Tennis-ATP signs multi-year strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia's PIF


  • Tennis
  • Wednesday, 28 Feb 2024

Tennis - ATP Tour Finals - Turin, Italy - November 14, 2021 General view inside the stadium during the match REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo

BENGALURU (Reuters) - The ATP Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) have signed a multi-year strategic partnership, the governing body of men's tennis said on Wednesday in a move highlighting the growing influence of the Gulf nation on global sport.

The PIF will now become the official naming partner of the men's rankings as well as partner ATP tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing, the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin and the Next Gen ATP Finals staged in Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in various sports like soccer, Formula One, boxing and golf in the last few years while critics accuse the oil-rich kingdom of using PIF to "sportswash" its human rights record.

The country denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security through its laws.

The ATP said PIF had committed to developing and unlocking opportunities for young players and would also contribute to its OneVision Strategic Plan that focuses on unity, enhancing fan experiences and leveraging growth opportunities.

"Our strategic partnership with PIF marks a major moment for tennis," ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli said in a statement.

"It's a shared commitment to propel the future of the sport. With PIF's dedication to the next generation - fostering innovation and creating opportunities for all - the stage is set for a transformative new period of progress."

In August, the ATP announced that its Next Gen Finals for men's under-21 players would take place in Jeddah until 2027 with the prize money increased to a record $2 million.

"Through our collaboration with ATP, PIF will be a catalyst for growth of the global tennis landscape, developing talent, fostering inclusivity and driving sustainable innovation," said Mohamed AlSayyad, Head of Corporate Brand at PIF.

"This strategic partnership aligns with our broader vision to enhance quality of life and drive transformation in sport both within Saudi and across the world."

Saudi Arabia will also host a new elite tennis exhibition tournament featuring Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and three other Grand Slam champions in October.

Nadal was also named an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation last month.

The debate over Saudi Arabia potentially hosting the women's WTA Finals has also intensified, with tennis greats Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova objecting to any such move, prompting heavy criticism from the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

The WTA said that it was still working through a process to select a venue for the Finals.

"As part of our plans to grow the value of women's tennis, we regularly speak to both existing and potential commercial partners about possible new forms of collaboration," it added regarding any potential sponsorship.

"While we don't rule anything out for the future, there is no new update at this time."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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