The disparity in earnings in tennis is huge, with top-tanked players making a fortune in prize money while the those making up the lower rungs struggling if there are no tournaments. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: The two main bodies of professional tennis have decided to come together in principle to provide a ‘COVID-19 Player Relief Programme’ with an eye towards helping players in the lower rungs.

The two bodies – the men’s ATP and women’s WTA – are in advanced discussions and details will be finalised along with an announcement in the near future, as per a statement from the two bodies.

It has been agreed in principle is that the WTA and ATP will administer the Player Relief Programme, while all seven stakeholders involved in professional tennis will make a significant contribution to the fund that will provide much-needed assistance to players who are particularly affected during this time of crisis.

“The health and safety of everyone involved in tennis is the absolute priority for all the governing bodies, and the tennis community has been unwavering in playing its part in limiting the spread of the infection,” the statement said.

“This is particularly true of our players, with so many engaging their fans through messages of hope while reiterating the importance of staying safe at home, as well as demonstrating creative ways to stay fit and practice our sport to be ready for when the time comes that play can begin again,” it added.

“We know that for our players, as well as for so many people worldwide, there is the need for financial support for those who need it most and we look forward to finalising and sharing further details of a plan in due course.”

Earlier this month, Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou had called on tennis governing bodies to come together and devise a way of helping lower level professionals struggling financially due to the coronavirus shutdown.

In a letter posted on Twitter and addressed to the tennis community, Mouratoglou said the current situation showed how “dysfunctional” the sport was.

“Unlike basketball or football players, tennis players aren’t covered by fixed annual salaries. They’re independent contractors,” he said.

“They’re paying for their travels. They’re paying fixed salaries to their coaching staffs, while their own salaries depend on the number of matches they win.”