'They won't starve': Tennis star's shock refusal to help lower-ranked players

Dominic Thiem has ruffled feathers by suggesting lower-ranked players don't deserve assistance from tennis officials because they're unprofessional. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Tennis world number three Dominic Thiem expressed scepticism Sunday about plans to set up a fund to help lower-ranked players struggling because of the shutdown of the sport.

In an interview with Austria's Krone newspaper, Thiem was asked about last week's announcement by world number one Novak Djokovic that he was working with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to organise aid for players struggling with the paralysis of the game due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"Quite honestly I have to say that no tennis player will be fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked," Thiem said, adding: "None of them are going to starve."

He said that his experience competing on the sport's Futures circuit had shown him that there are "many, many players who don't put the sport above everything else and don't live in a professional manner."

"I wouldn't really see why I should give such players money," he went on.

"I would rather give money to people or organisations that really need it," Thiem said.

Dominic Thiem was runner up to Novak Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open in January.. (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The plan proposed by Djokovic would involve raising between $3 million (2.75 million euros) and $4.5 million, with the cash coming from the prize money for the season-ending World Tour Finals or the final bonus pools for top players.

"None of us top players got anything handed to us, we all had to fight our way up," Thiem said.

"I don't have the guarantee in any job that I will do well and earn lots of money, that's my opinion on the matter," he said.

Serena Williams clips Roger Federer over ATP-WTA merger

Serena Williams has bizarrely deleted a tweet responding to Roger Federer’s call to unify the ATP and WTA tours.

Federer sparked somewhat of a frenzy on Thursday when he suggested that the men’s and women’s tours should merge under one governing body.

The Swiss star said uniting the men’s and women’s bodies was “probably long overdue” and that the Covid-19 pandemic was the ideal time for them to join forces.

“Just wondering...am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men's and women's tennis to be united and come together as one?,” Federer said on Twitter.

“I am picturing a merger between the WTA and ATP. I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the 2 governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men's and women's professional tours.

“It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time. These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body.”

Federer’s call to action was widely praised, however not everyone was impressed.

In a since-deleted tweet, Serena responded by saying: “Ummm that was confidential and not supposed to be shared yet.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what Serena was referring to or why she deleted the tweet, but it certainly sparked a frenzy among fans.