new player union has reached out to women players over the past week and aims to represent both ATP and WTA players.
“Right now we are prioritizing to gather as many players as possible, both male and female players, because there’s been a lot of talks about this being an only men’s organization or association, and it’s not true,” Djokovic said. “We have been talking with the women tennis players in the last five, six days, trying to share as much information with them as possible, and hopefully get their support and get them in as well in big numbers as part of this association.
“This is not against ATP, WTA, ITF or any governing body. We are not looking to get into the legal disputes or substitute ATP or anything like that. I feel like we can all coexist in the same ecosystem.”
About 60 players including Vasek Pospisil, John Isner, Matteo Berrettini, Taylor Fritz, Diego Schwartzman, Tennys Sandgren, Ivo Karlovic and Christian Garin are among those who have joined the union.
Eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic says the Professional Tennis Players Association will focus on representing Top 500-ranked singles players and Top 200-ranked doubles players and aims to give players a voice in the sport’s politics.
“Many times players’ rights or voices are not being heard enough. Unfortunately in the system like this, you know, in the decision-making process, you need a majority on the board to decide something,” Djokovic said of the ATP Board. “As I said, there is a conflict of interest in most cases between players and tournaments. Things that need to be decided or players want to push forward are usually put on the side because you don’t have the majority of the votes. That’s where everything stops. Or the president has to decide.
“It’s difficult for a president to really be running such an organization like the ATP because he always has to sit on the two chairs. This is not against ATP leadership. Right now I am in a good relationship with Andrea Gaudenzi and Massimo. I’ve known them for a long time. They are trying to do their best.”
Rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both publicly called for unity among players backing the current ATP structure.
Djokovic said the new union is a step toward uniting the sport even more and in a subtle shot against his rivals said he’s “unpleasantly surprised” by those opposing it.
“I hear people saying, It’s not a good time to be divided. We are not separating or dividing,” Djokovic said. “We are actually getting united. This is first time after many, many years that players will have 100 percent their own association that will represent them in the tennis ecosystem.
“ATP, WTA still stay the same, still stay as governing bodies of our tours. They are supposed to be there. That’s fine. We can live together. We can coexist. I don’t understand why there is so much resistance towards this association, especially from players. I have to say I’m unpleasantly surprised with some players thinking this is not good for our sport. I don’t agree.”
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve