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You Cannot Be Serious: John McEnroe Slams ATP’s Saudi Investment Talks

  • “I don't know why the hell tennis would suddenly talk to the Saudis after the debacle that you're watching in golf,” McEnroe says.
  • Fellow tennis legend Chris Evert labeled Saudi Arabia’s investments as “sportswashing.”
McEnroe "wouldn't encourage" the ATP's investment talks with Saudi Arabia.
Syndication: Desert Sun

Tennis legends John McEnroe and Chris Evert oppose a potential investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund into the ATP Tour.  

“I wouldn’t encourage it personally, the Saudi thing. I’m not surprised that tennis is being thrown into the mix after what we saw in golf,” McEnroe said Wednesday on a call with reporters. “I don’t think that’s something that we should be pursuing. It’s not in my hands.”

“I don’t know why in the hell tennis would suddenly be; let’s talk to the Saudis after the debacle that you’re watching in golf. To me, it’s comical that it’s even being brought up right now,” added McEnroe, a New York native and seven-time Grand Slam champion.  

ATP chair Andrea Gaudenz said earlier this week that the men’s tennis tour has had “positive” discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund about a potential investment. The Kingdom’s fund has bankrolled LIV Golf’s controversial merger with the PGA Tour, bought English Premier League club Newcastle United, and has committed billions to draw soccer stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to its Saudi Pro League.

“It looked to me like the PGA were total hypocrites when they cut a deal after they’ve been fighting [Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf], in my opinion,” said McEnroe. “At the same time, the people that are complaining about it, a lot of the people are hypocrites because our government does business with them along with tons of other hedge funds, wealth funds, you could down the list of people that have dealings.”

McEnroe’s impassioned comments came in an ESPN media call with Evert ahead of the duo’s Wimbledon coverage for the network, which begins July 1. This year’s Wimbledon tournament includes a record prize pool of $56.5 million.

“I think it’s sportswashing. I don’t think we need to go there,” Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam winner on the WTA Tour, said of Saudi Arabia’s sports investments. 

Nick Kygrios, the current 33rd-ranked player on the ATP Tour, emphatically celebrated the Tour’s investment talks with Saudi Arabia with a tweet that included 10 money bag emojis.

“Unfortunately, it’s like money talks, that’s all that matters. But I don’t think that’s all that matters,” McEnroe said. “Eventually, you get bought out. It’s like, at some point, someone will offer too much.”

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