Women's Sports: Sofia Shapatava starts petition for financial support from ITF during pandemic

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Over 650 people have signed a change.org petition started by world number 371 Sofia Shapatava from Georgia.

Shapatava started the petition which is calling for financial support from groups like the International Tennis Federation, the WTA and the ATP whilst the women's and men's tours have been suspended.

This month saw the WTA and ATP suspend their tours until at least the beginning of June as the coronavirus continues to spread across the world. The nature of the tour set up and costs involved with travelling to events in different cities across the world can mean that players are often living hand to mouth.

The petition started by 31-year-old Shapatava is asking for organising bodies to "help [players] through these hard times for our sport". She told the PA News Agency that the petition is a "way to be heard" by the ITF.

Major tournaments including the French Open at Roland Garros have already made plans to postpone events in light of lockdown restrictions imposed by governments across the world.

Historically the clay-court tournament is played in the month of May, but this year it has been moved to September. Wimbledon is the next Grand Slam tournament expected to announce it will be postponing the competition to later in the year.

Shapatava told the PA News Agency that lockdown restrictions were making it extremely difficult for players lower down the rankings to make ends meet and this was why she decided to take action.

"Lower-ranked tennis players have no savings and it is a very hard topic.

"Usually everyone makes money on the side by coaching or club matches or prize-money tournaments but, in this situation, countries are on lockdown so there is no way to get additional income. We have no security, nor does anyone take care of us.

"I am worried indeed. I am sure I can put food on the table. But nobody stopped bills and we still have to pay for everything every month."

The Lawn Tennis Association released a statement saying their focus would be "to ensure tennis coaches, venues, volunteers, officials and players are supported in any way they can be".

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