Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the latest bombshell the tennis community is grappling with.
The thing with having so much free time on our hands during this global pandemic, we wrote in this space a week ago, is that it can bring out the good as well as the bad in people.
Remember? Well, the great Roger Federer is among those folks with plenty of time on his hands and he’s apparently decided to use the extra time to, like, become an actual person with actual opinions?
Alright, we kid we kid. But seriously, it’s been quite the ride watching the beloved Federer and his typical no-commenting self, the guy who’s made a career out of sidestepping any possible controversy, make an about-face and suddenly start caring about things enough to lend his name to causes we didn’t necessarily expect him to care for.
It’s like when there is tennis to play then all Federer wants to do is discuss and play tennis matches but now that there are suddenly no tennis left, then the Swiss is ready to look at other things and causes. Never our favourite, the 38-year-old has suddenly become one of the most interesting players in the world—and it’s no thanks to his tennis prowesses.
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?
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 22, 2020
With the above tweet, the great Federer just about lit up the tennis universe and the race was on to collect the opinion and thoughts on every and anyone on the matter. What did Nadal think? Well, he told us all on his own. How about tennis legend Billie Jean King? She was all for it, though you didn’t need to read her tweet to know this: she’s advocated for this since the 1970s. Serena Williams replied to Roger, then deleted the tweet, and so did Simona Halep as well as basically anyone and everyone who’s a somebody. Nick Kyrgios. WTA chairman Steve Simon and ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.
Vasek Pospisil also chimed in—and you might not see this as a big deal because the Canadian is only ranked No. 93 in the world but it’s a big deal when an ATP Player Council member chips in. And not only did he chip in, but he added some much needed context.
— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) April 22, 2020
Suddenly, this potential merger moved from a pseudo possibility pulled from the vapes of a (probably very) bored 38-year-old with nothing else to do and more than 12 million followers on Twitter, and into something that had much, much more relevancy.
Could the ATP and WTA governing bodies, created respectively in 1972 and 1973, actually merge? In an immediate future, the answer appears to be a resounding no if only because the logistics of such a momentous move would be absolutely stupendous. But if they had discussed this possibility in earnest, then it might be closer than we think of happening.
Which is to say: could the two bodies merge in a near to long-term future? It’s tough to say right now since the global pandemic has sort of compressed the entire timeline we live in and everything happens in the present for us every single day, with little hope of looking ahead. We barely even know if and when the French Open will be held in 2020, let alone whether the ATP and WTA might merge together.
We can say that historically, the big stumbling block to such a merger has been the reluctance of the men’s tour to give up any ground—and why would they have? The ATP has always been a juggernaut and the one with the most to lose among the two tours. But a global pandemic like the one we are all currently living in manages to level the playing field: we’re all miserable together these days, you know? So why not work together toward something greater than all of us and which could benefit all of us?
And if you’re a tennis player, before long you might be represented by one single and unified governing body.
Maybe some good can come out of COVID-19 and this lost season.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG