The ATP and the WTA Tour want the Grand Slam tournaments to hand out more money. The professional tours urged the chairmen of the US Open, Wimbledon, French Open and Australian Open on March 17 to commit more of those events' profits to prizes, health benefits and pension programs. Representatives of the tours and Grand Slams spoke during the Australian Open in January about how they can work together to promote tennis. The four major tournaments are overseen by the International Tennis Federation rather than the professional tours. Prize money at ATP events has decreased about 10 per cent over the past three years to just over $55 million in 2003, with the largest drop in payments for doubles. The men's prize money at the Grand Slam events rose 13 per cent to a combined total of about $22.4 million last year. The Grand Slam Committee met last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, and issued a statement Monday outlining suggestions for improvements to the sport:
- a longer off-season (at least two months);
- a series of combined or back-to-back men's and women's tournaments;
- a combined year-end tournament;
- more emphasis on Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Olympic tennis.
In their response, the ATP and WTA Tour said, "While we appreciate the Grand Slams' comments regarding the need for them to support the international promotion of the game, and to provide fair rewards for professional players, we also remain concerned that their view of what is appropriate investment towards these ends is significantly less than what is required.'' Another area of disagreement: The Grand Slams don't want the ATP and WTA Tour to have a third combined tournament, along with the Pacific Life Open and the Nasdaq-100 Open, that lasts eight days or more. ATP CEO Mark Miles and WTA Tour CEO Kevin Wulff have said they hope to put such an event in Europe as soon as 2005. Up to 200 players are expected to attend an ATP membership meeting today, the day before the Nasdaq-100 Open starts. (AP)