Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Petra Kvitova, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.BENGALURU: The big purses in tennis are claimed by the elite of the sport, the structure is such. Vijay Amritraj feels there isn’t much non-profit organizations like the ATP and WTA Tours can do even in these desperately dark times, when players have lost their livelihood and lower-ranked pros are struggling to make ends meet. Indian superstar Amritraj, who has worn several hats including that of Player Council president, underlined that a more equitable distribution of prize money was an issue the boards needed to address, but didn’t see much hope in the agenda, given that star power drives the sport. The top-heavy prize-money arrangement has been long criticized, most recently by Serena Williams ’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou who, in an open letter on Twitter, raised the question of financial stability of the 100th-ranked player in the world. “I find it revolting that the 100th-best player of one of the most popular sports in the world is barely able to make a living out of it,” the Frenchman wrote, adding that professional tennis operated under a “dysfunctional” system. Speaking to TOI from his Los Angeles home, Amritraj said it’s the rockstars of the court — Roger Federer , Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic , Serena Williams — who power the sport. The big money is being spent on those ranked between 10 and 50, I’m not talking about the quality of play here, we all know how good that is, but do they sell the sport?” he asked, before stretching the question to the backend. There’s no money coming from anywhere to look after anyone.” Amritraj, who championed the players’ pension scheme almost 30 years ago, wondered if the Tours could go back to tournaments and ask for a percentage to be put aside for times like this. “The discussion then was whether there should be big discrepancies in the winner and runner-up checks, the runner-up and the semifinalists and all the way down,” Amritraj said of 30 years ago, when the Tour as we know it today came into being. I’m not saying that the sport should have a socialist form of financial arrangement, but it was a discussion worth having.” Amritraj added, “We come from a country where we believe there shouldn’t be such discrepancies.
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