Britain’s Johanna Konta reacts during the match against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur - Reuters
MUMBAI (Reuters): British number one Johanna Konta feels a merger of the women’s governing WTA tennis body with the men’s ATP makes sense but stressed it must only be on equal terms. Roger Federer last month called for a merger between the two organisations, with the Women’s Tennis Association chief Steve Simon and Association of Tennis Professionals Tour Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi welcoming the suggestion.
Konta, who sits on the WTA player council, has joined some of her fellow women professionals in calling for an equal position in any combined body in the future. “For me, for my comprehension, I don’t understand how it wouldn’t be of equals because if we are then talking about that, would it be us literally saying we are worth less than our male counterparts?” the world number 14 told British media.
“It would have to be a merger of equals because that’s what we are. I wouldn’t see how, right now in today’s age, it would be allowed to be called anything else.” As many as seven associations run different parts of tennis in the world. Besides the ATP and the WTA Tours, the sport is also controlled by the International Tennis Federation and the boards of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
Currently viewers need different pay-TV platforms to watch tennis matches and a merger of the Tours could simplify television contracts and sponsorship deals. The men’s and women’s players have a separate ranking system while some rules, including on-court coaching, are also different. American great Billie Jean King had called for a unified governing body for men and women years ago but the 29-year-old Konta feels Federer’s comments have brought attention back to the topic.
“I definitely think in the long run it makes sense for it to be one tour, it makes logical sense but I also know there are a lot of moving parts to it, and I know there will be a lot of people who won’t want it to happen, but also a lot of people who do want it to happen,” Konta added.