Andy Murray backs move to merge ATP and WTA Tours
Andy Murray has joined calls to merge the men's and women's tours, arguing that many of the game's top players think it would be a positive move for tennis.
Talk of one unified tour, while not a new phenomenon, has resurfaced with Roger Federer also posing the question on Twitter in April and ex-British No 1 Greg Rusedski has thrown his weight behind such a move.
Now three-times Grand Slam champion Murray has waded into the debate and thinks it is a conversation worth having.
"When you have a lot of the top male players now starting to discuss and talk about it, that's definitely very promising," Murray, who has often voiced his support for gender equality, told CNN.
"When these discussions happen it's quite important not just to see this merger through a man's eyes and to bring more women into the decision-making positions so that everyone's voice gets heard," added the twice Wimbledon champion, who used to be coached by Amelie Mauresmo.
While professional tennis is suspended entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic, contentiously the men's ATP Tour offers more prize money in a year than its WTA counterpart does.
But the proposals in themselves are not without controversy, dividing opinion among some of the game's biggest stars.
Rafael Nadal, for example, is also among many who are backing the proposal while Australian Nick Kyrgios wasted little time in rejecting the idea.
Billie Jean King has advocated for men's and women's tennis to unite since the 1970s
Billie Jean King, meanwhile, has campaigned for a joint tour ever since she founded the Women's Tennis Association in 1973, but now officials within the men's side of the sport appear to be willing to explore the possibility of a merger.
"I did have a chance to talk with Roger and he said the reason he even thought about this is because he finally had some space and time to reflect and think about the sport," King said. "We have to stay together as a sport."
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Murray admitted that some resistance was to be expected, recounting conversations he had with fellow ATP players who were upset when the bigger tournaments started offering equal prize money.
"I spoke to some of the male players... who were unhappy because the prize money was equal and I said 'well would you rather there was no increase at all?' And they said to me 'Yeah, actually,'" Murray said.