Earlier this week, the controversial Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) reappeared with the announcement that men’s former World No 1 Novak Djokovic and women’s World No 2 Ons Jabeur were named on its first Executive Committee, prompting a response from the WTA Tour.
All [WTA] decisions are made with the players and tournaments together, being equally represented. Players are at the table where the decision making takes place, and their voice is well represented in all decisions that the WTA makes. For any organisation to be successful, we do believe it has to be willing to listen to its members, and the various perspectives of such members that make up the organisation. WTA Spokesperson
Djokovic was instrumental in the creation of the PTPA, having resigned as President of the ATP Player Council in 2020 to launch the breakaway organisation, which aims to put power into the hands of the players and to raise prize money across the board.
Little has been heard from the PTPA in the past two years, until it unveiled a 1100-word manifesto statement [Click HERE] on Wednesday, and announced its Executive Committee of 8 current players, including 4 men and 4 women.
The manifesto outlines the PTPA’s main aims, which include instituting a guaranteed minimum income and a higher percentage of tournament revenue devoted to prize money.
Initially, the PTPA was criticised when it launched in 2020 with a photo taken at the US Open featuring nearly 100 male players, but no women.
The PTPA named Ahmad Nassar as its Executive Director in August of 2022, who is charged with overseeing the development of player services and advocacy programs, such as the PTPA’s Player Services Platform.
Additionally, Nassar serves as CEO of Winners Alliance, the for-profit affiliate of the PTPA dedicated to generating and maximising off-court commercial opportunities for players and their agents.
“Having a players association that unconditionally cares for every tennis player is incredibly important, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to take this organisation to the next level,” Nasser said at the time.
Prior to joining the PTPA, Nassar served 3 years as Founding CEO of OneTeam Partners, a group licensing, marketing, and media powerhouse representing the commercial interests of women’s and men’s athletes across multiple sports.
Before that, Nassar led NFL Players Inc. as President, and helped grow the NFL Players Association’s marketing and licensing business into one of the largest for-profit licensors in sports, doubling annual revenue and payouts to players during his tenure.
The PTPA Player Executive Committee appointments this week are as follows:
- Paula Badosa: (current No 13 in the world) Spanish professional ranked as high as No 2 in the world in women’s singles; winner of three women’s singles titles.
- Novak Djokovic: (current No 5 in the world) PTPA co-founder and Serbian professional tennis player and winner of 21 Grand Slam men’s singles titles; winner of 96 men’s singles titles and one men’s doubles title.
- Hubert Hurkacz: (current No 10 in the world) Polish professional; winner of five men’s singles titles and four men’s doubles titles.
- John Isner: (current No 41 in the world) American professional ranked as high as No 8 in the world in men’s singles; winner of 16 men’s singles titles and eight men’s doubles titles.
- Ons Jabeur: (current No 2 in the world) Tunisian player and highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player in WTA and ATP history; winner of three women’s singles titles.
- Bethanie Mattek-Sands: American professional with nine Grand Slam titles (five in women’s doubles and four in mixed doubles); winner of 27 women’s doubles titles.
- Vasek Pospisil: (current No 98 in the world) PTPA co-founder and Canadian professional ranked as high as No 25 in men’s singles and No 4 in men’s doubles; winner of seven men’s doubles titles.
- Zheng Saisai: Chinese professional ranked as high as No 34 in women’s singles; winner of one women’s singles title and five women’s doubles titles.
The PTPA claims the committee ‘will contribute their diversified perspectives and career experiences to this important new leadership body’ and is ‘centred on advancing player rights, growing and improving the business of tennis’.
“We are all unequivocally committed to representing every player during this incredibly important time in the sport of tennis” Mattek-Sands said. “The sports entertainment environment is constantly evolving, and I have a particular focus on supporting and elevating women by aggressively pursuing and creating opportunities with a female focused approach.
“This, too, is a strong focus of the PTPA, represented by our organisational principles and for me, personally. I am genuinely excited to make an impact and pioneer change.”
Speaking in Adelaide last week, Djokovic said: “When it comes to PTPA, a player organisation that is 100 percent devoted to players, we don’t have anything like that in tennis.”
The 35-year-old admitted that ‘we were not accepted and embraced by Grand Slams, ATP nor WTA, so it makes things difficult for us’.
“But this association needs to live,” Djokovic added. “It needs to be there because players don’t have 100 percent representation in the tennis world, unfortunately.”
The WTA has hit back at PTPA, and defended itself against the suggestion that players are not adequately represented in a growing political storm that strikes at the very heart of the sport, adding that it has had no contact with the organisation, despite their promise to ‘advocate on behalf of tennis players globally’.
The WTA believes that its members’ viewpoint is ‘paramount to the culture and decision-making process of the WTA’.
“All decisions are made with the players and tournaments together, being equally represented,” a WTA spokesperson said. “Players are at the table where the decision making takes place, and their voice is well represented in all decisions that the WTA makes.
“For any organisation to be successful, we do believe it has to be willing to listen to its members, and the various perspectives of such members that make up the organisation.
“The WTA respects the players’ thoughts and positions, and we are always willing to find a balanced decision that’s in the best interest of the business, the organisation and the sport.
“The WTA prides itself in listening and problem solving together as an organisation alongside its members, and it is paramount for all of us to continue to work together, as we truly believe and have witnessed since the inception of the WTA that we are stronger together.”
It is generally believed that professional tennis already has too many organisations involved in the governance of the sport, with the WTA and ATP, the ITF and the 4 Grand Slams, and that adding another negotiating body such as the PTPA to the mix is not helpful in uniting the game.