- Tennis is looking at a major change courtesy of the rumoured entry of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF)
- Saudi’s PIF was anxious to make a major move into tennis since the start early 2023
- This is after their success in other sports such as football, golf and boxing
Tennis is looking at a major change courtesy of the rumoured entry of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund – PIF.
There were insights in the past couple of months claiming Saudi’s PIF was anxious to make a major move into tennis. This is after their success in other sports such as football, golf, boxing among others.
This week, eight of the top male and female tennis players are competing for enormous prize money in the ATP’s Next Gen Finals in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
With tennis in focus for the Arabs, there are now new theories suggesting that Saudi Arabia may play a much larger role in sports in the future than was first thought.
Saudi Arabian PIF Tennis Entry
There are rumors that the ATP is considering holding its tenth ATP Masters 1000 event in Saudi Arabia, maybe in the lead-up to the Australian Open in Melbourne, the first Grand Slam of the year.
The prize money and ranking points up for grabs at a Masters event in Saudi Arabia comes with a set of conditions.
It guarantees that all of the best players in the game will make that tournament their first focus at the beginning of the year.
If this happens, it means that warm-up tournaments in Australia will suffer because they are not as lucrative as Saudi’s.
How Will Saudi Arabian PIF Get into Tennis?
Speculation in town is that the PIF is thinking of taking a more expansive approach to tennis. Possibly by starting a breakaway tour that would take part in all four Grand Slam competitions.
Reporter Jon Wertheim of the Tennis Channel has ignited a discussion on X by highlighting rumours that have surfaced multiple times in the past few months.
The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open are the four major Grand Slams that shape the allure of tennis.
These four slams serve as the centrepiece of a redesigned tour that would include ten Masters series events, as well as an additional tournament in Saudi Arabia.
Rumours circulating in America indicate that the nine Masters 1000 events would be “bought out” and added to the new-look breakaway tour.
According to Wertheim, this would severely harm the ATP and WTA Tours’ future ambitions by leaving them in charge of lesser tennis tournaments.
Prominent participants in the game would likely need to be consulted and supportive of any such proposal. This would undoubtedly have the substantial financial support of the PIF.
The top players in the game are interested in participating in events in Saudi Arabia. Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are set for a lucrative exhibition match on December 26.
However, some former players suggest that tennis should take its human rights record into consideration before making too many commitments to new ventures.
The Saudi city Riyadh is reportedly set to host the WTA Finals in 2024, though this is yet to get an official confirmation.
Chris Evert, a legendary tennis player leads the opposition pack citing ill treatment of women in an advertent human rights breach.
“For me, I would prefer not to go to Saudi Arabia to play the WTA Finals. I would prefer the WTA not to go to Saudi Arabia. Obviously, they have human rights issues, just the way they treat women. I would be against it, but I don’t have a vote,” Evert stated.
Another legendary tennis player John McEnroe, who opposes the plan as well, offered his fair assessment of the possibility of tennis receiving a major investment from Saudi Arabia.
He said a lot of business owners who are key stakeholders in the sporting world are always travelling to Saudi and they all benefit.
However, he says ATP Tour and WTA do not need any support from Saudi but it is not up to them to decide this.
If these rumors are true, it appears that Saudi Arabia and tennis will have a tight relationship in the future. This could worry some of the established regulating bodies that now oversee the top tennis tournaments.
Naturally, the PIF’s desire to have a significant influence on international sports is not going away. So these rumors could also guarantee that the WTA and ATP welcome Saudi funding.