ATP Chief Brad Drewett Announces He Has ALS, Will Soon Step Down From Post
ATP World Tour Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett shockingly announced that he would soon resign because he has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease). Drewett, who has been in his role for more than a year, but with the ATP for 35 years in some form as a player or administrator, made the sad announcement during the start of the Australian Open. Drewett has worked tirelessly during the last year seeking dramatic changes in prize money from the Grand Slams, which he won from the Australian Open. During that time he spoke with an unusually soft voice, which he said was due to problems with his vocal cords. It is unclear if the voice issue is related to ALS. Drewett said, "It has been a privilege to serve as Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, an organization that I've been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player. I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it's with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill-health." He will continue in his current role on an interim basis as the ATP board of directors begins the search process for his successor in the near future. Drewett was recently named one of SportsBusiness Journal’s "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business" for the work he had done on the Grand Slam prize money issue. WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement, “The thoughts and prayers of the WTA family are with Brad, his family and the entire ATP community at this very difficult time” (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
A FRIEND TO MANY: In Sydney, Courtney Walsh wrote Roger Federer, who as president of the ATP Tour Players Council "dealt with Drewett on several issues including negotiations that led to a massive increase in prize money" for this Australian Open, was "shattered when told" the news. Federer said, "I saw him yesterday and he told me the news. I was very emotional." Andy Murray, too, was "dispirited after being told of the illness." Murray said, "It's obviously tough to hear. He's a positive influence on the game. It is shocking news, and I am very sad" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/16). Australian coach and analyst Darren Cahill, who has long been a friend of Drewett's, said: "I felt sick when the news came out today. Sometimes the worst things happen to the best people. We don't know why, but he's always been a great friend to us and always will be, and our love and support goes to him and his family and his three kids" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/15).