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Tennis Grand Slams Reportedly Want a Formula 1-Style Tour

  • Potential union of sport's largest events would represent historic transformation.
  • Numerous hurdles remain, including revenue sharing and syncing of commercial rights.
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Tennis’s Grand Slam tournaments are mulling over a massive restructuring that could not only reshape the landscape of the major pro game, but create a windfall for the sport in the process. 

Each of the four Grand Slams is looking to partner with other top tournaments to create a premium tour somewhat similar to that of Formula 1, according to The Athletic. Such a move would represent perhaps the largest overhaul of the sport’s competitive structure since the formation of the ATP Tour in the early 1990s. 

The move seeks to achieve several critical goals — and chief among them, unsurprisingly, is money. A more collective media rights package would allow a winning bidder to be the home of most, if not all, top-flight tennis and would almost certainly lead to more aggregate dollars than the currently divided rights. A similar dynamic would likely exist for sponsorship, too. 

Such a radical shift, however, would require time to sync up the various rights, as well as striking agreements on revenue sharing among the tournaments and governing bodies. A plan could be ready for formal presentation to various stakeholders by the Australian Open in January.

A more streamlined competitive schedule would guard against player fatigue and be easier for fans to follow — a key consideration as leaders within the sport look to elevate top events outside the Grand Slams.

“We want to grow our premium product, and that’s a fact that we’ve been very vocal about,” Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Tour CEO, told a group of journalists recently in Italy. “For the sport, closing the gap between the Masters and the Slams is good for everybody. Now, there is a very big gap.”

Lessons Learned

A large-scale commercial union within tennis is also designed to protect the sport from the type of disruption unfolding in golf, as seen with the still-unsettled merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. 

The Saudi-backed PIF, however, could still be involved in this new venture given its immense resources, though in this case such a deal would be pushed through more proactively than its golf counterpart.

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