Tennis is having a reckoning with its schedule, governing structure, and competitive format. The sport is played across the world with countries producing top players, integrating men and women successfully. Professional matches unfold almost every day, but the sport is considered by many to be broken, exhausting for its players, and in constant conflict. The sport’s leaders, players, organizers, sponsors, and coaches all agree that tennis is a structural mess. The sport consists of seven, maybe nine or ten governing bodies, causing a constant struggle for power and territory.
Even those who have their investments at stake agree that a clearly defined, premium tennis tour that includes both men and women and doesn’t overtax stars is what tennis needs. While the details remain to be managed, the formula is one that other successful sports use. Tennis has tried to create versions of this before, resulting in battles over territory, power, and money. However, this time, the internal and external pressure to change or be changed feels different, suggesting that a significant change is on the horizon.
The tennis season is getting underway in Australia with a plan to establish a premier tour, which many in the sport agree would be a good start. The sport comes together at Wimbledon each year, where deals are made and news is exchanged. Recently, there were rumors of a deal with Saudi Arabia to deliver a top tournament to the kingdom. The plan was to invite the Saudis into the upper echelons of the game to prevent them from launching a major new event. However, this idea was met with resistance from Tiley, the leader of Tennis Australia, who has been pushing for a new tennis tour that would resemble Formula One.
Craig Tiley’s push for a tennis tour that resembles Formula One has gained momentum, especially within the nascent players group that Novak Djokovic co-founded three years ago. A formal proposal is expected in the coming weeks. One industry executive explained why he was optimistic that change was on the way, citing external forces such as Saudi Arabia and the increasingly influential PTPA. These changes in the external landscape have encouraged the industry to consider and pursue major restructuring in ways that have never been feasible before.