Roger Federer has called for a merger between the men’s ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women’s circuit, as tennis remain suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown leaving many lower-ranked professionals, who solely depend on tournament winnings, without a livelihood for as long as the crisis continues. Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, floated the idea of a merger between the men’s Associations of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in a series of posts on Twitter. “We can come out of this with two weakened bodies or one stronger body," Federer said giving a reason to his argument. Nick Kyrgios, Sania Mirza Welcome Roger Federer’s Suggestion of Merging ATP & WTA (Read Tweets).

Tennis has been suspended since the Indian Wells tournament in March due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and the stoppage is set to continue until July 13 before the game can return to court under normal circumstances. The sudden and lengthy stoppage has left most without a proper earning with the lower-ranked players the worst-hit given their dependence on tournaments and prize money to earn a living. Roger Federer Turns his Twitter Timeline into A Gif Fest, From Looney Tunes to Tom & Jerry, Here’s What the Swiss Ace Posted in #FedererGifParty.

Roger Federer Proposes ATP-WTA Merger

“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?” Federer, one of the only two men to 100 and more career singles titles, said in a Tweet. "I am not talking about merging competition on the court but merging the two governing bodies that oversee the men's and women's professional tours.”

Come Out of the Crisis One Stronger Body!!

While the ATP and the WTA oversee their multiple tournaments in the tennis calendar, the sport is also governed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the respective boards of the four Grand Slams. the ATP also has a player's council, led by World No 1 Novak Djokovic, which looks into the prize money and other comforts of the players. The parity in the prize money and tournament brands between the ATP and WTA is also enormous.

“It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories,” Federer further stated in his reply to fans. “It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time. These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body.”

Billie Jean Kings Supports the Idea

Federer received enormous support just hours after his posts with American tennis legend Billie Jean King, one of the founders of the WTA, saying that a merger "has long been my vision for tennis". "The WTA on its own was always Plan B," added King, who one of the first 10 active players to be part of the women’s tennis association. "I'm glad we are on the same page. Let's make it happen."

Rafael Nadal Agrees a Merger Will Make Tennis Better

Rafael Nadal too echoed the same sentiments when he wrote: “I completely agree that it would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men's and women's tennis in one only organisation.” The idea was also backed by several other tennis players worldwide, including French Open and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep. Former Grand Slams champion Garbine Muguruza and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

Simona Halep Supports

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi also supported the merger. "Our sport has a big opportunity if we can come together in the spirit of collaboration and unity,” he said. "Recent cooperation between governing bodies has only strengthened my belief that a unified sport is the surest way to maximise our potential and to deliver an optimal experience for fans on site, on television and online. To that end, I welcome the views of our players."

Meanwhile, professional tennis tournaments has been officially suspended until July 13 with Wimbledon cancelled for this year for the first time since World War II while French Open has been postponed to September and the fate of several other tournaments hanging by the rope.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 23, 2020 09:19 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website