Female players to be part of new association, says Djokovic
Novak Djokovic, the world number one men’s tennis player, has said he is in discussions with the sport's leading women about joining his new players’ association, adding he has been “unpleasantly surprised” at some of the opposition to the plans.
Before the start of the US Open, Djokovic resigned as head of the ATP player council, to join Vasek Pospisil, John Isner and Sam Querrey, to form the Professional Tennis Players’ Association.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Djokovic said: “Right now we are prioritising to gather as many players as possible, both male and female players, because there’s been a lot of talk about this being an only men’s organisation or association, and it’s not true.
“We have been talking with the women tennis players in the last five, six days, trying to share as much information with them as possible, and hopefully get their support and get them in as well in big numbers as part of this association.”
There has been criticism of the all-male line-up of the PTPA but Djokovic insisted he had already spoken to women’s tennis legend Serena Williams and other female players about joining the association.
Djokovic’s comments came ahead of his controversial exit from the US Open on Sunday as he was disqualified for accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball during his fourth round match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.
The ATP was set up by players in 1972 to represent male players but its board now includes representatives of tournament owners as well. The WTA run’s the women’s tour.
Djokovic also reiterated his previous stance that the PTPA wants to co-exist with governing bodies while giving the players a bigger platform to be heard on decisions which affect their livelihoods.
He said: “I feel like we can all co-exist in the same ecosystem. It’s very important for tennis players, being part of a very global sport, to have their own 100 per cent player-only representation.”
However, Djokovic’s plans have been met by opposition from the governing bodies, who have called for unity at a time when the sport has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Player council members Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have echoed calls for unity, while other players, including British legend Andy Murray, have asked for more clarity and time over the matter.
Djokovic said: “I don’t know why there is so much resistance towards this association, especially from players. I have to say I’m unpleasantly surprised with some players thinking this not good for our sport. I don’t agree.”
Earlier this year, top players led by Federer backed the idea of a merger between the ATP and WTA as a possible way forward to create a much stronger administration of the sport.