Patrick Mouratoglou, who made his name by being Serena Williams’ coach these past few years, has decided to modernise the game of tennis and appeal more to the younger generation.
I don’t plan to be a competitor to the ATP and the WTA. My plan is to bring new fans to the game Patrick Mouratoglou
It’s nothing new. Every decade discussions focus on what can be done to improve the sport’s image and attract a younger audience so the Frenchman’s call is not new.
“For many years I have been worried about the future of tennis. The average age of a tennis fan is 61, which is very old for a fan base,” Mouratoglou told Reuters.
“Tennis is failing to renew its fanbase. And that’s very worrying, because the future doesn’t look bright.”
And his answer?
A new league which he is launching at his Academy in Nice next Saturday which he says reflects ‘new tennis’.
“I mean different tennis. Taking into consideration what was better back in the 1970s and the 80s and also bringing some modernity,” he said in an interview with the news agency.
“I’m excited to showcase that and to see if this is much more attractive to the younger generation.”
The league, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) will feature ten players including the likes Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and David Goffin, and compete in a round-robin format over five weeks with 10 matches a weekend, with prize money on offer for each of them.
All played behind closed doors.
One of the features Mouratoglou wants to promote is the emotional side of the sport so the players will not be sanctioned for any outbursts which he believes will provide the tennis fans with additional entertainment when they watch the livestream of the matches on utslive.tv.
In addition, fans watching from home, will be able to listen in on coach-player conversations and question players during changeovers. Also, the games will be shorter.
“It’s a real competition and it’s a new tour,” he said. “The players are going to win points; they’re going to earn prize money. And at the end of the year there will be a champion.
“So they’re going to really compete with the same motivation as if they were playing a tournament.”
The Frenchman believes fans currently miss the personalities of yore, namely John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase and Yannick Noah, all players with distinctive personalities which they either loved or hated.
“I want authenticity, I don’t want players to make a show. I want players to be able to be themselves on court and express all kinds of emotions,” said Mouratoglou.
“The idea is to create the tennis of the future,” said Mouratoglou who plans to donate moneys raised to a fund for lower ranked players feeling the financial strains caused by the current Covid-19 pandemic. “I don’t plan to be a competitor to the ATP and the WTA. My plan is to bring new fans to the game.
“And if it works, and if the ATP and the WTA want to have the UTS under their umbrella, I’ll be happy to.”