Tennis could “conquer the sport world” if the ATP and WTA Tours and the four Grand Slams set aside their differences, says Roger Federer’s agent Tony Godsick.
Steps to pool the commercial operations of the men’s and women’s circuits were proposed last year in a move that would see private equity take a stake in the new vehicle.
Sports business veteran Godsick, who set up management agency Team8 with Federer, says all parties would benefit from greater cooperation.
“If tennis – not just two tours, but the four Slams – got together it could conquer the sport world. It would be unstoppable. Everyone would have more,” he told City A.M.
“There’s too much fighting that goes on between our sport. If we channelled all that, and put it together and went and fought other sports and competed for the sponsorship dollars… I think it’d be amazing.”
A working group dubbed the T7, representing the two tours, four Slams and the International Tennis Federation, began talks about working together more closely in March last year but has not delivered any significant unification.
The onus is on organisers of the Wimbledon, the US Open, French Open and Australian Open, says Godsick, though he argues they too would be better off if they pooled their rights.
“If they sold their media together rather than as separate entities they would get more. There is zero chance they wouldn’t,” he added.
“Both sides don’t understand each other. People see this Slam makes this kind of money and then they just put it in their pocket and have big parties – that’s not the case.
“I do think there are ways that both sides can collaborate. I think with the T7 there was an attempt to do it. But it [the solution] is more dialogue.”
Federer set for tennis comeback at Laver Cup in London
Godsick and Federer’s Team8 already works closely with the men’s ATP Tour on the Laver Cup, a team competition modelled on golf’s Ryder Cup that launched in 2017.
It is due to visit the O2 for the first time in September, helping to soften the blow of the London venue being replaced as host of the season-ending ATP Finals to Turin last year.
Tickets have already sold for all three days of the competition, in which 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer, 40, hopes to make his comeback from knee surgery.
“We’re providing a platform to see the best men’s tennis players and you’re sort of guaranteed to see them play. That’s why I think the tickets have gone so well year after year,” Godsick said.
“I’d love to say it’s because we’re geniuses but no, it just came at the right time. There were a ton of these rivalries and we never saw an opportunity for these rivals to become team-mates.”
Federer helped to devise the format of the Laver Cup and remains an adviser to the event, which his company majority owns.
The Swiss superstar’s involvement is likely to increase when he eventually hangs up his racket, but more likely by succeeding Bjorn Borg as captain of Team Europe than becoming CEO.
“He was paramount in helping to create it, brainstorming the format and the whole concept, so I think he will always play a role in it, but to what extent I don’t know,” said Godsick. “But I know when he’s done playing that he’d love to be a captain one day. He’s got time.”
Laver Cup remains a men-only competition but Godsick says he sees the appeal of launching a women’s version and potentially a new mixed doubles event.
“I do see ourselves – and I know it’s been a discussion – working on a similar format for the women, so I could see something like that in the future,” he said.
“I’ve been playing around with trying to do a mixed doubles event, because I think it would be the most incredible thing if you had the biggest men’s stars with the biggest women’s stars. That’s why the slams work, combined events work. There is a recipe.
“Maybe we’ll do something with the women in a similar format or maybe we’ll create another event that combines the men and women together.”