Professional tennis is one of the many sports that is currently shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and everyone is looking for a way to get back to playing. Patrick Mouratoglou announced on Saturday that he is starting a new independent tennis league that will begin with matches played in May. Mouratoglou is the tennis coach of Serena Williams, and he also runs a tennis academy in Nice, France.
Mouratoglou also announced that he currently has professional tennis players lined up to join his league, which will take place at his academy in France. All of the matches will be played without spectators, but up to 10 matches will be live-streamed each weekend. The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is the name of this new venture, and it is scheduled to run through parts of May and June.
The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is set to begin on May 16, and the first match is already lined up. David Goffin of Belgium, who is the 10th-ranked player in the world, will take on 103rd-ranked Alexei Popyrin of Australia. Popyrin’s father is a co-founder of the league, and he will be featured to kick off the new league.
A complete list of tennis players scheduled to compete in this new league was not a part of the announcement, but Mouratoglou is hoping to bring in some big names. It’s unclear whether or not Williams, or any female players for that matter, will be a part of the league.
A major hurdle for most players will be the inability to travel to France from their home countries. France has some major restrictions when it comes to international travel, and most tennis players will unlikely be able to get into the country.
For tennis fans, the Ultimate Tennis Showdown will provide them with some entertainment as they wait for the professional tours to resume. Both the ATP and the WTA are currently shut down until at least mid-July in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The entire grass season has been canceled due to the pandemic, and the famous Wimbledon Championships has also been canceled this year.
Next In Line
The US Open is the next Grand Slam event supposed to take place, and that event is scheduled for Aug. 31 in New York City. Both professional organizations are hoping to play that tournament as scheduled, but the state of New York will play a huge role in that decision. The French Open has been postponed from May until September, but that event is expected to take place.
While this new tennis league will provide some entertainment to the fans, it is still yet to be determined whether or not sportsbooks will be able to offer any bets on the action. Sportsbooks in the United States have to follow state guidelines when it comes to offering bets, and most states restrict the number of leagues that can be bet on. State lawmakers would have to get The Ultimate Showdown approved before it is offered by sportsbooks in the country.
Meanwhile, three of the biggest tennis stars in the world are working together to provide financial relief for lower-ranked tennis players. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal are working with the ATP to set up a fund that will pay players during the coronavirus pandemic.
The trio of tennis stars is hoping to raise between $3 and $4.5 million to divide amongst players ranked from 200th to 700th in the world. The hope is that the four Grand Slam Tournaments will be involved as well, and there will be a system to determine players that have the most need.