Tennis at a Crossroads: Will Saudi Arabia Reshape the Sport?

This kind of move could create a rift between the elite players and the slightly weaker ones

by Sededin Dedovic
Tennis at a Crossroads: Will Saudi Arabia Reshape the Sport?
© Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

Tennis fans are abuzz with speculation about a potential revolution in the sport, as reports suggest Saudi Arabia is eyeing a major overhaul of the tournament's structure. The latest rumors stem from comments from tennis journalist John Wertheim, who claims to have heard whispers in tennis circles about a possible "Super Tour" headlined by four Grand Slam tournaments.

Under this proposed format, the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open would together buy the remaining nine Masters 1000 tournaments, along with a planned tenth Masters 1000 tournament to be hosted by Saudi Arabia.

This would create a daunting circuit of 14 elite tournaments, leaving the ATP and WTA to manage the remaining 500 and 250 series tournaments. Such a move would undoubtedly cause significant division within the tennis world, further stratifying the elite players from those outside the top 50 or 100.

Tennis doesn't need money

While some welcome the possibility of increased prize money and a simplified tournament schedule, others express concern about the potential for Saudi Arabia to exert undue influence on the sport.

Tennis legend John McEnroe is among those opposed to Saudi Arabia's investment, arguing that the sport does not need the money and that it would set a dangerous precedent. "There are a lot of hypocrites sitting around saying golf or tennis shouldn't accept this, while at the same time tons of businessmen, including our governments and many others, are doing business with them," McEnroe said.

"And all of a sudden it's unheard of for athletes to do something like that. Despite all that, I wouldn't do it. I don't think it's necessary for our sport. I don't see the benefit and personally I don't think we need it. But, like Chris Evert said, it's not up to us.

Someone else will decide. I don't understand why we're going in that direction." The possibility of the WTA Finals being held in Saudi Arabia has also been mooted, although this has yet to be confirmed. It remains to be seen whether this proposed "Super Tour" will materialize and whether Saudi Arabia will actually play a more significant role in the future of the sport.