Tennis Tour: PIF Refutes $2 Billion Merger Offer

Photo of Tennis tour when PIF denies 2bn offer to merge tennis in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has distanced itself from reports suggesting a $2 billion “take-it-or-leave-it” proposition to merge tennis’s ATP and WTA Tours, stating it has no intention of disrupting the sport. The ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, reportedly briefed representatives of the nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in California about the proposal, advocating for the integration of the men’s and women’s tennis tour.

Gaudenzi is said to have indicated that the offer from PIF was “time-sensitive,” giving all parties involved 90 days to respond. While PIF has opted not to comment on these reports, sources have refuted claims of a set deadline, underscoring that discussions with various entities are ongoing. Additionally, Saudi sources have dismissed suggestions of PIF seeking to “purchase tennis,” expressing its aim to become part of the sport’s “existing ecosystem.”

In the previous month, the ATP Tour solidified a “multiyear strategic partnership” with PIF, underscoring the kingdom’s ongoing commitment to sports investment. Consequently, the ATP rankings and the year-end world No. 1 designation will carry the PIF’s name. Additionally, PIF will be featured in on-court branding at prominent ATP 1000 events such as Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Beijing, along with the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin.

In contrast to the disruptive impact of the PIF-backed LIV Golf Series in golf, Saudi Arabia’s approach to tennis prioritizes collaboration. Stakeholders emphasize their intent to work closely with existing governing bodies to promote participation among the general population in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is expected to be announced as the new host for the end-of-season finals for both the WTA and ATP tours, despite opposition from figures like Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

As reported in the Telegraph, the proposed deal with PIF would also entail Saudi Arabia hosting a Masters 1000 tournament during the opening week of the season. This initiative would directly challenge the mixed-gender United Cup team competition, currently held in Australia before the Australian Open, with Tennis Australia’s Craig Tiley reportedly strongly opposing the idea.

The four Grand Slam events have yet to finalize a new Premium Tour model aimed at integrating men’s and women’s tennis, thereby ensuring equitable pay for both genders. Negotiations between the ATP and WTA tours regarding a potential merger have been ongoing for some time.


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