Novak Djokovic has insisted that the players union he co-founded is required in tennis as it speaks up for lower-ranked players on the Tour.
The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) was launched in 2020 by the 22-time Grand Slam champion along with Vasek Pospisil. The organization states that its objective is to try to give players more power in the sport’s decision-making process but it has been criticized for trying to divide the sport. At the time of its launch the ATP Players Council, which Djokovic resigned from in order to set up the breakaway association, advised their peers not to join.
Despite the backlash that occurred, the world No.1 continues to stand by his organization who also has John Isner listed as a director on their financial documentation even though the American has never publicly commented on his involvement.
“We have thousands, tens of thousands of players that are competing around the world. Unfortunately only 400 to 500, both men and women, singles, doubles, mixed, live from this sport,” Djokovic said following his 6-2, 6-3, win over Tallon Griekspoor at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
“That’s something that I feel like not many people want to talk about, but I feel like it’s super important to always remind ourselves that we are, by some statistics, third or fourth most globally watched sports. 1.3 billion people watch it, yet we can’t have more than 400 people living from this sport, both men and women. I think we have to put that in our mind and really think about whether this sport is doing great or not.”
Djokovic says he has previously called for the sporting bodies to unite in order to address the lack of financial aid for more players. The sport consisted of seven governing bodies – the ATP, WTA, ITF and each of the four Grand Slam tournaments which have their own governance. In recent years these bodies have increased their prize money for players.
“Divisions are definitely not something that PTPA stands for. We actually want to unite, we want to represent more the voices of the players that are normally not heard, that you normally don’t get a chance to speak to or see them.” Djokovic commented.
“We have to do a better job, we have to create a better system for them (lower ranked players) to make a living, at least break even. I think if you’re 200 in the world, you can’t travel with a coach. This is not good enough.”
As for what the PTPA plans to do in the coming months, the Serbian were coy about their intentions. Instead, he said the ‘strategic points, directions and priorities’ of the organization will be outlined in due course by CEO Ahmad Nassar. Nassar was previously the president of NFL Players Inc which is the marketing arm of the National Football League Players Association.
This week Djokovic is spending a record 378th week as world No.1. He is currently on a 19-match winning streak on the Tour which began last November at the season-ending championships in Turin.
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