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‘Merge tennis’ governing bodies,’ says Roger Federer

Roger Federer says “now is the time” for the men’s and women’s governing bodies to merge while tennis is in limbo because of the coronavirus.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion floated the idea in a series of Twitter posts.

He said a merger of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) “probably should have happened”.

“We can come out of this with two weakened bodies or one stronger body,” Federer said.

Later on Wednesday ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi appeared to back the idea saying: “Our sport has a big opportunity if we can come together in the spirit of collaboration and unity.

“Recent cooperation between governing bodies has only strengthened my belief that a unified sport is the surest way to maximise our potential and to deliver an optimal experience for fans on site, on television and online. To that end, I welcome the views of our players.”

WTA chairman and chief executive Steve Simon said the organisation had been “regular contact with the ATP” during the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “I have long stated that we are at our best as a sport when we can work together, and the recent weeks have highlighted that fact.

“We look forward to continuing discussions on how we can effectively work together to deliver the greatest value to our fans and to our many stakeholders.”

BBC Sport understands preliminary discussions have taken place between the two tours about greater collaboration in certain areas.

While many high-profile tennis players have backed Federer’s plan, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios tweeted on Thursday to say: “We shouldn’t merge.”

On Wednesday, the world number 40 had posted: “Did anyone ask the majority of the ATP what they think about merging with the WTA and how it is good for us?”

In a series of social media posts on Wednesday, Federer added: “I am not talking about merging competition on the court but merging the two governing bodies that oversee the men’s and women’s professional tours.

“It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories.”

“The WTA on its own was always Plan B,” added King. “I’m glad we are on the same page. Let’s make it happen.”

Spanish 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal added: “It would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men’s and women’s tennis in only one organisation.”

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Argentine Diego Schwartzman and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza are among the other high-profile tennis players to voice their agreement on social media.

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