Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge, British legend Andy Murray and other players have all questioned why women tennis players were not involved in the group, helped set up by Novak Djokovic, which broke from tennis on the weekend.
The tennis world descended into chaos only days before the US Open after it was confirmed Novak Djokovic helped lead a breakaway players association, which both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer publicly opposed.
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In a stunning move after the Southern & Western Open the players confirmed the emergence of the PTPA with a photo standing together.
Djokovic could be seen at the front of the photo.
“After today’s successful meeting, we are excited to announce the beginning of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA),” Vasek Pospisil wrote on Twitter.
“The first player only association in tennis since 1972. #PTPA”
But a telling absence in the photo was the lack of women representatives.
After today’s successful meeting, we are excited to announce the beginning of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). The first player only association in tennis since 1972. #PTPA pic.twitter.com/070TRKZ4xG— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) August 29, 2020
And that is because as it stands, the PTPA just currently represents the men’s game.
The decision was labelled ‘tone-deaf’ from former Aussie double’s champion, turned analyst, Todd Woodbridge.
“This is tone deaf by the group that have decided to break away. The ATP is the players’ representation, they’ve got their seat at the table; they want more, they want more control of that,” Woodbridge said on the Wide World of Sports on Sunday.
“It’s just poor judgment at this time. Everybody’s losing jobs, millions are out of work, tournaments are struggling to stay up and afloat, and the tour’s been trying for the last six months to get back.
But Todd Woodbridge pointed out the major exclusion in the new breakaway players association.
“But there’s the biggest downfall of all and that’s … where are the women? If you’re going to do this, tennis is the one sport that’s united in the world, with equal prize money, our majors are played together,” Woodbridge added.
“We are better and stronger as one, and we’re not standing up to that. This group has totally missed the mark on an opportunity to bring everybody together, and I think that’s going to be their downfall.”
Andy Murray wants women inclusion to PTPA
British great Murray, who has always campaigned for the equal rights of women on the tennis tour, also claimed the women needed to be represented to send a strong message.
“I’m not against a player union or player association but right now…I feel like current ATP management should be given time to implement their vision,” he said.
“Whether that works out potentially could influence me in the future. And also the fact that the women aren’t part of it. I feel like that would send a significantly…well, just a much more powerful message, personally, if the WTA were onboard with it, as well.”
Raonic joins PTPA but doesn’t have answers
World No.30 Raonic was one member that joined the PTPA on Sunday.
But even Raonic didn’t have the answers to why women were not initially included in the breakaway group.
“I don’t know what the reason is...,” Raonic said when questioned about it.
Regarding the involvement of women in the PTPA; there is active dialogue with the women’s side. We recognize the importance of women’s tennis and their involvement. This should be evident by the separate movement that started last year where we had suppprt from over 70 of the top— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) August 30, 2020
But he also said the PTPA should represent both sides of the game.
“Yes, I think they should. At the end of the day, tennis is a sport. It’s inclusive to everybody. If you can hit a ball and you can do it properly at a pretty high level, everybody has an opportunity in this sport ” he added.
A leader of the PTPA, Pospisil, said there was ongoing talks with the women’s game about their involvement.
But fans were enraged with the image and a lack of women representation.
Novak Djokovic & co setting up a new players union without the gods Federer & Nadal or any women at all seems like a dumb ass move. If you’re going to form a breakaway choose your allies properly.— Georgie Bingham (@georgiebingham) August 29, 2020
Not at a time when men helping women fight for equality it isn’t. It just looks bad.— Georgie Bingham (@georgiebingham) August 30, 2020
I am shocked - floored, I tell you - that Novak Djokovic is in the middle of a move in men's professional tennis that excludes women from the table. Every time there's a gender-related controversy in pro tennis it somehow seems like his name finds its way into the story... https://t.co/qpCqInWu2p— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) August 29, 2020
Hang on! Only a few months ago we were loving tweets about a potential joint venture between Men and Women and now this! I don’t get it. 🤷🏻♂️ What changed? Novak Djokovic resigns as ATP player council president https://t.co/es9lDssjWO— Jason de la Peña 🇪🇸🇮🇳🇬🇧 (@jasondlp) August 30, 2020
Taking Djokovic's proposals for a new players union with a huge jar of salt as only always thinks of himself. His past actions on ATP Council do nothing to endorse him. If he was truly interested in player welfare all players including women players would have been included— Maria (@grigal) August 30, 2020