A fund has been created for tennis players hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sport’s governing bodies announced on Tuesday, adding that they have contributed more than US$6 million.
In a joint statement, the ATP and WTA tours, the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open — said that the Player Relief Program would support those “who are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global impact of COVID-19.”
With the tennis season suspended until at least July 13, about “800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players” are in need of financial support, the statement said, adding that eligibility for the fund would be determined by a player’s ranking and previous prize money earnings.
The fund can be donated to via initiatives such as auctions, player donations and virtual tennis games, said the governing bodies, who last month announced talks about creating the program.
The virus has caused havoc to the calendar, with Wimbledon canceled for the first time since World War II and the French Open postponed until September.
The US Tennis Association is to decide next month whether the US Open is to take place.
However, despite the financial difficulties facing hundreds of players, the idea of a relief fund was dismissed by world No. 3 Dominic Thiem, who last month said that he would not give lower-ranked players his money.
“Quite honestly I have to say that no tennis player will be fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked,” Thiem said, speaking of a separate fund idea revealed by Novak Djokovic. “None of them are going to starve... I would rather give money to people or organizations that really need it.”
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