How can tennis best help low-ranked players?
Match Points is a talk show about tennis, hosted by Josh Cohen for Tennis Majors. In this extract, Josh asks former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli how the Tours might best spread the wealth further down the rankings
For episode 3 of Match Points, our three guests are former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, the ATP world number 225 Noah Rubin (founder of Behind the Racquet) and the American tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg.
The ATP, WTA and ITF have joined forces to create a Player Relief Fund to help the lower-ranked players, most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, but the debate about how best to fund the Tour continues to rage on.
Host Josh Cohen asks our three guests what’s the best solution to help players ranked outside the top 100 and Bartoli has a radical, and potentially unpopular, solution.
“I know I’m not going to make myself friends but I think we have to say it: I don’t understand all these doubles competitions all year round. I understand during Grand Slams and the Olympics because doubles is part of tennis history (but) I’ve been to some tournaments now with my player and I see now, these (doubles) players, they have crews, like six people around them. When I was a player, as a singles player, we couldn’t afford to pay six people to travel with us full-time. They can afford to pay six people and they just play doubles!
Bartoli, who won three doubles titles and played more than 200 doubles matches across her career, said she felt the best way to spread the wealth on Tour would be to divert some money from doubles to singles.
“Why don’t you get some of that money to qualifiers, to someone who plays only Challengers? I just don’t understand because in doubles, you just don’t make the same effort as a singles player. You don’t practice as much….they keep going, week in and week out, getting that money. I don’t know if we have to stop doubles completely, but to get less money and give that money to qualification and others, that should be a solution.”