Novak Djokovic wants leading tennis players to contribute to a fund to help lower-ranked players during the coronavirus crisis.
Professional tennis has been suspended since March due to the outbreak of COVID-19, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War Two and the French Open postponed until at least September.
The sport’s governing bodies are currently in talks to devise plans to provide assistance to lower-ranked players and Djokovic has already been in contact with fellow ATP Player Council members Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to discuss the situation.
‘I spoke to Roger and Rafa a few days ago and we had a conversation about the near future of tennis,’ Djokovic said during an Instagram Live with Stanislas Wawrinka.
‘A majority of players ranked between 250 to 700 or 1,000 don’t have federation support or sponsors and are independent and left alone.
‘Players hopefully will [also] contribute collectively to the relief fund that the ATP [and others] will distribute using models and criteria.
‘You want to avoid giving money to a player who fits into this category (low ranking) but does not need the money compared to someone else…hopefully between $3-4.5m (£2.4m to £3.6m) will be distributed to lower-ranked players.
‘If we don’t have any events [in 2020], maybe next year’s Australian Open prize money can be contributed to the fund.
‘I’m glad the tennis eco-system is coming together. Everyone realises the base of tennis. These guys ranked 250 onwards are the ones making the future of tennis.
‘We have to show them they’re not forgotten. We also have to send a message to young players that they can live out of tennis when there’s a financial crisis.’
Djokovic also sent a letter to his fellow professionals in which he wrote: ‘Rafa, Roger and I spoke yesterday and this is what we propose.
‘We think it’s more important to support players from No. 250-700. First 250 players (most of them at least ) have played qualifications for Grand Slams in 2019 and this year in Australian Open.
‘This participation in qualifications of Slams would guarantee them decent amount of money. Outside of 250 is where the real financial struggle is, which is expected.’
The 17-time Grand Slam champion added: ‘Guys, I know that everyone is struggling financially in these circumstances. Of course some more, someone less.
‘I feel like this is the way for us to show great unity, understanding and compassion for our fellow players who are trying to make a living or at least not lose money in tennis.
‘Please try to recognize this as an example for the future generations. God bless you all.’
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