From the blog

SAUDI ARABIA: The Kingdom’s $1b Proposal To Take Control Of Tennis

Following months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the leaders of the men’s and women’s professional tours are attempting to secure financial viability with at least $1billion of investment from Saudi Arabia.

The move comes amid mounting tension in the sport, which players and executives say is primed to undergo the sort of once-in-a-generation realignment filled with rich promises of transformation, but often results in doing little to solve the long-standing structural problems — a season that is too long, too confusing to follow, too taxing for players and doesn’t allow for more than the top 80 or so players to meet their expenses. 

Andrea Gaudenzi, the chairman of the ATP, the men’s tour, shared details of the proposed investments from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), many of which have been discussed or even agreed to previously, at a contentious meeting among the sport’s leaders on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian wells California.

Together, the investments could immediately increase the total revenues and investment in tennis — which are between $2.5billion and $3billion — by roughly a third.

Anonymous sources close to the proposal said the bulk of the money will go toward purchasing a license for a new top-level mixed event in Saudi Arabia. There is also money for additional sponsorships. 

PIF has already committed as much as $100million to sponsorships of the men’s rankings and multiple tournaments, money that was included in the proposal that Gaudenzi presented last weekend. The proposal also accounted for Saudi Arabia’s pending deal to host the WTA Tour Finals, which is yet to be announced but is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. 

A portion of the money may also go toward funding a revived tour for senior players, increasing prize money for current players, and providing support for the smaller tournaments that provide opportunities for developing players to compete and for more established players to earn appearance fees.

The Grand Slam organizers, especially Tennis Australia, are desperate to maintain control of the tennis calendar, which, for much of the year, is built around regional swings that climax with their events. However, Gaudenzi and Simon have held talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia about holding a new, top-level mixed event in the country in January.

That could jeopardize the viability of the tour events in Australia and New Zealand that lead up to the Australian Open. Tennis Australia controls those events.