(Reuters) - Tennis’s governing bodies and the organisers of the four Grand Slams said on Tuesday they will raise over $6 million to help players affected by the sport’s current shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The player relief program will target about 800 singles and doubles players collectively on the men’s and women’s tours, who are in need of financial support.
“The creation of the player relief program is a positive demonstration of the sport’s ability to come together during this time of crisis,” the governing bodies of world tennis, including the ATP and WTA, along with the International Tennis Federation, said in a joint statement.
“We will continue to collaborate and monitor the support required across tennis with the aim of ensuring the long-term health of the sport in the midst of this unprecedented challenge to our way of life, and our thoughts remain with all those affected at this time.”
The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women’s circuit, will administer the financial distributions of the program and all contributions will be split equally between men and women.
Eligibility for the program will take into account a player’s ranking as well as previous prize money earnings according to criteria agreed by all stakeholders.
While the fund from the seven stakeholders makes up the backbone of the program, funds raised through initiatives such as auctions and player donations are welcomed.
The professional tennis season was halted in early March due to the coronavirus pandemic until at least July 13, which makes it difficult for those in the lower echelons of the sport, who depend solely on tournament winnings, to earn a living.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis