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Roger Federer has been accused of trying to win more followers on social media as the tennis world continues to discuss his controversial merger proposal.
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.
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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.”
He suggested tennis could emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic with unified leadership and found support from the likes of all-time great Billie Jean King and reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.
Federer’s call to action was widely praised, however not everyone was impressed.
One leading critic is German Tennis Federation (DTB) vice-president Dirk Hordorff, who has questioned the motivations behind the Swiss ace’s statement, which he says lacked “substance”.
"That's short thinking. That's not enough. It starts with the ITF [International Tennis Federation] and the grand slams. That's where you start,” Hordorff told Stats Perform.
"With a merger of ATP and WTA, no problem has been solved for the time being.
"It is also critical to demand this in these media-free times. He just needs more followers on his Twitter account. So, he uses a proposal without substance.
"I am in favour of discussing this whole issue with substance. But a message on Twitter can't seriously bring this forward."
Federer has 12.7million followers on Twitter, while the ATP has 1.5million and the WTA has 834,000. Wimbledon has 3.7million followers, more than any other grand slam.
Federer has gained only approximately 1,000 new followers since making his merger suggestion on Wednesday, according to analysis from the Socialbakers website.
Tennis Australia backs Federer’s call for change
However Tennis Australia didn’t agree with Kyrgios, giving their backing to Federer’s call for unity later on Thursday.
TA boss Craig Tiley has long been an advocate for less than the seven governing bodies in tennis - including the ITF and each of the national federations that run the four slams - and is adamant a merger would be far more lucrative for the sport.
“So is there a way where you bring those seven governing bodies together and you find a solution for a better a future, a future that puts more revenue into the system because the value's higher when combining the men and the women,” Tiley told AAP on Thursday.
“There's an opportunity to leverage off the asset of each other and success of each other.
“The objective of global sport should be ensuring that the lower-ranked players get paid more money, that there's more players making a living out of the game.
“So there has to be some sort of redistribution of the wealth or more revenue in the system - and more revenue in the system comes from aggregation and joining together.”