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August 26, 2022

Djokovic’s PTPA hires Nassar to lead players association, new commercial arm

The Winners Alliance will look to boost the commercial interests of member players.

By Susan Lingeswaran

The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), the trade association founded by world number one Novak Djokovic and Canadian Vasek Pospisil in 2020, has made a series of major announcements as it looks to strengthen its standing in the industry.

The organization, which advocates on behalf of players in the sport, announced the appointment of industry veteran Ahmad Nassar as its executive director, the formation of a new commercial arm, and a substantial round of new funding.

He will also serve as chief executive of Winners Alliance, the newly launched for-profit arm of the PTPA which will look to form a group-licensing business in an industry that has traditionally been an individual sport with individual partnerships.

Nassar said: “I am excited to continue my career working to empower world-class athletes at the PTPA.

“Having a players association that unconditionally cares for every tennis player is incredibly important, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to take this organization to the next level.”

Nassar joins the PTPA after serving three years as chief executive of player licensing firm OneTeam Partners, representing the commercial interests of women’s and men’s athletes across multiple sports.

Before that, he led NFL Players Inc. as president and helped grow the NFL Players Association’s marketing and licensing business into one of the largest for-profit licensors in sports.

Pospisil said: “Ahmad is the perfect choice. He brings an unrivaled set of experiences and expertise working with women’s and men’s athletes across many sports.

“As we continue to build our player leadership and base, I know Ahmad’s perspective, background in licensing and marketing, and success in unlocking huge value for players and their associations will be a major asset.

“Players want an independent voice and a real seat at the table. With the launch and funding of Winners Alliance, we are now well resourced to make a material difference in players’ lives.”

The PTPA also announced the Winners Alliance has secured $26 million in new funding from Pershing Square Foundation, led by billionaire Bill Ackman, as well as private equity firm Prysm Capital and Nassar.

The arm will be seeking to secure more value for players that sign up to the PTPA by negotiating with tours and tournaments for improvements in player compensation, benefits, and scheduling of tournaments and games.

The organization will also establish a group-purchasing program for base needs while touring including travel, food, accommodation, insurance, tax, and legal services to lower expenses for players who have traditionally been individually responsible for such aspects.

The Winners Alliance board of directors will now consist of Ackman as chair, Christina Francis, president of Magic Johnson Enterprises and the former chief marketing officer of the Orange Bowl and NFL Players Association; Prysm Capital co-founders Jay Park and Muhammad Mian, and Nassar himself.

 Ackman said: “I have had a lifelong passion for tennis, both as a player and a fan, but have long recognized the challenge that most professional tennis players experience due to the sport’s inferior economic for all but the very top of the rankings ladder.

“I could not be more optimistic about the opportunity to partner with Ahmad and Vasek and the new team they are building to help revolutionize the economics of the game for the players and to accelerate the growth and sustainability of the sport to benefit all participants in the tennis ecosystem.”

Last year, the PTPA struck a multi-year strategic partnership with the marketing platform Opendorse. Under that deal, PTPA members were given access to Opendorse’s range of business development tools including Opendorse Ready, Opendorse Social, and Opendorse Deals.

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