In the past year, tennis has taken a hard hit, but it has rarely been so busy. Already founder of an academy in his name, in Sophia Antipolis, in the Alpes-Maritimes, Patrick Mouratoglou launched in 2020 a tennis center in Dubai then another in Greece, the country of his father. The coach of the American Serena Williams also took advantage of the vacuum on the circuit generated by the Covid-19 pandemic to install the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS), a competition format that intends to break the codes of traditional tennis: matches competing not in sets but in four quarters, authorized coaching, single serve, etc. He delivers his perspective on tennis today, as the Roland-Garros tournament begins.
How is tennis doing when the pandemic is not over?
The pandemic has damaged the tennis economy, especially that of tournaments, as many could not keep up. That said, it’s surprising because there are plenty of them that are also being set up without my understanding how: TV rights are the lowest in history, sponsorship is not the priority for companies, it is not. there is little or no ticket office. And for the players, it’s hard: beyond the top 100, it’s the fourth dimension, but even for a lot of top 100 players, it’s complicated. I know some who won an ATP 250 but lost money in the tournament… The question is: in what state will the circuit recover?
Even before the Covid-19 crisis, tennis was already in decline …
Tennis is going very, very badly except that the general public does not see it because, apparently, it is doing very well. We have the three greatest champions in history playing at the same time, there are many more prize money than before… But the results of studies commissioned by television channels are systematically the same: the average age of a tennis fan is 61; ten years ago, it was 51 years old. At this rate, in thirty years, there will be no more fans since tennis does not renew its base and does not appeal to young people at all. However, for ten years, the way of consuming has been disrupted by the arrival of social networks, streaming platforms, etc.
What is this non-questioning due to?
There are two reasons. The first is that tennis is extremely conservative and steeped in tradition, which is both a strength and a weakness. There is a lot of history, the Grand Slams are the perfect expression of it, but at the slightest change, the very powerful Conservatives cry foul. The second reason is that it’s too political, there are too many governing bodies.
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