Roger Federer Says Player Union Worth Exploring But More Discussions Needed
Roger Federer believes tennis players forming their own union is an idea "worth exploring," but he "would have preferred discussion to remain in-house until a firmer stance was reached" after word got out of Novak Djokovic's speech at the annual player meeting prior to the start of the Australian Open this week, according to Courtney Walsh of THE AUSTRALIAN. Federer has an "open mind when it comes to the prospect of his peers unionising in a push for a greater share of the game's wealth," and sees "merit in the idea of a separate player union to negotiate prize money and conditions." However, he also "believes the current ATP Tour system has its strengths, including the vast improvements made in terms of remuneration for all players in recent years" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/18). Tennis Channel's Jim Courier said the idea of a union "totally makes sense," but a big challenge is that there are "players from different countries, with different scenarios and situations and needs." Courier: "It's tough to get everyone on the same page. But I do know this, if the reports of him saying that what we want is more money -- it's a little bit like running for Student Council, 'Less classes and more ice cream for everyone.' People will get behind this." Tennis Channel's Martina Navratilova: "If the top players get behind it, though, I think we'll be talking about it" ("Tennis Channel Live," 1/16).
PLAYERS DESERVE A UNION: In Australia, Matthew Syed writes Djokovic "is right" about forming a union, as players "deserve a bigger slice of the revenue of professional tennis." They should "dissolve the ATP, create a new union and fight for themselves." If they fail to do so, they will "only have themselves to blame for the fact that so few players make ends meet and most retire without enough money to retrain for a long retirement." Much of the response to Djokovic's speech on Monday has "focused on his career earnings" of $140M. But "too little of the reaction has focused on the big fat zero that so many talented players earn as they surf the tantalising line between anonymity and stardom" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/18). Rafael Nadal said of the recent players-only meeting in Australia and talk of reform led by Djokovic, "At some point [it's] good that the players speak between each other about what we want or what we don't want. That's all. Not about union or not union. Forget about this. Just speaking about what's the things that are right on the tour, what's the things that can be better" (TENNIS.com, 1/17).