A fund for tennis players hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic has been created, the sport’s governing bodies announced on Tuesday, adding that they had contributed more than $6 million (5.3 million euros).
In a joint statement, the ATP and WTA tours, the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open – said the Player Relief Programme will 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, some “800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players” are in need of financial support, the statement continued, with eligibility for the fund determined by a player’s ranking and previous prize money earnings.
The fund can also be donated to via initiatives including auctions, player donations and virtual tennis games, added the governing bodies, who last month announced talks about creating the programme.
The virus has caused havoc to the calendar, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II and the French Open postponed until the end of September.
The United States Tennis Association will decide in mid-June whether or not the US Open will take place in New York.
However despite the financial difficulties facing hundreds of players, the idea of a relief fund was dismissed by world number three Dominic Thiem, who said last month 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 organisations that really need it.”