Women's Sport: Billie Jean King believes now is the time for a "new normal" in tennis


Tennis legend Billie Jean King says tennis’ governing bodies have not done enough to protect players whilst the tennis season is suspended.

The world of tennis came to a standstill in March with an announcement made that ATP and WTA tournaments would be suspended until at least mid-July.

King says the shutdown of the tours has shown the inequalities that exist within the sport, with those further down the rankings left especially vulnerable to financial difficulty.

Lower ranked players rely upon the earnings they make whilst playing in the world tour to get by throughout the year and without the usual tournaments, they have been left in a dire financial situation. Sofia Shapatava, Georgian world number 371, started an online petition in March for financial support from tennis’ world governing body the ITF.

But King, who won 39 Grand Slams during her career, remains optimistic that in these times of crisis, tennis could take the opportunity to reset its structure to benefit all.

"This is a good time to reset and to have one voice in the sport, which we really never had. We need that desperately," King told The Tennis Channel.

"I hope they will all work together more after the COVID-19 situation calms down. Maybe someday, and I didn't think it is possible, we might have a commissioner. I don't know.

"We are not the biggest sport in the world, we don't have as much money as say soccer. So we need to stick together and everyone needs to help each other.

"The thing that's also good is it shows the inequities that go on. So this is a good time to reset and think about how we want our sport to look in the future. What can we do to make it better, stronger and more secure?

"This is a really good chance to have a new normal for tennis."

The WTA, ATP and ITF have banded together to assess how they might be able to offer help to players on the tour and develop an emergency relief fund, but they have not yet established how this would work.

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