Tennis Hall of Famer Martina Hingis has sided with Roger Federer and called for the WTA and ATP to merge, saying the governing bodies would be ‘stronger together’.
The five-time Grand Slam champion was speaking to the Handelszeitung website when she said it would benefit the female tennis players outside the highest-ranked if there was a merger.
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Federer sparked somewhat of a frenzy 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.
Hingis has backed the idea, but she admitted it won’t be as easy as it seems.
Grand Slam tournaments offer the same prize money for both men and women, but smaller tournaments still have a disparity.
Martina Hingis backs Federer proposal
Hingis admitted it would be difficult because forging equal prize money from the smaller tournament could be detrimental to them due to a lack of funds.
"I would see it (the merger) positively. The association would have a stronger position than the tournament organisers,” she said.
“It could also be a lever to align the system and also the prize money.
“Aligning [prize money] them at the smaller events could be difficult because many tournaments would then disappear due to the suddenly larger budget.
“Most players cannot live from sport. This problem can only be solved if sport has a higher status in society, which means that more money is invested in sport.”
Tennis enjoys a massive worldwide following but its governance remains fractious with as many as seven associations running different parts the game.
“I am picturing a merger between the WTA and ATP,” Federer tweeted.
“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 ...”
Besides the ATP and the WTA Tours, the sport is also controlled by the International Tennis Federation and the boards of the four grand slam tournaments.
“It's too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories,” Federer added.
“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.”