Roger Federer suggests merger of ATP and WTA tours

'It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time

FILE PHOTO: Roger Federer speaks during a media briefing  at Cape Town International Airport ahead of his exhibition tennis match against Rafael Nadal, in Cape Town, South Africa, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo
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Roger Federer has called for the men's and women's tours to merge in an effort to help lower-level players deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

"Just wondering ... am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men's and women's tennis to be united and come together as one?" the winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles said on Twitter.

"I am not talking about merging competition on the court, but merging the 2 governing bodies (ATP and WTA) that oversee the men's and women's professional tours ..."

The Swiss, 38, added: "It probably should have happened a long time ago, but maybe now is really the time. These are tough times in every sport and we can come out of this with 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body.

Loss of income due the coronavirus pandemic has already had a big impact on many lower-ranked tennis players.

American Mitchell Krueger, ranked 195th in the world, told the Associated Press he had started to look for unemployment benefits with no income since the tennis season was suspended in March.

The shutdown will continue at least until mid-July, depriving lower-level players, who depend solely on tournament winnings, of the chance to earn a living.

The men's ATP Tour, the WTA, along with the International Tennis Federation and organisers of the four Grand Slams, are creating a fund to help the lower-level players affected by the shutdown.